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Events Tackle Climate Change

Mon 20 Sep 21

In Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters and with Scottish Climate Week 2021 now underway, VisitScotland are taking a look at how organisers have been promoting important environmental messages and ensuring their events are run sustainably. 

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) (31 October – 12 November) is the event on everyone’s mind this year, with a view to uniting the world in tackling climate change. Hosted in Glasgow, the summit will bring parties together to accelerate actions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Visit the UN Climate Change Conference website for more information

Across in Dundee, the countdown to COP26 will begin on 26 September with HubFest (26 September). As well as launching the local events that lead up to the summit itself, celebrations will include the opening of the city’s cycle hub. Organisers are encouraging active travel to the event, recycling and reusable bottles. Furthermore, LED streetlamps in the area will be used in place of generators to power the event. The ultimate aim is to make this event, which marks the opening of the new Waterfront Active Travel Hub and the launch of their programme of activities relating to COP26, as sustainable as possible. Visit the HubFest website for more information.

One special guest sure to make an impression at COP26 is STORM, a spectacular mobile sculpture created by Vision Mechanics. Towering at ten metres tall and made entirely of recycled materials, STORM is a goddess of the sea, emerging from the deep for a ten-date Scottish tour encouraging us all to take better care of our seas and coastlines. She began her journey back at Celtic Connections 2020, supported through EventScotland in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. Her journey is still underway across Scotland with notable visits to Fringe by the Sea (6 - 15 August) in North Berwick, Source to Sea (24 July - 7 September) in Burghead and Narin Book and Arts Festival (4 - 12 September). Quite the Scottish celebrity now,her appearance at COP26 is sure to turn a few heads!  Visit the Storm website for more information.Storm puppet created by Vision Mechanics


With Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters approaching its final months, STORM is not alone in spreading the message of caring for our seas. The Scottish Seabird Centre, one of the UK’s leading conservation and education charities, hosted Marine Fest (31 May – 13 June), offering an educational and fun way for people of all ages to learn about the challenges our waters and wildlife face and what we can all to do help. Ahead of their launch back in May, organisers shared their aims with us. Visit the Marine Fest website for more information.

As climate change warms our oceans and threatens the basis of all life, our conservation and education work are now more important than ever. Our Marine Fest programme of activities should provide something for members of the local community and visitors to enjoy.

Susan Davies, Chief Executive, Marine Fest

Scotland’s island communities are of course intrinsically tied to the water and this year’s Orkney International Science Festival (2 – 8 September) paid particular attention to engaging the public in climate change debate through their programming, inspiring people to make changes in their own lives. Organisers shone a spotlight on Orkney as a sustainable island and celebrated the real innovation in renewables and wider sustainability on its shores. Visit the Orkney International Science Festival website for more information.

The world's most powerful tidal turbine, the O2

Leading scientists at this year’s festival highlighted the global evidence for climate change, as well as actions that communities are taking, from renewable energy schemes to planting woodland. Furthermore, Orkney's pioneering role in marine renewables, including the development of the world's most powerful tidal turbine and the use of hydrogen from renewables for ferry and aircraft trials, was featured in three events.

Howie Firth, Director, Orkney International Science Festival


Orkney also reached across the globe in the search for creative solutions for island waste challenges in a special 90-minute collaboration with the Virtual Island Summit. The festival was joined by islands across Scotland and further afield, including South Caicos in the Caribbean, the Juan Fernandez Islands 400 km from the Chile coast, and the world's remotest island, Tristan da Cunha. 

Within the scientific community, Edinburgh Science Festival (26 June – 11 July) takes its responsibility to lead by example very seriously and its programming has reflected this with guests, such as David Attenborough, appearing over the years. More recently, their work has become increasingly pro-active, engaging directly with supporters, businesses and politicians through their Climate Opportunity Ideas Factory roundtable. Visit the Edinburgh Science Festival website for more information.

One such initiative arising from this is The NetZeroToolkit which provides SMEs of any size and from any sector to build an effective and measurable carbon reduction strategy – this project is already having an impact within Edinburgh and beyond. We are committed to ensuring that climate and environment will remain central to the planning and delivery of all aspects of Edinburgh Science programming and we will continue to rise to the challenges of educating and acting on the global climate emergency that faces us.

Dr Simon Gage, Director and CEO, Edinburgh Science Festival


Five women in roundtable discussion at Edinburgh Science Festival

Such direct engagement can only help to educate and combat climate change and, in a similar vein, the Scottish Wild Food Festival (18 – 19 September) sought to reconnect people to their environment, to improve health, wellbeing and local communities. Visit the Scottish Wild Food Festival website for more information.

Our programme is about encouraging seasonal eating and low-carbon food choices, increasing climate literacy and encouraging people to see the resources around them. If we learn to eat dandelions instead of using pesticide on them, everyone wins!

Phyllis Martin, Production Manager, Scottish Wild Food Festival


Support from EventScotland and the festival's new home at Tir na nOg Holistic Centre has given organisers the chance to invest in permanent infrastructure to reduce the environmental impact of the event going forward. 

And there’s more to come this year! The Scottish Geology Festival (1 September – 17 October) is hosting a public lecture, Climate Change in Edinburgh: Past, Present and Future, on 6 October at Dynamic Earth. Visit the Scottish Geology Festival website for more information.

Later that month, not only will Paisley’s Halloween Festival programme (28 October – 1 November) shine a light on the River Cart as a natural asset, organisers have also reviewed their supply chain in line with sustainability objectives and will have a central installation made from items collected from local litter picks. Visit Paisley's Halloween Festival website for more information.

The world is certainly changing at pace and, not least because of the Coronavirus pandemic, our industry has been adapting accordingly. Environmentally focused events are a key part of Scotland’s offering and organisers are striving to reflect this in their events’ sustainability. Here’s to a brighter and greener future for everyone.   
More information about how you can make your event more sustainable can be found on the VisitScotland website. 

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