Positive News and Climate Action with Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

With the recent (depressing) announcement that the Scottish Government has ditched its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, it's tempting to distance yourself from the climate challenge agenda altogether. But there are some truly inspiring community-led initiatives happening across Scotland that bring hope.

We recently caught up with Craig Dunn from the  Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN)for an inspiring chat about SCCAN's future, the power of positive news and why it's important we all have our say on policy consultation and stay engaged with climate action.

SCCAN, a community and member-led initiative, has been making a significant impact for over a decade. It officially became a CIC ten years ago, and since then, it has been through a major period of evolution. SCCAN started setting up regional climate action hubs, which now consist of eighteen hubs, with more in development. These hubs are not just physical spaces but vibrant communities driving climate action. Find your local hub and be part of this impactful network.

At the heart of SCCAN’s mission lies the belief in the power of connection. By fostering relationships between individuals and organisations, SCCAN amplifies its impact and creates a network of change-makers. It firmly believes that engaged communities are the catalysts for meaningful change. SCCAN is fostering these connections and using storytelling to highlight the hope and positivity of the climate action movement.

SCCAN's impactful initiative, the 1000 Better Stories campaign, is a testament to the power of narratives in driving climate action. This campaign underscores the importance of sharing stories and engaging in conversations about climate action, as it is through these narratives that hope and inspiration are sparked.

Craig, can you tell us why the 1000 Better Stories Campaign is so important?

‘When people have hope, it translates into action. And to keep that hope alive, we need to focus on the positive. That's why SCCAN is committed to sharing positive news about climate action. We believe that by highlighting the progress and the potential, we can inspire more people to join the movement.’

While national media outlets often focus on the negatives, SCCAN's 1000 Better Stories campaign is a beacon of hope. It showcases the positive impact of even small actions, inspiring people to believe in the power of collective action. When people see others like them taking action and making a difference, hope transforms into action, generating momentum and motivation for change.

Being part of SCCAN means being part of a community united by a common purpose-climate action. Once you join either a regional hub or SCCAN, you are never alone in the fight for climate action and justice. You are part of a collective, a force for change.

You held your Annual Gathering in March. Can you share any key takeaways from the event?

Our Annual Gathering in March was a testament to SCCAN's continued relevance and impact. Despite the establishment of regional hubs, our role remains needed. The event was a platform for our members to express their commitment and motivation, which in turn inspired us to create a new action plan to further our mission.

People said the Gathering helped them fall in love with SCCAN again. It allowed them to reconnect with why SCCAN was so important to them and gave them that nudge to get more involved. Now, we need to make sure we keep them engaged so they can spread that excitement and hope they felt at the Gathering to their networks, and we can create more connections.

Our key takeaways were that:

  • People want to talk face-to-face, make plans, and act.
  • We need a support network for those working in the field. Because of resource restrictions, many people in this sector start in one role and, before they know it, are in another for which they have had no formal training. We need to provide greater support for them.
  • There is a massive gap between where communities are now and where they need to be regarding adaptation. Adaptations need to start now, and we need to educate communities on how to close the community adaptation gap. So, we are off on the road next year. We are taking our ‘Shared Vision Roadshow’ across Scotland. People don’t want another leaflet or toolkit. People want practical implementation, and that is something SCCAN can support with.

SCCAN advocates for change using collective storytelling but also through responding to policy consultations. The SCCAN team have been facilitating workshops for the draft Good Food Nation Bill over the past few months, giving people a chance to discuss concerns and feed into the Bill; we asked Craig why more people should respond to policy consultations and why the Bill is so important to combating climate change.

Why should people get involved with responding to government policy consultations?

Scotland would be amazing if we could bring the vision to life laid out in the Scottish Government policies. It would have a brilliant NHS, a great education system, fair wages for all, and families with food and housing security, but only if we can create the vision and it doesn’t just stay on paper. As the organisations working on the ground, we have first-hand experience of what’s needed. We can also see gaps, especially around resourcing different things. We need to share this information with the government so that policies reflect the real-life needs of communities.

Why is the Good Food Nation Bill important to combating climate change?

The World Health Organisation notes that if every community grew its own food, it would make a real difference to climate change. Food is a basic need. If we can sort that out and make it sustainable by achieving the six outcomes within the Bill, we will have a different society.

If more communities and individuals grow their own food, then we can reduce carbon emissions, reduce food miles, reduce waste, reduce chemical inputs, and save energy. It is also great for mental and physical health to get involved in growing your own food.

A great example is Lauriston Farm, 100 acres of farmland right within the city limits; Edinburgh needs another 15 to achieve the goal of sufficient food. When you scale that up across Scotland, it is a huge undertaking, but it is possible.

The Scottish Government needs to remove GDP and stick to the plan for a well-being economy. GDP excuses bad behaviour. It is not ok that people camp outside factories just so they can work there because the cost of living is so high.

Did you see any key themes emerge from the workshops?

The main concerns are implementing changes—the people and the money to support them. Could it disappear from the government's portfolio if there aren’t enough resources to bring it to life? But that is a concern about many policies.

How can our readers get involved with SCCAN?

  • Join SCCAN
  • Join a circle (these are SCCAN’s networking and learning events). Everyone is busy, but hopefully, through our new marketing activities, we can encourage people to get involved, even if it's just a few times a year in between everything else life throws at us these days.

Speaking with Craig reminded us how important it is to share our stories. In doing so, others can be inspired to take positive action in their own communities. We are lucky at Community Enterprise to experience this firsthand: We often look for stories from elsewhere to shape and guide the work we do and pass that learning on to clients. This summer, we will be ramping up our storytelling and hitting the road. Keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming video interviews with clients telling us about their journeys.

We aim to participate in SSCAN’s ‘Shared Vision Roadshow’ next year. We share their view that increased connections and partnership working across the communities of Scotland will be a catalyst for change because, as Craig said, ‘engaged communities are at the heart of change’.

Want to get involved with responding to Scottish Government policy consultations? Visit the Citizen Space, where you can see a list of all live consultations and get updates on progress.