Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy

landscape-nature-mountains-road-39391In Winter 2018, SLF members met with Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, and Chris Stark, Director of Energy and Climate Change for the Scottish Government, to discuss how the Scottish Leaders Forum can be part of leading Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy.

The key theme of the discussion was collaboration. SLF members highlighted that overcoming barriers to implementing low carbon initiatives will require collaboration not only within organisations, but also between organisations. Business plans and organisational priorities need to be aligned to develop shared low carbon objectives that provide the best outcome for all of those involved.

The discussion touched on how different types of communication can help engage people within organisations and the public. Reframing challenges posed by climate change around opportunities to improve people’s lives can help engage people, both within organisations and externally. Attendees noted that an inspiring vision, simple messages and appropriate language can help to engage staff.

SLF members also discussed a range of existing good practice in this area, and a conversation was had around how best to share this information within the network so members can learn from each other. The Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) offers a platform to share good practice happening within the public sector. If anyone would like to contribute examples for the SSN newsletter, you can do so by emailing

The Scottish Government is keen to continue the discussion around climate change with the SLF. If anyone has any priorities for future engagement on climate change then please contact, or contact the Climate Change Team directly at

Brexit Briefing

SIE-flagsAutumn 2017

In the second of our Brexit Briefings the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell MSP provided an update on progress in the discussions with the UK Government, and conversations with the European Commission. He also provided an update on the EU withdrawal bill, in particular its impacts in areas of labour force and workforce,  finances and regulation.

Dame Mariot Leslie, a member of the Standing Council on Europe, informed members that the direction of travel in the negotiations is not yet clear and encouraged organisations in Scotland tease out where their interests lie in Brexit and make clear with specifics.  She suggested organisations might find it useful to do an audit of all areas that are impacted by EU co-operation, regulation, bodies, standards, best practice, committees, networks etc.

There was a wide ranging discussion picking up on the points made by the speakers. Key themes were:

Young People; although much of the messaging around Brexit is negative there was a recognition of the need to present a positive long term future that we are working towards despite Brexit.  Potential to look at messaging and events during the Year of Young People 2018.

Democracy & Identity;  recognition of a strong Scottish identity in Europe, potential that SLF could support an activity looking at our cultural identity in Europe that outlasts Brexit.

Workforce & Migration;  discussion of the need for CEOs and senior staff to support staff and make them feel needed and wanted.  Anxiety in Universities is around people, staff and students, 43% of students are from outside Scotland/UK. Movement of staff matters.  Some organisations have held EU national sessions internally, would urge others to do this too.  SG can share lessons learned on establishing network to support and create safe spaces.

Influence & Networks; SLF members have influence and seats on networks and committees across Europe.

Funding; Call for early decisions to universities about funding for EU students which accounts for around £95 mil a year.

Regulation; The EU withdrawal bill puts powers of organisations at risk and impacts what some can deliver. We know UK Government expects regulatory dividends eg environment, food and trade. Public want to keep the protections they currently have and don’t expect that to diminish. Encourage regulators to work together, looking for overview of some of the work that has been done and to get understanding of regulator impacts.

Leading amidst complexity and uncertainty

Autumn 2017 – Note of event 

The event was facilitated by Sally Loudon, Chief Executive, COSLA, and David Wilson, Executive Director, International Public Policy Institute, University of Strathclyde. David and Sally began by outlining the complexity and uncertainty they were seeing in their organisations and sectors.

The Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell MSP, provided an update on the current state of negotiations with the UK government and the latest from his discussions with the EU institutions and domestic stakeholders.  He encouraged SLF members to engage with counterparts in the Scottish Government to share information on impacts of Brexit in their organisations and communities.  We also heard from a researcher at University of Edinburgh, about the personal impact Brexit uncertainty was having on EU nationals living and working in Scotland.

During the plenary discussion members agreed to work together on the following themes:

Collective Challenges

Areas where SLF members can work together to develop joint approaches to understanding and responding to shared issues.

Individual Challenges

Recognition that there is a need to support leaders through the complexity and uncertainty, through traditional support routes, peer support or other methods.  Also some discussion about how leaders can support individuals in their organisations who are impacted by Brexit. There was recognition that much of this work is already underway through Workforce Scotland, and a suggestion that WFS would be a good mechanism through which to take forward work under this theme.

Beyond the usual

Recognition that although there are a wide range of people and organisations involved in SLF, there are also areas which are not well represented.  There was also discussion on the support for next generation leaders and how they engage with SLF.

Brexit Briefing

On Wednesday 1 March, SLF members met with the Scottish Government’s Minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe – Mike Russell, MSP. The event was well attended and the wide range of interests represented made for a varied and useful discussion.

The key themes arising from the discussion were:

• Scottish values are central to the discussion on Scotland’s Place in Europe – what kind of Scotland do we want to be, and how can we best articulate these values.
• SLF members have access to a diverse range of networks, and a huge amount of soft power, how can this best be harnessed to support positive outcomes for Scotland.
• People are central; how do leaders support staff who are, or have family, from the EU; and how can we support communities to engage with the discussions.


There was also discussion about how we can collect and share data and evidence to support analysis of the implications of Brexit – if you have information you feel would be helpful to share, either data or case studies of impacts, please get in touch via

Following the triggering of Article 50 a further session with Mr Russell has been scheduled for September 2017. Information on this event will be issued to members nearer the time.

Forth Road Bridge

Transforming Leadership in a Digital World

Thank you to those who attended the last event on 5 October. It was a lively and informative session. For those who were unable to make it, the session focused on digital transformation, and explored the potential of digital disruption and the role of leaders in driving forward our digital ambitions. To kick the session off we were joined by Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, who provided an update on activity following the EU referendum result. There were two key messages from this session. One was the importance of working together and supporting each other through this difficult time. The other was to speak up about our hopes and fears, and to share any information with him that could help inform the negotiation process going forward.

[Read more…]

To introduce the main theme of the day, we had an open discussion and then broke into snap chat sessions which explored a number of themes aimed to stimulate our thinking in relation to digital.

Adam Stewart, ‎Regional Manager – UK Public Sector, Google provided a thought provoking presentation around the art of the possible of digital. His presentation can be found at ( ). We then had a discussion with Derek MacKay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution, around the opportunities of digital across Scotland’s public services.

Many of you will have been aware of the debate in parliament on 3 November “Realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world”. This confirmed Ministers intention to publish a refreshed digital strategy in early 2017 which is anticipated will set out a range of ambitions and actions to ensure that Scotland realises its full potential in a digital world. To assist that process, an interactive discussion has been running via between 3 November and 15 December, on the 6 themes which we think should be included the strategy:

• Connectivity
• Economy
• Skills
• Public services
• Participation
• Cyber security and resilience.

Alongside the interactive dialogue, we have engaged with many of you directly either individually or through the various boards, meetings and events that you are a part of to:

• Ensure that we have identified the right objectives to make the most of the opportunities that digital can offer;
• Identify whether there are other things we should consider in developing the strategy; and
• Take stock with you on what you think the priorities might be.