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Keynote speakers

Find out more about our keynote speakers and conference chair.

We are delighted to announce keynote speakers, Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement and Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

We thank Elizabeth Leighton for being our Conference Chair for a sixth year.

Book to attend the Gathering now.

Keynote Speaker (morning)

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement

Rob Hopkins is the founder of the Transition movement, now active in over 50 countries, which focuses on supporting communities to 'reimagine and rebuild the world'. His work has won several awards, he lectures widely and is author of several books including 'The Transition Handbook' and most recently 'From What Is to What If', his new book which focuses on the need to rebuild our collective imagination. 

In this presentation, Rob will give an overview of his recent research which he presents in 'From What Is to What If', and will set out examples of communities harnessing imagination, while also exploring why it might be that in the time of the climate emergency, our collective imagination doesn't appear up to the task. How might we rebuild our shared imagination, and what might that mean for our democratic and economic models, and how we bring about change? Expect inspiring stories, as well as a bit of a workout for your own imagination!

Keynote Speaker (afternoon)

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform

Roseanna Cunningham was born in Glasgow in 1951 but spent most of her early years in Edinburgh and East Lothian. In 1960, she travelled to Australia with her family and subsequently completed her schooling in Fremantle, Western Australia and obtained her first university degree from University of Western Australia.

She became interested in politics while still a teenager and in fact first joined the SNP in 1969 as an overseas member.
Ms Cunningham returned to Scotland in 1976 and, within only a few months of her arrival, was working full time at SNP HQ, while also being involved in branch and constituency politics in Edinburgh.

In 1980, she returned to university in Edinburgh and obtained a Law Degree followed by a Diploma in Legal Practice from Aberdeen University. From her graduation in 1983 to 1988, she worked as a solicitor in local government. After a brief period in private practice, she became a member of the Faculty of Advocates.

She was elected to the House of Commons in the Perth and Kinross by-election in 1995, was re-elected in 1997 and subsequently stood successfully for the Scottish Parliament in 1999. She stood down from Westminster in 2001.

Ms Cunningham held a number of local and national offices in the SNP, including Deputy Leader from 2000-2004.

She has remained a member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 to present and has three times been a Committee Convener - for the Justice Committee, the Health Committee and most recently the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee before becoming Minister for the Environment in 2009.

She was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training in November 2014 and appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in May 2016.

Conference Chair

Elizabeth Leighton, Chair of Climate Challenge Fund Grants Panel

Elizabeth Leighton is an independent consultant, providing research, policy and strategy advice on climate change, community engagement and sustainability issues. She is the chair of the CCF Independent Grants Panel, which reviews project assessments and provides independent recommendations to Ministers.

Previously, she worked for WWF Scotland as Senior Policy Officer where she advocated policies and programmes to make Scotland’s homes low carbon and managed the education team.  Prior to joining WWF, Elizabeth served with the US Foreign Service, with postings in Moscow, Sofia, Edinburgh and Alaska.

Elizabeth lives in Highland Perthshire with her husband and two sons where she is an active member of the school parent council, and a member of the newly formed Heartland Community Wind Co-operative.

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