Reinventing Business in the Reinvented City | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Reinventing Business in the Reinvented City

Glasgow’s urban transformation is visible all over the city. On any measure, the results of 30 years of increased and diversified job creation, business investment, and renewed districts that specialise in financial services, creative and media, life sciences, advanced technology, engineering, or hosting fabulous experiences and sports events, have remade the  city. 

In my 40-year career I have visited and worked with 400 cities, and Glasgow ranks as one of the most determined and effective urban reinventions I’ve seen. I should not be surprised. Invention is Glasgow’s middle name.

One of Glasgow's secret weapons is world class event hosting. Convening  global  gatherings give both a boost to local people and businesses, and at the same time accelerate momentum on larger agendas, by showcasing Glasgow’s progress to the world. The Garden City (1988), City of Culture (1992), and Commonwealth Games (2014) all played key roles, alongside major sports finals and music events, in charting, accelerating, and deepening the city’s progress. 

But in 2021, Glasgow arguably made its boldest step when it hosted the IPCC at the UN Climate Conference, known as The Congress of the Parties, or simply COP. An incredible gathering of world leaders, with the future of the planet as the agenda.

Cities that host COP  take on a special duty. Whether the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, or the Glasgow Pacts, the deals struck at COPs define the next cycle of global progress on climate. It leaves the host city with an extraordinary opportunity and a deep responsibility. They must live true to what has been agreed in their city.

The Glasgow Pacts focus not just on science, carbon tracing, or the other metrics of climate monitoring. They also place business, investment, enterprise and cities at the heart of the transition pathway. This means that if Glasgow is to validate the agreements that bear its name, it must be a leader on these imperatives.

The Congress of Business (COB), hosted by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce is one brilliant example of how Glasgow is driving this agenda forward. Last month the city hosted its second COB, building upon the success of the first event in 2023. With speakers from such diverse sectors as, design, banking, investment, real estate, infrastructure, architecture, and higher education; the 400 strong delegate cohort were able to learn from some of the most innovative minds and businesses.

Climate change is a real and present danger to our planet, our ways of life, health, food, water, and energy security. Therefore it is also a clear and present danger to our business models, assets values, trade opportunities, infrastructure, and return on investment. It we do nothing our economies will ultimately fail.

At the same time, therefore, Climate Change is a clear and present opportunity to innovate, transition, and build new markets. This requires new forms of enterprise and investment that simply did not exist in the last century. Climate change is a calling to reinvent business with a clear purpose.

COB was designed to inspire this and utilise collaborative learning to help firms achieve their net zero objectives faster and more effectively. The event was an inspiring day showcasing Glasgow’s innovation edges. The city is becoming a genuine leader in circular economy, NetZero districts and campuses, clean buildings, and design concepts that embrace frugality and timelessness.

Glasgow is a city with a global reputation for hosting events. It is very quickly becoming a city known for the global leadership in net zero action. That is something Glaswegians can all be  proud of.

I am already looking forward to seeing the credible progress made at the next COB on 13 May 2025.

This article was first published in The Business Insider on Tuesday 9 July 2024.

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