Message in a Bottle project helped youngsters address climate change

The winning artwork of Emily, who attends Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney.

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Young islanders from Arran and across Scotland have been urged to think creatively about their carbon neutral island futures.

The Climate Change Message in a Bottle project, organised by the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG) has seen primary and secondary school pupils across the islands producing artwork and stories to represent their hopes for a sustainable, climate-friendly future on their islands.

The project, previously highlighted in the Banner, is funded by the Scottish government which, 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 14 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.

On Arran, pupils from Whiting Bay Primary School and Arran High School participated and their demands for climate change were submitted to the COP26 conference in Glasgow last year.

Here are some examples of their visions for the year 2040:

‘Our island is totally eco-friendly and this started over 20 years ago with Eco Savvy and Arran Community Land Initiative. I remember when I was a little girl we went on a school trip to the community land initiative where we planted trees, we made bread on a fire as well as soup. After that we planted potatoes and a load of other fruit and vegetables.’ – Izzy and Toren, Whiting Bay Primary School

‘As a community we look after our island’s environment by cycling more, community litter picks and a hub which uses tidal power to send to islanders.’ – Lucas and Aiden, Whiting Bay Primary School

‘We will have wind turbines on the hills on the south of the island and offshore wind turbines to generate power from the south west prevailing winds.’ – Annie and Imogen, Arran High School

‘Our food comes from local farms, which is freshly produced with no added chemicals. Our meat comes from local butchers and farmers from around the island.’ – Julieta, Whiting Bay Primary School

The young islanders’ stories are now available to view in an online gallery hosted by Youth Scotland.

Youth Scotland is 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:

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

 Bethany Walsh

Iona Hamadi and Sam Goronwy of Whiting Bay primary show their climate change demands which were presented to the COP26 conference in Glasgow.