The British Science Association (BSA) is delighted to announce an additional round of funding as part of its Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant scheme, enabling continued support for community groups in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to work with researchers to address local climate change issues. The scheme is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and delivered by the BSA and Science Ceilidh.

Due to the sheer scale of the problem, trying to tackle climate change can be overwhelming and often feel intangible. By focusing on what climate action means for specific places and communities, we can begin to shift our view of tackling climate change to something that is less abstract and more achievable.

The Highlands and Islands Climate Community Grant scheme aims to nurture community-researcher partnerships to engage communities, build resilience and tackle the climate emergency on a local scale, whilst also providing researchers with a greater appreciation of the value of community input.

Learnings from phase one of the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant

Since its launch which coincided with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021, the scheme has supported ten communities who have had fewer opportunities to engage with research, in particular those in rural locations, to lead partnerships with researchers on challenges that matter to them.

This resulted in projects spearheading community action on climate change in many innovative ways, from developing sustainable takeaway packaging for local businesses to piloting the use of seaweed fertilisers to grow vegetables.  

Illustration by Phoebe Roze of discussions at a Community of Practice meeting in November 2022

Caption: Artwork by Phoebe Roze summarising the programme's Community of Practice meeting in Inverness on 1 November 2022.

The first phase of the scheme explored what a participatory, place-based, small grants programme could look like. It demonstrated the powerful potential impacts in local areas, as well as the new relationships forged between climate action groups, their communities and researchers. Building on our learnings, we are launching phase two of the scheme, offering two new types of grants.

This second phase of the scheme aims to widen the network established in phase one by supporting six new community-researcher partnerships through our New Voices Grant, and also continue to work with the community-researcher partnerships from phase one to help drive their projects even further through our Building Capacity Grant.

Apply for a New Voices Grant today

The New Voices Grant will provide funding of up to £5,000 to support groups based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to work with researchers on designing local action around climate change issues that affect their communities. These grants are open to groups that haven’t participated in phase one of the programme and includes a focus on communities from ethnic minority backgrounds, speakers of marginalised languages, and communities facing disadvantage including in terms of education and economic opportunities.

Applications will be open until 10 May 2023, and funded projects are expected to run from September 2023 to March 2024.


The Building Capacity Grant (£2,000) is targeted at the community-researcher partnerships from phase one, providing tailored support and interventions based on their needs, specifically to build capacity and bridge to the next step for their partnership. 

We are in contact with the existing projects directly about this funding opportunity.

One woman wearing a woolly hat outside talking with two older women in coats
Caption: Green Hive's Net Zero Nairn Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant project.

Gill Riches, Director of Programmes at the British Science Association, said:

We are delighted to be expanding the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant through phase two, further supporting and connecting the brilliant community and research activity happening across the Highlands and Islands around climate change.

From the initial phase of the scheme, we have gained a greater understanding of the power of research, and more equitable collaborative relationships between communities and researchers, to drive impactful climate action.

We are looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the different projects in this new phase, which will be locally driven and where all expertise is valued.

UKRI’s support of the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant scheme is part of its wider vision for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally.

Through support and funding for community-led approaches to public engagement, UKRI wants to enable communities across the UK – particularly those that are underrepresented – to play an active role in research and innovation, and benefit directly from it.

Tom Saunders, Head of Public Engagement at UKRI, said:

Through the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grants we have seen tremendous interest from local groups of people in taking part in research that will help their communities respond and adapt to climate change. The projects also highlighted the need for support and capacity building to ensure that no one faces barriers to taking part in research that could benefit their communities. 

Through the second phase of the programme we hope to also extend this support to more diverse communities, to help them connect with researchers to inform community action and respond to climate change.

The BSA will continue to work with Scotland-based community organisation, Science Ceilidh, to provide local support to both community groups and researchers throughout the second phase of the process.

Lauren Pyott, Network Coordinator at Science Ceilidh, said:

In this second round of funding, we are excited to amplify new and existing voices that are often marginalised in climate change spaces, voices which we feel will add important richness to discussions around climate change and community-researcher partnerships. We appreciate that there are barriers to participation in science, research and innovation, as well as climate change activities, and we look forward to working closely with community groups that might not otherwise have the opportunity to work with researchers in this capacity.

We are also looking forward to continuing our work with the existing partnerships through a series of capacity building activities, to help ensure that the learning from round one can be sustained beyond the scope of this funding programme. In a funding landscape that is usually so delivery-driven, this feels like an exciting opportunity for communities to be offered resources to help them think about their bigger picture, and how they might be able to work alongside researchers in tackling local climate change issues in the long-term.

For more information 

For community groups and researchers interested in finding out more, including how to apply and what types of projects are eligible, information can be found on the Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant New Voices webpage.


Get in touch

If you have any questions about the grant scheme or want to find out more, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected]


Our Community Engagement work

The British Science Association also runs a wide range of programmes to support community leaders and organisations who work with groups underrepresented in science.