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Working across borders to tackle climate change

A blog post by Ross Brannigan


Last week, we were delighted to have Promise and Joanna, from Malawi’s Climate Leaders project, to our offices in Stirling. They were joined by Lotte from the 2050 Climate Group. During their visit, we exchanged ideas and told them about our Climate Challenge Fund and Eco-Schools Scotland programmes. This visit adds to our commitment to collaborate to create solutions for Scotland's environment, and builds on the success of our Scotland Lights Up Malawi campaign.

It also underlines our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which set out a positive vision for the future - to tackle poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development across the world. This international framework unites Scotland and Malawi in our efforts to achieve a common goal: to tackle climate change.

Here, some of our employees share the impression Promise and Joanna’s visit left on them.

Our Project Officer Aoife Hutton hosted our guests during their visit and loved the experience.

“We really enjoyed welcoming Promise, Joanna and Lotte into our offices at Keep Scotland Beautiful. We so often speak about big environmental problems from the context of our perspective here in Scotland, and it is so valuable to get the bigger, global picture. I really enjoyed the opportunity for our team to hear about challenges and similarities between our work and that of Promise and Joanna in Malawi – our guests brought with them a lot of inspiration and ambition, which I hope we can apply here in Scotland.

“Hearing Promise talk about the very real and present effects of climate change on communities in Malawi gave us a real call to action to step up efforts in Scotland. Although we are already experiencing some effects of climate change here, for many this is still an abstract concept, something that will affect us “in the future”. In Malawi, there is not the option to think about it later – droughts, floods, changes in seasons patterns are already significantly altering people’s livelihoods and security.

“The concept of climate justice felt apt. Promise and Joanna spoke about the often uphill efforts of communities to tackle climate change and protect the environment in Malawi. Meanwhile, historically, Malawi is one of the smallest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, the UK ranked 17th in terms of contribution to global CO2 emissions. Malawi was 159th. Historically, the UK has also had much higher contributions to global emissions. It is important for us to be aware of this historical context, to be aware of our global position (and responsibility) and to redouble our efforts in tackling climate change as a matter of urgency.”


Our Education Coordinator Anne-Marie enjoyed learning about how young people are providing leadership on environmental issues

“The issues schools have in Scotland are very similar to those in Malawi. Malawian people are suffering from the impacts of climate change and these are challenging in terms of impacting people’s basic needs.
“We want to explore how we can collaborate with the young people in the 2050 programme, support their fantastic work and help Scottish children understand climate justice issues and their impacts.”

Tim from our Climate Challenge Fund team found it humbling to hear first-hand accounts of the impacts of climate change in Malawi

"Climate change is truly a global problem, so we are keen to share videos and case studies from the Malawi Leaders with the Scottish Climate Change Community to demonstrate just how big an impact climate change has on Malawi.

We are not alone in taking action to help tackle climate change in Scotland; it was inspiring to hear of the enthusiasm for local action in Malawi. By sharing experiences and working together we can inspire positive change. Even if we are thousands of miles away from each other.”

It was an eye-opening and enjoyable experience to have Promise and Joanna visit us. Scotland and Malawi have had a close partnership for over 150 years, with partnerships and opportunities for collaboration blossoming between the two countries since then. The Scotland-Malawi Partnership launched in 2004, with now 1,000 member organisations and key individuals, including half Scotland's local authorities, every Scottish university and most of its colleges, 200 primary and secondary schools, dozens of different churches and faith-based groups, hospitals, businesses, charities and NGOs, and a wide range of grass-root community-based organisations. 

We look forward to following the progress of Malawi’s Climate Leaders project as it unfolds in the coming months.

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