The Scottish Parliament's think-tank

Autumn 2021 update

FoP 2021 Cover Image

Ahead of what promises to be a momentous few weeks for our shared future, both in Scotland and globally, we’re delighted to share with you an update on the work of Scotland’s Futures Forum.

As the Scottish Parliament’s think-tank, we’re excited to be principal partners for the Parliament’s Festival of Politics. The Festival, which runs from 20 to 24 October, will debate what action needs to happen to tackle the climate emergency.

We’re also welcoming new directors to support our work, while saying goodbye to one of the Futures Forum’s key figures over the past decade.

Read on for all in the details. As ever, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on

Festival of Politics: Wednesday 20 to Sunday 24 October, online

Bringing together academics, writers, policymakers, business people and politicians, the 2021 Festival of Politics will debate what action needs to happen to tackle the climate emergency.  

Taking place over five days, our free online panel sessions allow you to have your say. Has the world gone past its tipping point or can it be saved through science, technology and innovative action? Themed around the United Nations’ Sustainable Goals, it will also explore the impact of climate on other issues such as poverty and inequality.

Book your free tickets now and find out more about Scotland’s place in tackling the world’s climate crisis as it prepares to host global leaders for the COP26 conference.

Scotland 2045: A Sustainable Society

As lead partners for the Festival, we were delighted to co-host the first event of this year’s programme on 16 September. With questions of sustainability and change in everyone’s mind, we took a look at what a sustainable society would actually look like.

Our panel featured the campaigner Zarina Ahmad, economist Katherine Trebeck and the author James Robertson, and the discussion ranged widely. Questions from the audience dealt with the distribution of power, community involvement and the role of art and culture, as well as social justice and how we are governed.

Our event page includes a written report and a video of the event.

New external directors

As a result of our recent recruitment process, we have appointed two new external directors to the Futures Forum board. Esther Roberton and Diarmaid Lawlor joined in the summer and will help oversee our work.

Esther Roberton

Esther has significant expertise in governance with more than 20 years as a chair and non-executive director of organisations from small charities to multi-million pound public bodies.

She also helped to establish the Scottish Parliament, having served as co-ordinator of the Constitutional Convention and then as a member of the Consultative Steering Group.

Diarmaid Lawlor

Diarmaid is a designer, educator, and communicator. With a multidisciplinary background, and over 20 years’ experience working across sectors in the UK and Europe, Diarmaid champions creative approaches to making better places. 

He is currently an associate director at the Scottish Futures Trust, having previously been head of place at Architecture and Design Scotland.

Directors are responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of Scotland’s Futures Forum and its programme of work. We’ve very happy to have Esther and Diarmaid on board, and we look forward to working with them in the coming years.

Retiring director

Andrew Cubie speaking in the Scottish Parliament
31 January 2018 Pic – Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

After a decade of service, Sir Andrew Cubie has stepped down from the Futures Forum board.

Andrew joined as a director in 2011, after several years of working with the Futures Forum through his role as chair of the Goodison Group in Scotland, a charity dedicated to promoting learning through life.

In these roles, Andrew helped lead innovative projects on the future of education and learning in Scotland, most notably on Scotland as a world-leading learning nation and on schooling, education and learning in 2030 and beyond.

Andrew’s connections with the Parliament go even further back. He served on the Consultative Steering Group in 1998, which worked out the detail of how Scotland’s new Parliament was going to do its job. Since then, he has been a strong supporter of devolution in general and the Futures Forum in particular.

Andrew brought both enthusiasm and practical support for the work of the Futures Forum to his time as a director, and supporting officials have hugely valued his advice and guidance. Through his work with the Goodison Group, Andrew will continue to work with the Futures Forum. However, we take this opportunity to say thank you to him and wish him well on his next adventures.

Our mailing list…

At Scotland’s Futures Forum, we run a mailing list for those interested in our work.

We only keep your name and email address, and we use the mailing list to send messages about upcoming events and other work that may be of interest. We send a couple of emails a month at most. We ask only for your name and email address, and we never share your information with anyone else.

However, if you change your mind, there is an option to unsubscribe on every message.