Malawi Climate Justice initiative launched with 20:20 Vision, will see Scotland light up Malawi


Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, an organisation set up in 2009 in response to the Scottish Government’s climate change targets, has launched an awareness and fundraising campaign today, (Wednesday,28 May), with £200,000 of Scottish Government funding in support of Climate Justice.

Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group (the Group) has brought together Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) and SolarAid, a team which will act as project partners and help deliver “Scotland Lights up Malawi”. The ultimate goal and vision of this project is to contribute to the eradication of kerosene lamps, batteries and candles in Malawi by 2020.

The campaign

Malawi familyThe campaign will last for 20 months and 20 days and will seek to raise £2020k from all aspects of Scottish society including, the public sector, private businesses and individuals. It aims to increase awareness and understanding in Scotland of the issue of climate justice and achieve the following key objectives:

  • Make a real difference to carbon emissions and poverty levels in some of the world’s most deprived areas – that is climate justice
  • Understand what works and what doesn’t so that other projects are more successful – that is better climate justice
  • Increase awareness of climate change and the link to poverty around the world here in Scotland – that is better awareness of climate justice

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The Scottish Government recognises that around the world, those experiencing the greatest impacts of climate change have done the least to contribute to the problem. That is why we have already set out the most ambitious global targets to cut emissions, and are recognised internationally for championing climate justice, putting people and human rights at the heart of Scotland’s action on climate change and supporting fair and sustainable development.  

“The ‘Scotland lights up Malawi’ initiative will deliver real benefits to families and communities there and I am delighted to confirm this £200,000 in support of the partnership delivering this important work.”

Ian Marchant, chair of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group added: “Scotland has a rich heritage in both energy and technology and it is time we put these advantages to work for those who will be most affected by Climate Change. Solar light, as a proven technology, has the power to be a disruptive force for good in countries like Malawi and the 2020 Climate Group is delighted to lead this partnership initiative with SolarAid, GCU, KSB and the Scottish Government. “

SolarAid managing director, Andrew Webb, explains that solar is more than an environmental solution for the 91% of rural households living without electricity in Malawi, it can also help families break a cycle of poverty: “With a solar light families tell us that their children study for longer, the whole family is healthier and money previously spent on kerosene, batteries and candles is diverted to school costs, food and in support of their livelihoods. And, by selling solar lights through our social enterprise, SunnyMoney, we are taking a business-based approach to tackling climate change and poverty that will build a sustainable market for renewable energy solutions across the whole country. That means we can scale up quickly and we can eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by the end of the decade.”

The research

Studying by solar (credit: Jerry Barnett)GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice will conduct research on how solar lights, as a form of clean energy, have helped improve the lives and livelihoods of people and communities in Malawi. Community and environmental benefits will be examined alongside future challenges in getting more communities to use solar lights. Reaching the poorest and most vulnerable in the country will be key for researchers, who will work closely with Solar Aid in addressing issues of equity, human rights and access to solar lights.

Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director of GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice, said:“The Centre brings together a dedicated and highly knowledgeable team of researchers and academics with a wide range of specialisms within the field. We are taking a lead in research, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people most vulnerable to the effects and impacts of climate change.”

Young learners

The education component of the project will be led by Keep Scotland Beautiful which delivers the internationally renowned Eco Schools Programme in Scotland. The project will work with 20 schools’ clusters (a secondary school and its associated primary schools), involving between 160 and 200 of Scotland’s schools in total. This will be geographically sensitive and cover the whole country. It will provide opportunities for young learners to develop relationships across cultures, to understand the international dimensions of climate justice and sustainable development and to hone their critical, creative and compassionate communication skills.

Chief Executive of KSB, Derek Robertson, said: “Keep Scotland Beautiful is delighted to be involved with such an exciting and important project. We are certain that Eco Schools across the country will be very keen to engage and learn about climate justice and its impacts. Hopefully this will complement the many other important projects linking Scotland and Malawi .”


There will be a particular focus on evidencing the impact and learning associated with the increase of solar lights in Malawi. It will also exemplify how the 2020 Group is working with the Scottish Government to lead the way on climate justice and provide a strong direction for the awareness campaign in Scotland. The commitment by the Group to have a specific objective related to Climate Justice came as a consequence of a conference held in Edinburgh last year addressed by Mary Robinson of the Mary Robinson Foundation and First Minister, Alex Salmond.   Government also sees the need to address climate change through a human rights perspective and build momentum on climate justice across our Scottish communities, industry and education sector.

Mechanics of managing/distributing funds

KSB, a registered charity, will host the campaign. Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group is responsible for fundraising and nominating the majority of the fund ‘Ambassadors’ who will direct the use of funds and oversee delivery of the projects.


The delivery of the campaign has been designed to start to achieve the three objectives of the overall campaign by:

  1. Delivering nearly 100,000 solar lights to the most disadvantaged communities in Malawi through Sunny Money social enterprise as well as reactivating the Malawian Renewable Energy Association.
  2. Measuring the impact of this approach on climate change and poverty using a climate justice framework.
  3. Educating Scottish society on the related issues of climate change and poverty through the development of educational material, which is then piloted in a sample of schools, building on the Eco schools programme.
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