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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

The grassroots activity that provides the true foundations for a successful COP26 in Glasgow

This opinion piece is over 2 years old

Geoff Leask says we can all make a difference in making the planet a better place

While the world’s leaders will grab the headlines at November’s COP26, the real plaudits should be heaped on the many grassroots and charitable sustainability projects that indicate that not only is Scotland ready to meet its climate change obligations, it’s on its way.

Look at Wildland, dedicated to a 200-year vision of ecological rehabilitation in the Scottish Highlands through investment in sustainable and thriving local communities by developing the country’s natural capital. In tandem, it is developing a series of business and education ventures designed to show that nature can pay her way. 

Or Circular Glasgow, which is leading the way in raising the profile of the circular economy and what that means in terms of business growth, innovation and resilience. It’s encouraging waste reduction and best use of resources to small and medium sized businesses for the benefit of the economy and the climate.

As the world experienced its hottest month on records in July, even at home we know that climate change is happening, not least through the horrific floods experienced across the country. We need to change our approach to life and work but it can seem too big for us to comprehend or even know where to start –  and can we make any real difference?

The answer is yes. You may know the Starfish Story, where a man comes across a starfish covered beach and a solitary figure throwing them back in the ocean one at a time. Overwhelmed by the scale of what needs to happen, the man approaches and asks what’s the point, what difference is this making? The other man looks at him, picks a starfish up, throws it in the sea saying “made a difference to that one”…

We can all make a difference, regardless of how big the challenge or how insignificant our contribution might seem.

At YE Scotland, our aim is to engage those with the most at stake in tackling climate change - our young people. That has to start as early as possible because they can significantly influence peers and their parents/carers/grandparents in ways that others can’t.

The Circular Economy Challenge for schools and the specific Circular Community Challenge in association with Wildland Ltd for schools in the Highlands have been designed and developed in response to feedback from young people looking to tackle climate change in a different way, closer to home. They are already alive to their personal footprint and want to know what they can do to help change the direction of travel for their local communities and for the planet.

These two Challenges introduce young people to the benefits and principles of the Circular Economy, through practical experience and with the support of business ambassadors. Pupils design a “circular” product or service where everything has value, nothing goes to waste and benefits their local community. Ideas are presented to a judging panel of experts and a winner found.

But none of this works can work in isolation. Projects that link together and work pan-Scotland are needed to support our young people to start to make the difference they know their future life and work needs.