Rachel Sandison reflects on COP26

Published: 23 November 2021

Vice-Principal, External Relations, shares her reflections on COP26

Earlier this month the eyes of the world were on Glasgow as over 190 world leaders, along with local government, industry, NGOs and activists, gathered in the city in an urgent bid to tackle climate change and accelerate the race to net zero.

COP26 has felt vital, and both the city and the University have played key roles in connecting people, sharing ideas and galvanising our communities in addressing one of the most pressing issues we face today.

Throughout COP26 the University delivered a comprehensive programme of events. Over 200 physical, hybrid and virtual events have taken place, bringing together both local and international partners from a multitude of sectors. These activities have played an incredibly important role in profiling our world-changing people and the work being undertaken to address climate change and climate justice, as well as critically highlighting the impact of inaction. From panel debates, podcasts and webinars, to exhibitions, showcases and community events, our programme has been interdisciplinary, multigenerational, and rich with opportunities for discussion and debate, which we hope has inspired all who participated.

During this time, our Gilmorehill campus also acted as a focal point for the media, where we have supported global news coverage and shared our expertise with the world.

I would like to thank every member of the University of Glasgow community who has led on, contributed to, or engaged with, our activities and those across the city – you have given Glasgow an unforgettable experience.

But, COP26 has never simply been about two weeks in November. We hope that what has been achieved in our city, through the historic Glasgow Climate Pact, is the next step on the world’s journey to saving itself from the impact of warming global temperatures and climate change.

At the University we too are focused on the important legacy that the summit will leave, not just for us, but, hopefully for the world. It is now vital that we deliver the ambitious goals set out in our Glasgow Green sustainability strategy and through collaboration share actions, research and initiatives to build awareness and make commitments for the future. Universities are drivers of change and engines of sustainable development and the time to harness our vast potential is now.

For me personally, COP26 reinforced the power of people, partnership and possibility. This is an extraordinary moment in history – as David Attenborough said at the opening of the summit, it is time to ‘rewrite our story’, and I have no doubt that, together, we can pen a new chapter.

Rachel Sandison

Vice-Principal, External Relations

First published: 23 November 2021