“By Leaves we live” Seeding grassroots climate strategies in Edinburgh – A Cockburn Conference

POSTED ON November 15, 2021

A recording of our recent one day climate conference that coincided with CoP26

Well, CoP26 may have finished on a subdued and contested note, but you can still watch below our own thoughtful contribution to the ongoing public conversation about the climate crisis. In this series of recordings will hear from a range of incredible panellists discussing climate change mitigation and seeking practical local responses that can be adopted in and across Edinburgh.

Session 1 –From endless national strategies to neighbourhood initiatives: Whatever happened to “Local Agenda 21”?


Mariana Trusson is a chartered engineer, a member of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers Council and chairs a number of its steering groups. She is an enthusiastic advocate for practical, realistic design measures and actions that make a difference. She specialises in sustainable design strategy, in resource/energy efficiency for new and existing buildings as well as industrial processes. Mariana is a regular guest speaker at Herriot Watt and Strathclyde Universities as well as a provider of CPD seminars for The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). In her spare time she writes about sustainable buildings, chairs the Edinburgh Sustainable Development Partnership and is a trustee of the Cockburn Association.


Petra Biberbach is CEO of award-winning national planning charity Planning Aid Scotland and vice-chair of the Link Group and was previously a member of the boards of Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and Zero Waste Scotland. In 1999, she established the campaign to reopen the Border Railway Line and, in 2013, inspired by the work of Patrick Geddes, she launched the “By leaves we live” initiative at PAS that reflected upon and developed a new understanding of public perceptions of Scotland’s natural resources.

James Garry is Assistant Director of the Cockburn Association. He’s a Chartered Environmentalist and former Chartered Planner, graduate of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities and he is currently engaged in a part-time Classics degree programme with the Open University. Before joining the Cockburn he followed a professional career with several Scottish local authorities and public bodies specialising in sustainability, carbon and climate issues.

Dr Alice Hague is an Environmental Social Scientist in the Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Department at the James Hutton Institute. Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach, and focuses broadly on community engagement with environmental issues and climate change, sustainability transitions, and connections between people and nature. She has been awarded a PCAN Fellowship (2020-2021) by the Place-based Climate Action Network (funded by the ESRC) for a study investigating climate adaptation policy and action at the local level.

Session 2 – Treescape, streetscape and landscape – Building neighbourhood resilience in Edinburgh.


Alastair Cook is an architect and a Cockburn Association Trustee. He has twenty-five years experience working as a development professional in the United Kingdom. Throughout his career, he has focused on design, strategic development and client liaison. He has an established network in Scotland, both in property and politics. A dedication to delivering value to clients through design excellence underlies his approach: well-considered and imaginative solutions partnered with meticulous delivery. Alastair has been involved in heritage for his entire career: he holds an MSc in Architectural Conservation, has RIBA conservation accreditation and an established reputation for imaginative intervention coupled with a commercial approach.


Lila Angelaka is a Senior Technical Officer in the Technical Research Team at Historic Environment Scotland. Her background is in architecture and conservation, and she previously worked as a Casework Officer. In her current role, she provides technical advice, both internally and externally, and is responsible for the writing and editing of a number of technical publications, such as the Technical Papers and Refurbishment Case Studies.

Andrew Heald is one of the founders of “Trees of Edinburgh”, an online campaign to increase Edinburgh’s tree cover, by growing appreciation and knowledge of trees throughout Edinburgh society. He has over 20 years’ experience in forestry and woodland management, and has worked in the UK, Finland, Uruguay and Ghana. Andrew has also worked as a Lead Auditor for environmental management systems and sustainable forestry standards. He runs his own consultancy business advising clients on sustainable land management and creating blended finance investment opportunities. Andrew is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, and spends far too much time on Twitter at @andyheald.

Emily Yates is an award winning self-employed Chartered landscape architect (CMLI) with over 25 years’ experience across all aspects of landscape architecture. She has been design team leader, project manager and lead consultant for projects including: Regeneration, Housing, Streetscape, Public Realm, Parks, Historic landscapes, Planting design, Sustainable Urban Drainage systems, Land Restoration, Play Areas, Schools, Hospitals, Retail and Commercial, Transport, Renewables and Visual and Landscape Character Impact Assessment (LVIA). Her experience includes all stages of planning, design and site supervision from feasibility and concept design, master planning and detail design through to implementation and long-term management and maintenance.

Session 3: Deeds not words! Neighbourhood change starts with people. 1.15pm-2pm


Terry Levinthal is a senior Executive and Non-Executive Director with over 25 years’ experience in public and charity organisations. An Urban Designer and Conservation Professional, he has worked for a range of bodies from national institutions to local groups, applying his diverse experience across each in a manner proportionate to their scale and complexity. Before re-joining the Cockburn as its Director in 2017 (he was its Secretary in the 1990s) he was the owner and Managing Director of a heritage and conservation consultancy. Prior to this, he held various senior roles at organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland, the Scottish Civic Trust and the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority. In April 2020, he was appointed to the Board of Historic Environment Scotland.


Howard Beck is a programme manager interested in building collaborative and multidisciplinary initiatives. His focus is on outreach activities to increase understanding and engagement in climate and environmental emergency action. Over the past three years he has worked with campaigning groups on awareness-raising, education and participatory democracy. He is a Partnerships Coordinator of Our Future Edinburgh, the new community hub for Edinburgh and the Lothians bringing people and groups together to collaborate on actions that transform communities and act decisively on a just and equitable climate & nature transition.

Dr Maureen Child is an elected member for the Portobello/Craigmillar ward of the City of Edinburgh Council. First elected in 1995, after over two decades of service to her local community, Maureen intends to stand-down at the May 2022 election. She has taken a leading role in issues relating to the city’s finance and sustainability throughout her political career and has spent over twenty years on Edinburgh’s Planning Committee. She was previously a member of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, taking on its Scottish vice-chair role, and holds a number of positions in the Council and with external bodies, such as the Craigmillar Opportunities Trust and the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust.

Stuart Hay has held a variety of senior roles focused around developing and delivering campaigns and projects in the environmental and sustainability related fields. Previously working with organisations such as Friends of the Earth Scotland, Transform Scotland, Changeworks, the Edinburgh Community Energy Cooperative, World Wildlife Fund, he is now the director of Living Streets Scotland. His current role sees him address all issues related to walking, urban design and sustainable transport as his organisation campaigns for a healthier environment for pedestrians across Scotland.

Plenary Session – Three panel chairs in conversation with Cockburn Chairperson Prof Cliff Hague.

Prof Cliff Hague OBE is a freelance consultant, researcher, author and trainer and chairperson of the Cockburn Association. He taught generations of Scottish and international planners and was head of the then Department of Town and Country Planning in Edinburgh College of Art / Heriot-Watt University. Today, he is Professor Emeritus of Planning and Spatial Development at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science. He has previously been the President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, and of the Commonwealth Association of Planners and the Chair of Built Environment Forum Scotland. You can access much of his work on his website and recent article, ‘The Festivalisation of Edinburgh: Manifestations, Impacts and Responses’, was published in August.

Keep a look out on our website in the coming days for our conference report about these thought-provoking conversations. Our sincere thanks once again to the live audience who provided lots of useful comments and questions, to all of our wonderful speakers and panel chairs, who generously offered their time and expertise, and to Museums and Galleries Scotland for their support towards this free public conference. 

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