Big Conversation to consider how built environment and construction will deliver just transition to net zero

Big Conversation to consider how built environment and construction will deliver just transition to net zero

A series of events have been planned to bring together diverse voices to discuss how Scotland’s built environment and construction sector will respond to the climate and biodiversity crisis.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the Big Conversation is being coordinated by the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) with Built Environment-Smarter Transformation (BE-ST), Historic Environment Scotland, Zero Waste Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust.

These by-invite series of five events will plan for Scotland’s leaders of tomorrow and create uniquely future-focused conversations across sectors to tackle the climate emergency in Scotland. Allowing for architects, planners, builders, trainers, researchers, unions, communities, financers, charities, suppliers, to come together with representatives of public health, Nature and the experience of Decarbonising Construction by the Danish Government, to plan for delivering the climate targets of 2045.

The themes of the five Conversations cover the technical, financial, cultural and ethical considerations in: Becoming the Future, Our New Material Culture, Our Future Workforce, Money and Delivering the Future.

The Scottish Government will launch the draft Just Transition Plan for the Built Environment and Construction in 2024. Its Heat in Buildings Bill consultation ends on 8th March. A public consultation on a draft Scottish National Adaptation Plan 2024-29 will be published early in 2024. The Construction Leadership Forum’s Transformation Action Plan is also due to be published in 2024. Together, these herald an acceleration in the pace of change towards net zero in 2045 that will affect every person, building and business in Scotland, our health, culture, economy, our built and natural environments.

Participants of The Big Conversation will present their discussions to Patrick Harvie MSP, minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights on 25th March 2024.

SEDA director Tom Morton said: “We’ve seen how support for action on climate change is accelerating, with 74% of adults in the latest Scottish household survey saying climate change is an immediate and urgent problem. That’s a call to action and while there has been a lot of work going on in the background, the Built Environment faces a huge and complex challenge to deliver the scale of change that’s needed.

“In the next 21 years, we need to upgrade almost all the 2.9 million buildings in Scotland, re-skill and diversify a 332,250 workforce and invest maybe £100 billion into our diverse communities and businesses. But it’s not enough just to cut carbon. If we get it right, we will also eradicate fuel poverty, foster social justice and manage our internally displaced climate refugees. The Climate and Biodiversity emergencies are bringing a change in the culture of how humans make our home in Scotland and we’ll hear diverse views from our Construction sector about how we can manage that change efficiently and effectively.”

Stephen Good, CEO of BE-ST, said: “The positive impact of The Big Conversation lies in the opportunity it will create for stakeholders to share perspectives, coordinate strategies, and influence policies towards achieving Scotland’s net zero targets by 2045. BE-ST is proud to support this initiative as it is bringing together diverse voices to have a national conversation. We recognise how important it is that we continue to facilitate discussions not only with current industry leaders but also with the upcoming working generation, ensuring that those who will play the key roles in delivering the just transition to net zero for the built environment are actively involved from the beginning.”

The Big Conversation will take place at The Engine Shed in Stirling, Historic Environment Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre from Feb to March 2024 with five themed conversations:

  • Tuesday 13 February 2024: Becoming the Future
  • Friday 16 February 2024: Our New Material Culture
  • Wednesday 21 February 2024: Our Future Workforce
  • Monday 11 March 2024: Money
  • Monday 25 March 2024: Delivering the Future.

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