Scotland: The Recovery 2021

Holyrood’s Scotland: The Recovery conference built on last year’s big, bold and inclusive conversation about the way forward for Scotland

Scotland is at a crossroads. As we emerge from the pandemic, we can either plan to return to “normal” or reimagine the world and aspire to do better.

As Scotland emerges from the deepest recession in over 300 years, the pandemic has ravaged our health service, exacerbated existing inequalities in society – including educational outcomes, and driven our cultural scene into a long and deep hibernation.

Scotland’s recovery should not be regarded as purely economic. To truly foster the better world and modern Scotland that we aspire to, this must be seen as an once-in-a-generation opportunity to pursue real and lasting national renewal.

Change is already in progress, from building on the community cohesion necessitated by the pandemic, to revitalizing our town centres and creating a National Care Service. Scotland can, and should, use the opportunity to deliver bold changes in pursuit of the wellbeing of people and planet.

Watch this on-demand to hear from expert speakers and key stakeholders with a diverse range of perspectives, as they contributed to and shape the national narrative towards recovery.

This event is CPD certified in principle
Brian Baglow Headshot
Brian Baglow
Scottish Games Network
Elizabeth Newman Headshot
Elizabeth Newman
Pitlochry Festival Theatre
George Whyte Headshot
Revd Dr George Whyte
Church of Scotland
Sarah Redmond Headshot
Sara Redmond
Kris Krasnowski Headshot
Kris Krasnowski
Office for the Secretary of State for Scotland, UK Government
Lorraine Gray
Scottish Social Services Council
Dr Chris Williams
Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland (RCGP Scotland)
Leon Thompson
UKHospitality Scotland
Prof. Leigh Sparks
University of Stirling
Chris Martin
Social Enterprise Scotland
Cllr. John Alexander
Scottish Cities Alliance
Cllr. Ellen Forson
Clackmannanshire Council
Paul O'Kane Headshot
Paul O’Kane MSP
Scottish Labour
Ken Macintosh Headshot
The Rt Hon Ken MacIntosh
Presiding Officer, 2016 - 2021
Sir Anton Muscatelli
University of Glasgow 
Ivan McKee Headshot
Ivan McKee MSP
Scottish Parliament
As well as being a politician, Ivan's career has involved a number of senior roles in manufacturing and business; managing companies in the UK as well as Poland, Finland, Croatia and Bosnia.
Anna Fowlie
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations
Irene Beautyman
Public Health Scotland and the Improvement Service
Miriam Brett WP
Miriam Brett
Common Wealth

As the vaccine rollout provides a route to life beyond the pandemic we can look forward to the future promise the recovery may bring.  Such was the all-encompassing impact of COVID, Scotland’s recovery cannot and will not just be one where the economy grows back to pre-pandemic levels.  

It is an opportunity to foster social and health recovery, cultural and spiritual renewal and local and community cohesion.  But recovery in Scotland must also be a process and a mechanism to tackle some of the era-defining challenges of our time and harness the opportunities they bring from climate change to technological innovation to an ageing population.

In this session, we will look at Scotland’s vision for recovery, what it will look like; what it will achieve and how it aims to genuinely “build back better” after the pandemic.


In building on a new wave of pandemic-induced communitarianism, the Scottish Government has launched the “Scotland Loves Local” campaign. This campaign promised to define its pioneering 20-minute neighbourhoods in the new planning framework, and promote and embed a Wellbeing Economy approach through a new Community Wealth Building Bill.

This model of more progressive, fair and just recovery has flourished throughout the year in Clackmannanshire and other localities in Scotland.

In this session, we will look at the progress on a more equitable recovery in Clackmannanshire and discuss how community wealth building can benefit every community and individual in Scotland, should it be adopted on a more wholesale basis.  

Our city and town centres are a core part of Scottish life, but they have faced many challenges over recent years – some of which were exacerbated by the pandemic.  

There has been a 22% decrease in high street footfall between 2007 – 2017. However, the recovery offers a once in a generation chance to our town and city centres as more pleasant and attractive places to live in, work in and travel to.

In this session, we will discuss how we build our high streets back to something that exceeds the tired and dying pre-pandemic model.

Scotland’s culture and tourism sectors have been hit badly by the pandemic and the measures necessary to contain the spread of the virus. As such, it has been a challenging year for many tourism, hospitality and creative industry businesses.

In this session, we will discuss how a renaissance in our cultural scene and creative industries can precipitate recovery.  We will also consider the measures recommended by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group and the wider tourism strategy with an ambition to make Scotland a global leader in international tourism by 2030.


In this pre-conference networking session, delegates will be able to discuss lessons from Day 1 of the conference, as well as what they hope to learn on Day 2.

The recent announcements of both forthcoming legislation to institute a National Care Service and a £1 billion NHS Recovery Plan, s underscore the necessity and value of resilient, robust and person-centred health and social care services – something our collective experience during the pandemic illustrated a clear and overriding need for. 

The health, wellbeing and wealth of a nation are all inextricably linked with health outcomes clearly correlating to economic ones.  In this session, we will discuss the Scottish Government’s suite of measures to deliver transformative change in the health and social care sector, how this comprises the strategy to deliver a wellbeing/care economy in Scotland and how a healthier population can also be a wealthier population.


Many of the landmark changes that we have seen from the post-devolution settlement in Scotland have started with a grassroots campaign with the voluntary sector or civic society at its heart.  From the smoking ban to free personal care for the elderly to better social security provision, the voluntary and civic sectors in Scotland have been at the very forefront of driving change. 

However, one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic was these sectors, who often help the most vulnerable people in society, with the Scottish Government having to set up a Third Sector Resilience Fund last year to help keep many organisations afloat. 

The third, civic and social enterprise sector will all be crucial to delivering the holistic economic, social and cultural recovery that has fairness, justice and sustainability at its heart. 

In this discussion, we will illuminate the diversity and value that these sectors can offer and discuss how best to harness that in pursuit of recovery.

Sir Anton will close our event by offering some thoughts and observations on Scotland’s recovery in the coming decade as the nation seeks to achieve Net Zero and With less than a few weeks to go until COP26 takes place in the city of Glasgow, he will offer his reflections on the importance of the Just Transition and in particular how Scotland’s universities can support an inclusive, green and innovation-led recovery for Scotland. Sir Anton will outline how, if it achieves the height of its potential, Scotland can be a leader of the future. 

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