Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere to lead new Climate Hub for Dumfries & Galloway
The Scottish Communities Climate Action Network and Dumfries and Galloway Council have announced that the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere has been awarded leadership of a new regional Climate Hub, that will bring support communities and community-based organisations in delivering action on climate change in D&G.
Operating across the whole of Dumfries and Galloway, the GSA Biosphere will coordinate and share best practice tools to support action in addressing the challenges of climate change. Taking a place-based approach that combines experience and innovation, the hub will focus on issues specific to communities in D&G. These will include climate impacts on food production, energy provision, transport, and the cost of living, and the local response to extreme weather events such as fire and flood. Climate Hubs have been successfully trialled in the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, with more planned across Scotland over the next two years.
The GSA Biosphere is founded on principles of partnership working which unites diverse stakeholders for common goals, from volunteer groups and community councils to UNESCO’s international network with its mission to build peace, eradicate poverty, and achieve Sustainable Development Goals. The Biosphere’s work is supported by core funding from South of Scotland Enterprise and three local authorities including Dumfries & Galloway Council, who supported the organisation’s Climate Hub bid. The Scottish Government’s award of £140,000 to fund the new Climate Hub is initially until March 2024, with in-principal support to extend this to at least March 2025. The establishment of the hub brings with it new jobs for D&G and the Biosphere will shortly begin recruitment for Climate Officers to deliver the hub’s programme, with job announcements expected within the next few weeks.
The announcement of the D&G Climate Hub was made during Scotland’s Climate Week (25th September – 1st October) during which the Scottish Government and other agencies try to raise awareness of Net Zero goals. Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to declare a climate emergency in 2019, and has a target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2045, five years earlier than the rest of the UK.
Commenting on the announcement of the D&G Climate Hub, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition, Mairi McAllan (pictured in 2022 at the launch of The State of The Biosphere Report) said: “Climate Action Hubs will put communities at the heart of net zero and I’m very pleased to see the Dumfries & Galloway Climate Action Hub joining our growing network. These hubs, which are being supported by the Scottish Government’s £4.3 million programme, will help coordinate local activity and increase public participation in climate action. Local communities have a crucial role to play in helping us to achieve our shared national climate change targets and I look forward to working with the Climate Action Hub and the many others that are being created across Scotland.”
Ed Forrest, Director of the GSA Biosphere, said, “We’re very excited for this opportunity in which the knowledge and skills our organisation has developed over more than a decade of work will be put to such important use. The fact that GSAB has been invited to step beyond its geographical boundary and lead the new Climate Hub reflects the Scottish Government and local authority’s confidence in our experience and expertise, and their faith in the UNESCO Biosphere model to deliver tangible outcomes for the people of Dumfries and Galloway.”
Jenna Cains, the GSA Biosphere’s Community & Education lead, said, “It’s increasingly well understood that now is the time to turn climate policy into implementation, and that this cannot be done without local people being part of the journey at every step. Through the new D&G Climate Hub communities across the region will have access to a suite of resources and supports that will equip them to take climate action from ideas to reality. It’s a hugely important boost for D&G.”