The British Science Association (BSA) is delighted to announce the ten successful projects that have received funding from our latest grant scheme, ‘The Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grant’. 

Funded by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the scheme has awarded funding of up to £4,500 to support community groups in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to work with a researcher to run a project on a local climate issue that matters to them.

The ten projects that will receive the funding offer a wide breadth of different topics, themes, and geographical reach. Here’s a look at the successful projects:

All of the projects have been matched with a relevant researcher via the BSA’s networks. The projects will run through until October 2022.

Kate Orchard, Head of Community Engagement at the British Science Association, said:

“It has been a real pleasure finding out more about the communities and people involved in these fantastic projects in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland.

“When developing this grant scheme with UKRI late last year, we explored two questions: ‘How could we enable communities to make a local difference building on the momentum from COP26?’ and ‘How could we support community groups in the Highlands and Islands to explore local action on climate change through connecting them with a researcher?’. These ten projects will offer great examples of how to answer these two questions.”

The successful projects have been selected by a panel of engagement specialists and local experts following a competitive submission process, which saw over 30 organisations put themselves forward.

Simon Hart, a member of Làn Thìde – the Outer Hebrides Climate Beacon - and a member of the selection panel for the grant scheme, said:

"I am very impressed with the range of projects funded, as well as the enthusiasm and commitment of the groups involved as they seek to develop sustainable and imaginative ways to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in their local areas. This brilliant funding scheme helps to empower people, providing them with resources to start to create meaningful interventions and change in and with their own communities."

Last year (October 2021), ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, the Office for National Statistics’ Opinions and Lifestyle Survey revealed that three-quarters (75%) of adults in the UK said they were worried about the impact of climate change. For 43% of people, the feeling of anxiousness about the future of the environment was exacerbated even further in the run-up to COP26.

Additional research from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Public Attitudes Tracker, highlighted that 8 out of 10 people (82%), agreed that if everyone did their bit, together, we could reduce the effects of climate change.

With global climate change under the spotlight, communities are not only concerned about the climate emergency, but are keen to take part in tackling it. This scheme will develop equitable, collaborative relationships between local communities and researchers, which will in time lead to longer-term collaborations.

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

“UKRI are committed to enabling the active engagement of communities, particularly those that are underrepresented, in research and innovation. There are many communities and places across the UK that are likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change, but who do not have opportunities to be part of the conversation about the research and innovation which can address these challenges.

We are delighted to be working with the British Science Association to support this diverse group of projects to enable communities to engage with and influence climate research. We look forward to seeing the impact these projects will have for the communities, and the learning they will provide about the value of supporting community-led research.

The Scotland-based educational organisation, Science Ceilidh, is working with the BSA to provide support to both community groups and researchers throughout the entire grant-scheme process.

Lewis Hou, Founder and Director of Science Ceilidh, said:

“The only way we are going to be able to support meaningful climate action and a just transition in Scotland and beyond, is by supporting communities and researchers to work together, to learn from each other’s experiences and expertise.

“I’m really excited by this wide range of projects across the Highlands and Islands exploring what climate change means in their communities and building new relationships with researchers and each other. A massive thank you to our stakeholder supporters and panel to date, and looking forward to seeing what develops next”

With thanks to the panel of engagement specialists and local experts who selected the ten projects, including: Helen Featherstone, an independent public engagement consultant and Head of Public Engagement at the University of Bath; Inga Burton, University Engagement Manager, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE); Simon Hart, Taigh Chearsabhagh and Làn Thìde; Anja Johnston, Highland Council Youth Convener; Sarah Skerratt, Professor of Rural Society and Policy and Director of Programmes at Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE); and Stephanie Strother, Energy Knowledge Exchange Coordinator, Environmental Research Institute, University of Highlands and Islands (UHI).  

Stay tuned over the coming months as we’ll be posting regular updates on these projects. If you’d like to further stay up to date with these projects and other BSA community engagement work, follow BSA Communities on Twitter.

Read more about the Highlands and Island Climate Change Community Grant scheme

If you have any questions, please get in touch at [email protected].