Social Enterprise World Forum 2022

When I first considered attending the 2022 Social Enterprise World Forum, my first instincts were that it was a long way to go for a short conference. International visits over the years have always been interesting and enjoyable but sometimes questionable as to how transferable the learning is.

However, privileged to be part of the Scottish delegation with some good friends and colleagues on the team, I was delighted to book that flight for the 36-hour journey to Brisbane and very glad I did. I was struck by a number of things.

Although some learning is hard to replicate, the issues of land reform and land use have significant similarities. Many generations ago, much of the land of Scotland was lost from the people and transferred by Kings to the nobility and subsequently often sold into the private sector, leaving the people of Scotland out of control of the land and assets that matter to them. For different reasons, the Aboriginal story had similarities, with land lost from tribes that had lived there for thousands of generations. There is a current period of land repatriation. Like Scotland, the land transfer process can be challenging and onerous work for a community that needs to find a sustainable solution for land and assets and have the skills and capacity to manage those assets. The Australian Government’s Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation not only buy up land and holds it until a community is ready (as our Crown Estates has considered doing) but provides the support and capacity building that makes it possible. Combining asset transfer with support is a powerful model that makes things happen on the ground. Visiting SevGen showed us an example of the people of the land generating fruit (literally and financially) to invest in change.

This ecosystem is still the envy of the world, but it is clear from my visit that the rapidly ambitious and expanding infrastructures across the globe are certainly catching up. The challenge for us in Scotland is not just to maintain but constantly improve the support we provide so that Scotland can flourish and find innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenges we are all facing.

So, that’s me booked a spot for 2023 in Amsterdam. Community Enterprise will be there.