BLOG: Collaborating to tackle the Climate Emergency in Edinburgh

The devastating impact of climate change is already being felt across the planet, any hope of tackling these challenges is wholly reliant on collaboration. Individuals, governments and businesses must work together if we’re to have any hope of averting this crisis and if we’re to succeed social enterprises will play a key role.

COP’26 or the United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Glasgow from the 1st to the 12th of November with more than 190 world leaders along with thousands of negotiators, government representatives, business leaders and citizens coming together to talk about what they can do tackle the climate crisis and meet the targets set out in the 2021 Paris Agreement. One of the four main goals of the conference is to foster collaboration and find ways that all parts of society can work together.

Collaborative working is second-nature to many social enterprises especially those that are members of a Social Enterprise Network, whether it’s as part of a supply chain, working together on a shared project or just sharing knowledge and experience, and it’s this spirit that we’ve tried to harness at Edinburgh Social Enterprise (ESE) through developing our own programme of events relating to COP26. Whilst the conference is taking place in Glasgow, we will be running a Climate Action Social Enterprise Fringe in Edinburgh showing how local actions can provide the inspiration for global solutions.

ESE members made their voices heard by telling us what aspects of the climate challenge were most important and relevant to them and through their knowledge and input we were able to seek out social enterprises in Edinburgh to partner with on a variety of talks and events that fit within the themes of the conference. Over the twelve days we will have people from the Bike Station, Edinburgh Festival of Cycling and the Cargo Bike Movement discussing transport in Edinburgh and the role bikes can play, the Edinburgh Remakery and guests looking at how the Circular Economy can help shape the future and the likes of the Space & Broomhouse Hub in collaboration with South West Edible Estates and You Can Cook, You Can Grow producing content looking at the journey of our food from the field to the fork. That’s not even mentioning sessions on the supply chain, in-person visits to some of our environmentally conscious members and our ‘Buy The Good Stuff’ Launch Market on Tuesday 2nd November at the Cornerstone Centre St John’s.  

We also learnt from members that a purely physical conference wouldn’t work for everyone in a post-pandemic world. We hope to stream all our in-person talks and we will supplement all our physical activities with a series of short films made by us and by sharing videos produced by our members. This is a topic that impacts every single life on this planet, so everyone needs a chance to hear what’s being said and make their own contribution to the discussion.

Currently there are 24 Social Enterprises taking part but it’s not just our members who are contributing. In partnership with Edinburgh City Council and Business Gateway we will host a workshop filled with practical advice on procurement, community benefit clauses and how to work with different levels of government. We’ve also reached out to The Peoples’ Pension and other pension advice charities to help run a session on how to find the pension plan that fits most closely with your organisation’s values. One of the main things collaborating with our members shows us is how valuable their time is so we’ve made a real effort to ensure every single event has practical ideas for businesses.

We’re under no illusions, facing the climate challenge will require a level of collaboration never before seen in human history. What we’re aiming to do is follow our members’ lead and show that working together toward a shared goal on a smaller local level can lead to positive change.

If you’d like to do your part either by contributing to an event or if you have your own event that you’d like to cross promote please contact us via steve_l@edinburghsocialenterprise.co.uk.