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from the editor — issue seven: a year on from COP

Issue eight is incoming, so we're reflecting back to our last issue - a year on from COP - and it's themes of sustainability, the climate crisis and the environment, as we eagerly await our newest instalment...

Sustainability comes in all shapes and sizes. It is something that can always be improved, further considered and more empathically attuned to. Being conscious of the environment which sustains us can be fulfilling, can be inspiring and can be equally exhausting. For better or worse, the pressure to be socially conscious, environmentally sustainable and financially viable is constantly rising. The pressure is on us, enterprises, and our governments.

We decided to open up the conversation on sustainability to see differing perspectives on environmentalism, from community projects to nature watching, we wanted it all. With climate change ever more apparent and discussed, but not everyone savvy on climate politics, we decided to use the annual Conference Of Parties to provide some context. Glasgow hosted COP26 in 2021, putting Scotland and the UK at the centre of some of the discussions.

Since the conference closed in November 2021 and the start of COP27 in October 2022, we have had oil fields purchased, the hottest summer overall on record, droughts and floods in quick succession, and the most polluted waterways and seasides in decades. After being cajoled into attending COP27, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, took a positive step by pledging 1.5 billion pounds to international climate finance in 2025, for reparations and sustainable development! Yet, at the same time he participated in the opening of a coal mine in England.

In Scotland we see two women, the First Minister, Nichola Sturgeon and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater taking steps towards green skills growth and sustainable development, including vocally opposing the development of the Cambo Oil Field. We have to look at the backward steps that are being made in energy production in the name of self sufficiency, the poverty divide making it harder for those less well off to choose circular and environmental and think who is helping? Why are we still seeing eco-conscious products with the highest price tags? Who is responsible? How can we change it?

During COP27, the dialogue turned to how embracing the voices of women and youth must happen to see real change. There has been a plea for the countries who are responsible for more climate pollution to financially support the global south - who will disproportionately feel the impacts of climate change. Within the global south it is women who feel the strongest effects. In rural communities in the global south, men are increasingly being pushed by climate change to urban spaces in search of work, leaving women vulnerable to extreme poverty and gender-based violence, while taking care of their land and their families. Despite the growing evidence of climate change affecting women particularly harshly, do we see women in power asserting their knowledge and position to support women at home and abroad? Not enough, because funnily enough we still see a significantly higher number of men in power deciding their fates too.

MSP, Lorna Slater recently spoke on overcoming the resource extraction inherent in capitalism at the Circular Communities Scotland Annual Conference, where Scottish social enterprises who are invested in environmentalism came together. Lorna wants to relabel ‘waste’ as ‘potential resources’ to make production and consumption circular.

She sees social enterprises leading the way, such as The Remakery (women-run social enterprise) who work to support accessible reuse and repair. The Remakery enables communities and individuals in need, with repaired devices, they run workshops to learn the skills to make sustainability approachable and provide a welcoming space to relax, learn and connect, all in Ocean Terminal in Leith. Moray Waste Busters who stop items going to landfill and find use are now working on ways to make zero-waste more accessible for more communities. Ostrero ‘Making Circles’ (women-run social enterprise) run creative Circular Design workshops for all those interested in designing out waste.

Circular Communities Scotland strives ‘to make Scotland’s circular economy greater than the sum of its parts’ by connecting people doing the work on the ground, to initiate changemaking sub-sector support. These are just a couple of examples of third sector businesses with sustainability at its core. Working in the third sector is undeniably hard, with a lack of funding and of understanding we face, so for sustainability it is essential to reach out, support one another and spread the word on what we are all doing! It is our hope that social enterprises can work hand in hand with governmental bodies to ensure that sustainability is not only approachable for all, but instinctual.

If you are looking to encourage your children in leading a healthy and sustainable life look to government supported projects such as Edinburgh Community Food, who have teamed up with Veg Power UK to deliver a pilot project across Edinburgh to get children interested and learning all about growing food to eat - #tomtastic. We are so enthused to see what can be done thanks to the financial support of the government - imagine what we could achieve with more financial and incremental policies in place to support our sustainable potential.

We have seen the worry lines grow as much as garden patch veggies for the environmentally conscious, at least that’s the case in the little living room household. We want to see it made easier from the top down. Capitalism needs to work with this in mind, the governments have the power to work like social enterprises do, but on a larger scale! To ensure production is more cyclical, that eco packaging isn’t a luxury but a necessity, with the knowledge that they can still make profit without causing irreparable damage to us and our planet.

Becca Gallacher



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