Blog Twenty-Two: National Economic Forum 2017

May 19th, 2017 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

Last Friday, as our new cohort of Young Leaders prepared to travel to Glasgow for the first climate change module of this year’s Young Leaders Development Programme, I stayed up in the Highlands for the National Economic Forum and travelled up to a sunny Inverness.

The event kicked off with an opening address from Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and a business keynote address from Mark Gregory, chief economist at Ernst & Young, followed by a Q&A session with the both of them. As most likely the youngest person in attendance, it was great to represent all of the Young Leaders in the 2050 Climate Group, and to be able to ask the First Minister a question regarding some of the issues that are important to the group as a whole:

“How will the government ensure that the Circular Economy package will deliver skilled employment opportunities throughout the whole of Scotland?

How will the Curriculum for Excellence prepare the next generation for employment within the Circular Economy?”

Declan asking his questions (Photo from @Aurora_Cons)

The First Minister feels there is a massive opportunity for skilled jobs in the Circular Economy across the whole of Scotland, particularly in rural areas, and Mark Gregory pointed out that already, directly and indirectly, there are 50,000 jobs in Scotland engaged in lowering carbon emissions.

The point about the Curriculum for Excellence was one that the First Minister thought was the most important. With a school system able to produce confident and informed individuals, well prepared for careers in the Circular Economy in the future.

After lunch, I participated in a workshop about the future of energy in Scotland, led by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, and Nick Molho, Executive Director at Aldersgate Group. With so many people in the room from the energy industry it was great to hear their thoughts on the draft Scottish Energy Strategy, and the ambitious plans for renewables and low carbon energy sources to play their part in Scotland reaching its emissions reduction targets as set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, which requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the Scottish economy between 1990 and 2050.

My biggest takeaway from the whole event, and the one aspect that fills me with the most positivity, is this: they didn’t postpone it! Let me explain. The date for this 18th edition of the National Economic Forum was set a while back, and this time of year was expected to be a quiet one for Scotland politically. In hindsight, they couldn’t have been more wrong! Despite the event taking place during the run up to a general election, they didn’t postpone it. Instead, the First Minister and 5 MSPs were in attendance, including Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, who kindly spoke at the launch event of this year’s Young Leaders Development Programme. The government saw these economic discussions as vital, and that it was key for the drive towards a low carbon economy to be at the centre of these discussions. This clear demonstration of commitment towards the sustainable development goals, in the midst of a hectic political period, I believe, can give us hope that our ambitions for 2050 will be met.
Blog contributed by: Declan Gallacher. 2050 Climate Group, Operational Team Member: YLDP & Alumni Subgroups
Header photo submitted by Declan, @DeclanGallager
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