Co-benefits of climate mitigation and community empowerment

Climate Action Towns project team speaking to children in an outdoor space during their visit to Holytown.
Published: 20/03/2023

(March 2023) Architecture and Design Scotland’s Climate Action Towns project team, shared their story of how the co-benefits of climate action can impact health and wellbeing, community wealth, and reduce child poverty at the first Place Forum.

In 2021, we launched the Climate Action Towns three-year initiative with funding from the Scottish Government. This builds on the 'Eight principles of a carbon conscious place' from our work on 'Designing for a changing climate'.

Climate Action Towns takes a data-driven approach to help nine towns become more resilient in the face of the climate emergency. Our work now involves understanding the potential co-benefits of climate mitigation and poverty reduction.

Community engagement and capacity

It was immediately apparent that each town has its own identity and context, with diverse cultures and attributes. This was challenging in terms of engagement, as every town required a bespoke approach. To overcome these challenges we adopted and adapted several tools to help with community engagement.

In some towns, community groups were well-developed but in others, this wasn’t necessarily the case.

Campbeltown, Argyll, is a good example of a town with active community groups. It is a seaside town already experiencing the effects of climate change, with a community that has legitimate concerns about sea levels rising. A positive aspect of this was their willingness to engage in climate mitigation strategies and adopt them into their community action plan.

Building community capacity to act on the climate emergency is also affected by other immediate issues. We saw the challenges brought forward by Covid-19 in the first year of the project and now the impacts of cost of living.

Exploring assets and attributes across each town

We like to explore the positive attributes of a town. This could be reusing an old building as a community centre/food larder or warm hub. Others could be using vacant spaces as community allotments and growing food locally to supply food larders with fresh food.

Some towns have great natural spaces such as Drongan in East Ayrshire with Hannahston Community Woodland, a place that was commended in Scotland’s Finest Woodlands award.

Women working together at a climate action towns workshop in Blackburn,
A group of people working together during a Climate Action Towns mapping exercise in Blackburn.

Empowering communities to lead on climate action

We encourage communities to look at their town’s assets through the lens of the eight principles of a carbon conscious place. Doing this will encourage people to push their boundaries knowing that they can make a difference in their place and at the same time tackle the climate emergency and build a resilient community.

We are also bringing the towns together to network and share ideas and resources at our ‘The Gathering’ events. While these events are new, we are encouraged by the towns desire to meet and learn from each other.

When tackling the climate emergency, it’s important that people lead the change.

The power of place in child poverty and cost of living crisis

Find out more about our first Place Forum event and hear about the power of place and collaboration in child poverty and cost of living crisis.

Read event outputs