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Scotland's Public Sector Set to Up the Pace

13 November 2019

Public Bodies are ready - but need critical support and new levers to deliver

At our 1 October event – Net Zero Ready – we welcomed over 80 participants and featured a diverse panel discussion led by SSN Vice Chair John Wincott. For the afternoon session, delegates rolled up their sleeves and shared their experiences of what is working and what is needed in order to get to zero.

The aim of the day was to identify transformational practice on a range of key themes for the public sector in delivering new Net Zero targets and to share what public bodies need to achieve them.

Opening plenary

Clare Hamilton, Deputy Director, Head of Climate Change Division, Scottish Government opened the day with an overview of the Big Climate Conversation which is being conducted nationally and how National Government is aligning key levers to deliver the new targets.

Moving to the five-person panel – John Wincott gave members a chance to discuss their deep work on climate change both from within their own organisations and of working with others.

Sharing experience

Daisy Narayanan shared her recent work with Edinburgh City Council as it prepares a strategy to meet its declared 2030 target. While George Gillespie talked about Glasgow’s own approach to the same target. Scotland’s largest cities are clearly ambitious and ready to walk the talk but also recognise that achieving their targets is a shared endeavour.

We heard from the Director of Scotland’s new National Investment Bank – David Wilson – and the bold approach to sustainable and patient finance and investment that the Scottish Government is committed to.

Sharon Pfleger joined the conversation bringing a wealth of public health experience to the conversation. A sustainable healthcare system is all about collaborative partnerships and Sharon’s work with the Green Breakthrough Partnership is just that. A deep collaboration between the NHS Highland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Healthcare without Harm, Scottish Water, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, University of the Highlands and Islands, The Hutton Institute, and the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Our fifth panellist, Sam Gardener, with his long experience at WWF and in his new role as the first-ever head of sustainability and climate for Scottish Power, discussed the need for public/private collaboration, a faster pace and a systemic approach.

The lively conversation between panellists and chair John Wincott closed with questions from the audience. At the networking break attendees had a chance to carry on the discussion with each other and the panellists.

Horizons approach

The afternoon session was an interactive workshop where delegates used the three-horizons framework to understand where the public sector needs to be in order to reach net zero by at least 2045, and what is needed in order to get there.

Feedback from the afternoon session is the focus of our recently published report which is available online. Delegates spent time working through the following three themes:

  1. the characteristics of what public bodies do now and what is, or is not, working well in relation to net zero or climate change mitigation
  2. what public bodies will look like when they have delivered net zero by 2045
  3. the factors and disruptions that may help them to get to this end point.

Ultimately this enabled the delegates to provide answers to the following questions:

Feedback report published

Our report provides a summary of this feedback and is structured around the questions above. It is important to note that, although the event was framed around reaching net zero, participants at the workshop expressed their vision of the future as being much more than purely about net zero carbon emissions. Biodiversity, sustainability (social, environmental, economic), climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation were all discussed throughout the day alongside ‘net zero’.

Public Bodies consultation – closes 4 December

The report was shared with Scottish Government’s Climate Change Directorate and will form part of the larger public bodies climate change consultation which closes on 4 December.

SSN members and partners are encouraged to respond to the consultation.

The SSN Steering Group have shared a draft response and you can access this via the Knowledge Hub or get in touch with us by emailing:

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