Orkney’s contribution to the Scottish Government’s Big Climate Conversation took place on Wednesday 14th of August at 5.30pm in the St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall.
Although contributors only had two hours to discuss issues in their groups and feedback ideas via an online App the first part of the meeting was addressed by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change, and Land Reform – Roseanna Cunningham.
Talking to an audience which was already well aware that climate change was happening, Roseanna Cunningham listed the many positive things happening in Orkney, some of which she had visited that day.
Roseanna Cunningham said:
“You are here because you believe climate change is a big issue.”
She explained what the Scottish Government is already putting in place, and has been doing so for over 10 years, like building flood defences. She said that climate change was “already impacting us ” and that it was “important people know this.”
“You guys are going to notice these changes in your daily lives. People need to talk amongst themselves about the reality of what it means in their lives.”
And she posed the question: “What does that mean for you and what are you prepared to do?”
She then when on to describe the importance of Scotland continuing to take a leading role in addressing the impact of climate change because “we have one of the dirtiest hands in the world,” – a reference to Scotland’s role in the Industrialisation of the world.
The meeting was then facilitated by Keep Scotland Beautiful who gave people discussion points and issues to work through. This was then fed back instantly online. For those not online there was a paper based booklet they could fill in.
The audience was not a diverse cross section of Orkney society but was made up of people who are mostly very knowledgeable about the climate emergency we are in now. In that sense the event was only reaching people who are already well informed. Nevertheless lively discussions did take place in groups because people have different priorities.
The Big Climate Conversations which have taken place and are still to happen in Scotland are part of a larger process where it is hoped public engagement will be used to feed into and influence government policy.
- Open Public Workshops
- Targeted Workshops
- Digital Workshops
- Hold your own Workshops
There is some funding available for groups who wish to hold their own workshops.
The most sensible and logical point, however, was made almost at the close of the meeting when a member of the audience expressed his concern that all night we had been ranking issues in a linear framework. Instead he said we should be looking at the whole system. That point was crucial but Roseanna Cunningham had left the event well before then. It is only hoped that a vital point like that, which the facilitators agreed was important feedback, is taken on board .
Reporter: Fiona Grahame