THE global low-carbon market is expected to hit £4 trillion by 2016, which we believe represents a major economic opportunity for UK cities.
Scotland has a choice about how its cities will develop and the part that Glasgow will play in a low-carbon future will come under the microscope like never before at a landmark conference there next week.
Delivering a sustainable city that makes the most of new technologies to shape the way we live tomorrow will be a central theme of the event, which will hear from ministers and business leaders alike.
Base Glasgow – now established as one of Scotland’s most important gatherings for growing the low-carbon economy – will debate the city’s future-proofing ambitions and how these translate into economic opportunities, including how the city meets its 2020 climate change targets.
The focus will be on energy usage in the built environment and integrating, or “smartening”, infrastructure – with housing, buildings, transport, waste and water all core areas of focus.
More than half the world’s population now lives in cities, and this is a trend that is only heading upwards. We created Base Cities events in 2009 to highlight the issues that accompanied this trend, how public sector policy was responding to it and the private sector opportunities that lay in the large-scale refurbishment needed to make cities more resilient.
We now hold events in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and – for the first time this year – Nantes, France. Nantes was elected Green Capital of Europe this year, so it is a trailblazer in sustainable development. We continue to talk to more cities and regions in the UK, Europe and further afield, including Melbourne, Australia, which has taken a very progressive approach to low-carbon development and is enthusiastic about highlighting this through a Base Cities event.
So what does all this mean for Glasgow? Well, one key theme of this year’s conference will be how it can use smart technologies to transform itself into a city of the future.
Base Glasgow will also examine how the city can learn from exemplars such as Gothenburg, Riga and Ghent to bring down carbon emissions and tackle social and economic issues.
Base Glasgow gives us a vibrant platform to debate the challenges that will shape the way we all live tomorrow.
Last year’s event was addressed by former mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who used his experience of running the UK capital to set out his world-class vision for Glasgow.
This year’s speakers include Glasgow Council City leader Gordon Matheson, who will open the conference on the challenges facing the city to deliver a new economic paradigm, while preserving what is best in the Dear Green Place.
The University of Strathclyde’s new Institute for Future Cities will lead academic research on urban themes, and partnerships with cities, business and government across the world. Following Glasgow’s impressive coup of winning Future City Demonstrator funding, speaker Peter Madden will outline what the cash means for the city and how the integration of smart technologies can address Glasgow’s sustainability challenges.
Madden is chief executive of Future Cities Catapult– Technology Strategy Board. He is working closely with Glasgow City Council, which recently won £24 million of government funding for a future cities demonstrator.
The demonstrator will work alongside the London-based Catapult to make sure there are opportunities for innovative UK businesses to develop integrated urban solutions that can be sold to cities across the world.
Another priority area for us is commercial and residential property retrofit. It’s not just about building for the future, but also using modern technology to improve what we have built already. Scotland’s Climate 2020 Group will be holding a fringe event about Retrofit Scotland. This is an online virtual organisation to provide information on refurbishment projects, best practice, modelling, assessment tools, and finance mechanisms.
Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry are also holding fringe events and more information on these and the rest of the event can be found at www.basecities.com/glasgow.
Base Glasgow is more than a talking shop. We want delegates to take part in the workshops being run on the day, including sessions on housing, public and commercial buildings, transport, waste and energy operators and infrastructure owners. It’s about converting ambitions into tangible opportunities.
In summary, we believe that Base Glasgow 2013 offers businesses direct access to the key players when it comes to commercial opportunities surrounding Glasgow’s burgeoning low-carbon transformation.
We hope to see you there at the SECC on 12 November.
• Andrew Dowding is the founder and managing director of Base Cities, www.basecities.com/glasgow