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Emily’s Winning Orkney Message in a Bottle: #ClimateChange

Climate Change Message in a Bottle is a project based at Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG) which has been encouraging young islanders across Scotland to think creatively about their carbon neutral island futures.

Through the project, primary and secondary school pupils across the islands have been producing artwork and stories to represent their hopes for a sustainable, climate-friendly future on their islands. The project is funded by the Scottish Government who, in June 2022, will release a progress report for the Carbon Neutral Islands project – a programme for government commitment aimed at supporting up to six islands in their journey to decarbonisation by 2040. One piece of artwork produced by a young islander for Climate Change Message in a Bottle was selected by public vote for the front cover of the Carbon Neutral Islands progress report. The winner was Emily, who attends Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney.

Across 140 stories submitted from fourteen Scottish island schools the most commonly mentioned themes were renewable energy; local food production; active, public and shared transport; waste management and circular economy; and climate friendly transport services. In Orkney, pupils at Kirkwall Grammar School participated. Below are some examples of their visions for the year 2040:

“When I am older, I hope to become a marine biologist. This job will help the environment by protecting the environment that sea animals/creatures live. I will get to work by either cycling, walking and/or taking a boat to where I need to be. My island will be powered by windmills, solar panels and wave turbines. – Alannah, Kirkwall Grammar School

“When I am an adult, I will educate my children on how to be more eco-friendly, but to do this, I will have to educate myself first.” – Darby, Kirkwall Grammar School

“My islands’ community looks after the environment by putting solar panels on new buildings, buying organic products and produce, using eco-friendly packaging in cafés and restaurants.” – Olivia, Kirkwall Grammar School

The young islanders’ stories are now available to view in an online gallery hosted by Youth Scotland. Youth Scotland are currently establishing the Young Islanders’ Network, which aims to help young people offer meaningful contributions to the delivery of the National Islands Plan, to benefit from training opportunities, and to access support to implement changes in their own communities.

The project has also produced an illustrated zine with artists Melanie Grandidge and Hannah Riordan, inspired by the young islanders’ stories of 2040. By the end of April, this will be distributed across the islands, providing information about the Carbon Neutral Islands project and how to access funding for climate-related initiatives on islands. In April, SCELG will release the Climate Change Message in a Bottle report, which outlines the children’s responses in more depth. It will be available here: www.strath.ac.uk/research/strathclydecentreenvironmentallawgovernance/ourwork/research/labsincubators/eilean/climatechangemessageinabottle/.

The project would like to thank Youth Scotland, Island Innovation, Scottish Islands Federation and the Scottish Government Islands team for their support.

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