MAJI –a personal reflection from an International Knowledge and Learning Exchange in Malawi

Philip Revell, Chair of the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN), travelled to Malawi in March 2016 as part of an international knowledge and learning exchange. Philip learnt first hand about the climate change impacts affecting communities in Malawi. He shares his experiences below and reflects on common challenges and opportunities for SCCAN members to learn from and share experiences with communities and Malawi.

In common with the rest of southern Africa, Malawi is already facing a significant impact from climate change. Devastating floods in January 2015 affected over 1.1 million people, 7% of the population. 280 people lost their lives and 230,000 were displaced, many permanently. Coping with a disaster on this scale was a major challenge for a country with so few resources and such limited infrastructure.

MAJI, a Bantu word for water, is a Scottish Government climate justice funded project being delivered by VSO Malawi along with a range of local partners and support from James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. The aim of the project is to enhance the resilience of some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities through a more integrated approach to planning future water resource management and direct practical support to ‘Village Natural Resource Management Committees’.

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Miriam Dunn, University of Edinburgh and IMPRESSIONS Scottish case study leader, gives an update on the recent IMPRESSIONS workshop, held at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation in autumn.


The IMPRESSIONS (IMPacts and Risks from high-End Scenarios – Strategies for InnOvative solutioNS) project aims to increase our understanding of the consequences of high-end climate change, and in so doing to support adaptation strategies of stakeholders. It is a major EU-funded project that includes Scotland as a case study. It will build upon the scenarios developed by the CLIMSAVE project, but this time focus on decision-makers’ strategies for dealing with the impacts of high-end (>2°C) climate change in Scotland. The project brings together researchers as well as stakeholders from both policy and practice and from varied sectors across Scotland.

Stakeholders are an integral part of the IMPRESSIONS (IMPacts and Risks from high-End Scenarios– Strategies for InnOvative solutioNS) project and continue to contribute positively to the project.

Workshop 1

The purpose of the first workshop was to link the CLIMSAVE Scottish scenarios to the new IPCC AR5 Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSP) approach and to explore the implications of high-end climate change for Scotland.

On the 22nd September, 17 stakeholders from a wide range of organisations with an interest in land resource management in Scotland participated in a one day workshop with researchers as part of IMPRESSIONS. The workshop was a great success and provided an opportunity for stakeholders and researchers to co-create knowledge. In the lead up to the workshop, 20 stakeholders from organisations within land resource management sectors across Scotland, including but not limited to forestry, agriculture and tourism, participated in in-depth interviews. The interviews formed the basis of a user needs assessment (a foundation of the project). They focused on the individual, behavioural and institutional conditions, and the decision-making processes that underpin adaptation within these organisations, particularly adaptation to high-end (more than 2°C) climate change.

The day featured facilitated breakout sessions during which stakeholders reviewed and further developed plausible socio-economic storylines of what the future might look like for Scotland. This involved linking the CLIMSAVE Scottish scenarios to the new IPCC AR5 Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSP) approach and exploring the implications of high-end climate change for Scotland. Stakeholders also contributed their visions for Scotland in the year 2100 – that is, what they would, in an ideal world, like the country to be like by that point. A diverse range of viewpoints were represented, resulting in discussions that were lively but that more often than not reached consensus!

Video credit: Archie Crofton

Next Steps

The outcomes of the workshop are being used to feed back into the project over the next 2 years to identify adaptation and mitigation pathways (and policies) to address climate change impacts; to develop action plans and empowering narratives; and most importantly, to support adaptation strategies of stakeholders within the land resource management sectors in Scotland. A key goal is to create better contextualised and more usable information about adapting to climate change. If you are interested in being involved in one of the two future workshops, please feel free to get in touch.

Further information about the project can be accessed on the website ( or by contacting Miriam Dunn (

Resilience pioneers – insights from Glasgow

Frankie Barrett, Sustainability Officer at Glasgow City Council, shares his reflections on Glasgow’s pioneering work to address long-term resilience challenges . 

The history of Glasgow presents an extraordinary story of a city that has remained resilient through over 250 years of successive shocks and stresses that have produced massive disparities in income, health and opportunity.

With an ambition to be one of the most sustainable cities in Europe, we are recovering steadily from a post-industrial legacy of social, economic and environmental shock. By drawing on cultural assets, investing in major regeneration programmes and diversifying the business sector, the city has done much to remedy its symptoms as Buchanan Street, Glasgowthe “sick man of Europe”.

But the journey is not over and our resilience continues to be tested by shifting macroeconomic trends, poverty and deprivation, and health inequalities. We have no choice but to continuously develop our ability to function in the face of challenging situations and recover from disasters.

It is in this light that Glasgow joined the 100 Resilient Cities Network, an initiative pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. The 100 Resilient Cities Network has provided us with a unique opportunity to reflect on our capacity for managing the known and unknown shocks and stresses that are a growing part of city life. Amongst the most urgent challenges are climate change threats and the need to safeguard the city against long-term climate risks Continue reading

Climate Ready Homes: Preparing for the Future

I was invited to speak at the Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) Property Repairs and Asset Management Conference on 7 October 2014; and also contributed a feature article to the October issue of their magazine Housing Scotland – which I will reproduce below. It is great to see the social housing sector taking an interest in climate adaptation, alongside the many other challenges they are addressing – for example I shared a plenary session with Morton Duedahl who described how Denmark had setup their district heating network. 


Housing Scotland (Issue No. 105) 

Climate change is happening. The evidence is clear. It is a global problem, but the impact will be felt locally, here in Scotland. In our homes.

The impacts could be serious, exposing homes and their occupants to greater risks, unless action is taken. Although the challenge is significant, with some forethought, it should be possible to prepare our housing stock over the coming decades through ongoing maintenance, responsive repairs and refurbishment programmes. Continue reading

Adaptation Scotland…a student’s perspective

Our latest blog has been written by Elspeth Dundas who spent time working with Sniffer during the summer. Our thanks to Elspeth for her enthusiasm and interest in the work of Sniffer, in particular the Adaptation Scotland Programme. All the best for your final year of studies, Elspeth…we’re looking forward to some new adaptation research!

During the summer break from my studies at the University of Edinburgh I was fortunate enough to spend time with the Adaptation Scotland team, allowing me to understand the initiative’s role in preparing Scotland for the effects of climate change. As well as talking to each member of staff and learning about their individual roles and experiences, I was also included in several aspects of the ongoing work. Attending the first Adaptation Learning Exchange (ALE) workshop opened my eyes to the problems that are encountered by people trying to implement climate adaptation measures in the working environment. I found this particularly interesting as in a university setting the effects of climate change are treated as a considerable threat and are rarely disputed, whereas in a business setting the long-term nature of the effects of climate change makes the issue much easier to overlook. Continue reading

Maintaining and adapting Scotland’s trunk roads

Graham Edmond is Head of Network Maintenance for Transport Scotland and is leading efforts to ensure that Scotland’s trunk roads are maintained and adapted to the impacts of climate change. He shares his views on the challenge of adapting to climate change.

I am responsible for the maintenance of Scotland’s 3,600 km strategic trunk road and motorway network.  Long term thinking is necessary as good maintenance is all about maximising the life of a vital asset to the economy and protecting the considerable investment we are making in new and improved roads.  A well maintained road can be a wonderful way to view our outstanding scenery but my job is not without its challenges.

Of all of the challenges we face, climate change is perhaps the most important.  We have set challenging targets for carbon reduction but these must be equally balanced by those for adaptation.  Transport Scotland leads the transport sectors adaptation work for the Scottish Government and as well as my maintenance role I am also managing this adaptation work for the Agency. Road transport in particular is critical to the functioning of the economy, even more so in parts of Scotland where isolated rural communities face lengthy and costly diversions when road links are cut by flooding, landslides or fallen trees.  Predictions suggest a stormier and wetter climate in the future and the A83 at the Rest and be Thankful in Argyll, which has been the focus of Transport Scotland’s efforts in the last few years, has certainly provided regular reminders of this! Continue reading

Swedes on study trip

Adaptation Scotland and Climate North East kindly gave a group of swedes a few very useful and nice days on business climate adaptation. We were eight people from companies and municipalities, eager to learn from the experiences in the UK. You definitely have more experience than us! Probably because you already have had more severe weather events than we have.

We run a project in Sweden called A changing climate for business. The project is developing a method to help companies to be resilient in a changing climate. It will take into account direct and indirect, positive and negative economical consequences of climate change for business in Sweden. The method is applied on specific companies connected to forestry and food production in the region of Scania. Continue reading