Your charity for Scotland’s environment

Scotland Lights up Malawi

In 2014, the 2020 Climate Group, a business led initiative focused on meeting Scotland’s carbon reduction targets, launched its climate change objectives. These included identifying the dependencies between climate change, international development and education.


With our track record of major environmental programme delivery, access to extensive education and environmental resource materials and our unique networks of civic, business and academic partners, our charity was identified as a key delivery partner.

With the support of Scotland’s First Minister and working with the 2020 Climate Group, we set ourselves the objective of engaging and educating all sectors of Scottish society on the issue of climate justice. In addition, we recognised the opportunity to deliver a step change in behaviours and attitudes to climate change within Scottish schools and civic society.

We also set ourselves the bold target of embedding a new approach to climate change education into teaching and learning across schools in Scotland.


Co-creation: our partners

We brought together a set of unique partners. This innovative and unique partnership included Solar Aid, a renewable energy development organisation and Glasgow Caledonian University. The partnership was also underpinned by philanthropic and community fundraising efforts led by the 2020 Climate Group.


Delivery: The Scotland Lights Up Malawi education programme

The purpose of the Scotland Lights Up Malawi education programme was to promote and support awareness of climate change to young people and to measure and demonstrate the value of linking environmental educational initiatives to a real life, inspiring action from young people, teachers and communities across Scotland. 

As well as developing an innovative professional learning programme for teachers and enriched classroom materials to support interdisciplinary learning within the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, our education programme was designed to complement schools’ progress in achieving the Eco-Schools Green Flag Award.

Eco-Schools is operated internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education and we manage the programme in Scotland. The initiative connects more than 15 million children, young people and educators across 62 countries worldwide and we recognised the value in linking Scotland Lights Up Malawi to this global education programme.


In total, 78 schools took part in the programme, with over 2,500 pupils involved in project activities. In addition, more than 80 teams registered for the Scotland Lights Up Malawi campaign challenge, a national school competition to produce a persuasive and dynamic climate justice campaign. Teams entered local finals, hosted in cluster secondary school and these events involved local authority education and sustainability officers, 2020 Climate Group members, Junior Climate Challenge Fund panel members, local business and enterprise staff as judges in the programme.

A team from Glenburn Primary School in South Ayrshire were crowned champions with their animation about the impact of climate change and the changes needed to improve life for those most affected.


Impact and measurement

Over 2,500 pupils from across Scotland participated in the programme and we clearly demonstrated the enhanced value of aligning learning and teaching materials, classroom challenges and pupil engagement with a real-time environmental programmes and initiatives.

A key innovation success of this project was the development, implementation and testing of a range of education and learning materials to promote and enhance knowledge and understanding of climate change and climate justice within schools and with young people and teachers across Scotland.

In addition, the Scotland Lights Up Malawi project also delivered a measurement legacy framework that is still currently utilised to develop and measure environmental initiatives within Scotland linked to education, business engagement and philanthropic activity.

A final key conclusion from this work has been the powerful impact of adopting a social innovation approach through education and training, and its’ impact on changing societal behaviours and mindsets on climate change and climate justice issues.


“Scotland Lights up Malawi has been very good because of all the resources that we’ve used in the classroom we can share with our cluster and also other people within our school. Scotland Lights up Malawi has offered to give us solar panel lights so the children can actually experience first hand what the children in Africa go through every day, so it’s something we want to develop as a school and then hopefully as a cluster, involving the high school pupils as well.” Samantha Bajo, Linlithgow Primary School