As COP26 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on what has been described as one of the most important gatherings of the century to date – a summit which brought international leaders, and the eyes of the world, to our city.
Throughout it all, Strathclyders have been a constant presence. We have observed developments in the Blue Zone, participated and presented in key sessions and events, demonstrated our world-class research and innovation, provided expert commentary, informed debates and discussions, and made our voices heard.
While the summit is coming to an end, the work must continue. There is an urgent need to accelerate words into action, get beyond the rhetoric and deliver a just transition to a more sustainable, resilient economy. It will require an enormous collective effort at pace to achieve the changes required, from decarbonising energy and achieving energy efficiency, to changing the face of transport.
However, it is clear there must be room for optimism. Universities like Strathclyde are well-positioned to support sustainable technology and policy solutions, and by using the full spectrum of expertise across our institution, we are already making a positive difference.
When Former US President Barack Obama visited our campus on Monday of this week, his message to the waiting crowds was simple. As he paused on the steps of the Learning and Teaching Building, he shouted: “Get active!”
It was a rallying call that many of us can relate to, and one that encapsulates the ‘can-do’ attitude of our Strathclyde community. There is still much to be done, and I would urge you to get involved, and read more about our activities, on our COP26 web pages.
It will take individual and collective effort from across the University community to meet our own ambitious targets on our journey to net zero by 2040, and I am delighted with the level of engagement from colleagues to date. It is fitting that the artist behind the city’s three Hope sculptures chose Strathclyde as the home for the Hope Triptych – a powerful symbol of how we can work together to deliver a sustainable future.
Today, many of us will also have been reflecting on Remembrance Day. This morning, I joined members of the Executive Team, students and members of Strath Union for our annual Remembrance Day event in the Royal College building as we laid wreaths and remembered the armed forces, the vital role played by the emergency services, and those who lost their lives as a result of conflict.
In other news, 50 of our emerging University leaders from the faculties and professional services undertook our annual New Leaders Seminar this week. As part of our ongoing investment in talent and efforts to increase the diversity of our leadership group at Strathclyde, we will also shortly be seeking self-nominations from those of you who aspire to be a future Head of Department, Vice-Dean or Director of Service at Strathclyde, to participate in the Strathclyde Leadership Talent Development Programme. This will give colleagues the opportunity to develop skills to empower teams and forge clear pathways towards the University’s vision and mission. You can read more about this programme in next week’s Inside Strathclyde.
On Tuesday this week, the Scottish Government issued a reminder for everyone in Scotland to adhere to the COVID-19 guidance. In a statement to Parliament, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that the situation is ‘precarious and unpredictable’, and warned that if the previous pattern, characterised by waves of infection, is repeated, there is a risk that the spread of the virus could increase again during the coming weeks or over the Christmas period.
With colder winter weather coming and increased time spent indoors, as well as the greater number of people moving around the city for COP26, it is important that we are especially vigilant to keep our University community, our friends and family safe and well. As a reminder, you can pick up lateral flow tests for regular testing free of charge from our testing collection centre on campus and you can find the latest Scottish Government guidance online.
It is especially important that we adhere to the guidance as we begin our Autumn graduations – the first to take place in person since the pandemic began – on Monday. Colleagues have been working hard to create events that are both safe and enjoyable for our graduates, their families and supporters.
I know you will join me in congratulating the Class of 2021 on their graduation; an achievement that is all the more remarkable given the challenging circumstances we have all been living in. I will be sending them my warmest wishes on behalf of the University community, and my thanks to all of you who have helped and supported them along the way.
Finally, I would like to place on record my thanks to the many colleagues who were involved in delivering President Obama’s visit on Monday. In particular, I would like to thank Ray McHugh, Fiona Lynn and the Marketing & Development team, Colin Montgomery and our Security staff, Campbell Jamieson and the IS Infrastructure team, as well as Manish Joshi and Benn Rapson in Strath Union. Their professionalism in a complex and high-pressure situation was noted and appreciated by many of the outside agencies involved in the visit. They were a credit to the University.
Have a great weekend when it comes.