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Young climate leaders meet with Sustainable Scotland Network

7 March 2019

The Sustainable Scotland Network (SSN) and Adaptation Scotland welcomed Promise Matatiyo, Project Coordinator from Malawi’s Climate Leaders Project to ECCI earlier this month. Malawi’s Climate Leaders Project aims to engage young Malawians on the challenges posed by the impacts of climate change in their communities while developing leadership skills and creating a network of ambitious young individuals striving for a sustainable future. The project is part of a Scottish Government funded partnership between Malawi Scotland Partnership and 2050 Climate Group.

Promise and Youth Leader, Joanna Ziwa from Malawi’s Climate Leaders Project have taken part in a month-long exchange with Scotland’s 2050 Climate Group. Their visit has been about developing a two-way intercultural relationship and creating opportunities for engagement and shared learning with industry professionals, organisations and volunteers.

Shared stories, unique environments

As part of the knowledge exchange, Promise and 2050 Climate Group members met with Adaptation Scotland and colleagues from the SSN secretariat team. SSN shared how they support public sector organisations to take climate action through carbon reporting and capacity building. During the meeting Promise described the climate change impacts directly affecting Malawi, explaining the extreme weather events that induce devastating flooding and droughts, affecting food, water and energy supply, and livelihoods. These issues link closely with the work of Adaptation Scotland providing thought-provoking comparisons of the two countries.

Promise discussed how flooding has a consistently damaging impact on the lives of many people living in Malawian villages with communities leaving their homes during high levels of rain and returning to repair the damage once the flooding has subsided. Promise explained that this cycle is frequent, yet many residents are unwilling to relocate.

Engagement, resilience and agency are critical issues for any community confronting the reality of climate change. Good communication, shared knowledge and local capacity are also key – all of which ring as true for those of us working in sustainability and climate change in Scotland as in Malawi.

Learning from Scotland’s historic environment

Over the exchange, Promise and Joanna had opportunities to engage with many organisations involved in climate action, and gain insight into how Scotland is adapting to climate change. Alongside 2050 Climate Group representatives, they met with SSN member, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to learn how HES have built climate change into their strategy. Recognising both immediate and long-term impacts of climate change is critical as they continue to care for hundreds of places of national importance across Scotland.

The Historic Environment Scotland team welcomed the visitors to Edinburgh Castle for a tour and insight into managing the Castle’s carbon emissions. As the largest carbon emitter in their care, HES shared the adaptation and mitigation measures in place at the Castle and their strategies to help meet Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets.

David Harkin, Climate Change Scientist at Historic Environment Scotland said,

“We were delighted to welcome 2050 Climate Group and Promise and Joanna from the Malawi’s Climate Leaders project to Edinburgh Castle. The castle was the perfect spot to introduce them to the ways we are working to lower the environmental impact of our operations. We’ve achieved a great deal, but we know that we must up our ambition going forward to achieve even more. It was a great opportunity to share experiences, lessons learned and new ideas – this is the sort of engagement that can lead to meaningful climate action across Scotland and SSN member organisations.”

Throughout their visit, Promise and Joanna met a range of people and groups at the forefront of climate action, from Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham to Extinction Rebellion, to Scotland’s young climate leaders. Promise and Joanna have the opportunity to share their country’s work on climate change – two 2050 Climate Group representatives are in Malawi now to continue the exchange.

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