International development

Climate Justice Fund

The twin global climate and nature crises are the greatest threats facing humanity right now. The voices of those people impacted first and most severely by the climate crisis – particularly those in the Global South – are too infrequently heard. Scotland is endeavouring to embed the polluter pays principle throughout all of our work. This means that those most responsible for causing the climate crisis globally should bear both the largest and most immediate burden for financing and remediating its impacts worldwide. A climate justice approach sits at the centre of all of the action we are taking on this.

Climate justice is a people-centred, human rights-based approach that aims to share the benefits of equitable global development and ensure that the impacts of climate change do not disproportionately impact those who have done the least to contribute to it.  

Scotland was the first nation globally to commit funds specifically to climate justice, launching the Climate Justice Fund (CJF) in 2012, and we committed to trebling this fund to £36 million over the course of this Parliamentary term. We are committed to ensuring that this fund supports communities in partner developing countries to become more resilient to climate change and does so in a way that acknowledges and tackles embedded inequalities. 

Under the Climate Justice Fund, we launched a £24 million programme called Climate Just Communities. This was split across the three countries of Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia through three separate contracts equalling £8 million each over three years. This programme will deliver and develop a series of interventions to help build inclusive and climate resilient communities. It will use a participatory approach.

Scotland leads the way in recognising its obligation to help developing countries manage the loss and damage they are already suffering as a result of climate change. Loss and damage refers to impacts caused by anthropogenic climate change not averted or minimized through adaptation and mitigation activities.

Of the initial £2 million pledged at COP27 to tackle loss and damage, our Climate Justice Fund granted £1 million to the Climate Justice Resilience Fund to help some of the world’s most vulnerable communities prepare for and adapt to climate change, tackle structural inequalities and recover from climate induced loss and damage.

Independent evaluation of the Climate Justice Fund (2021)

In March 2021, we announced an independent evaluation of the Climate Justice Fund’s work up to 2021 in delivering climate justice objectives to inform how we would best support future initiatives. The evaluation drew on experiences of communities in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda who have implemented or are supported by the Fund. You can read a summary and the full report

Following the conclusion of the evaluation, we hosted a webinar where evaluators shared their findings and invited feedback from stakeholders.

Updated approach to climate justice

Following our independent evaluation and stakeholder feedback on the CJF, we set out an approach for action on climate justice.

We will prioritise targeting our funding to the people most vulnerable to climate change in the communities in which we work – particularly women and youth – and ensuring their participation is at the centre of our work. In response to direct asks from our partner countries, we are also sharing what we have learned from the CJF to help build capacity on both the technical aspects and participatory approaches to achieve climate justice. This is being achieved through delivering against three distinct pillars of climate justice identified through the evaluation:

  • distributive Justice relates to equal access to, and sharing of resources and benefits. In Climate Justice definitions, this includes both access to resources and benefits and equitable sharing of the costs of responding to climate change
  • procedural Justice relates to transparent, fair and equitable decision-making processes
  • transformative Justice relates to structural inequities and focuses on mainstreaming understanding of climate justice issues, as well as building capacity

This marks a departure from our previous approach, which largely focussed on distributive justice and will ensure that the Scottish Government now takes a strategic, scalable and replicable approach.

While the CJF programme is separate and additional to development funds, it is closely aligned with our International Development Fund work. The CJF has a similar focus on our international development partner countries and is also subject to our International Development Principles (March 2021), co-developed with partner countries and civil society in Scotland during our review of our approach to international development and solidarity in light of COVID-19. These principles apply to the International Development Fund programme in the first instance, but in line with the Scottish Government’s commitment to policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD), the principles were agreed by relevant Cabinet Secretaries with responsibility for areas such as Climate Change due to its key contribution to international development outcomes.

Explicit reference to climate change in the principles reinforces our commitment to climate justice. 

CJF history

In 2012, the Scottish Government launched the world's first government fund to address climate justice. 

From 2012 to 2016, the CJF's contribution to projects in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda has:

  • provided 110,000 people with training in climate change and water rights issues
  • established 217 village-level committees to support water resource management and resilience
  • improved agricultural practices and irrigation services for more than 11,000 people, which has helped to increase crop yield
  • planted more than 122,000 trees
  • provided sources of alternative income to more than 1,000 people in Malawi, including livestock-rearing, fish farming and honey production
  • together with £6 million from our Hydro Nation initiative, gave more than 70,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa access to safe drinking water

From 2017, the CJF was distributed via two programmes:

  • the Climate Challenge Programme Malawi (CCPM) 
  • the Climate Justice Innovation Fund (CJIF)  

These concluded in 2021. 

Other programmes that the Scottish Government have supported include Malawi Climate Leaders. This programme supported young leaders’ abilities to interpret and use climate information in decision-making and ensured that youth voices were heard in global discussions. Malawi Climate Leaders concluded in March 2022.

Alongside the CJF, the Scottish Government pursues its commitment to climate justice principles in the work of other international climate change projects. 

Women’s Environment and Development Organisation

Since 2017 Scottish Government has supported the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) to support capacity building and training for women from Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States to engage in UNFCCC talks and to integrate gender equality considerations into the outcomes.

At COP27, the Scottish Government supported four women delegates from Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic and Timor-Leste as part of WEDO’s Women’s Development Fund programme. Delegates took part in capacity strengthening ahead of the negotiations to develop skills as well as a mentoring programme.

The funding also assists grassroots and indigenous women leaders to invest in and scale up climate solutions in global south countries, complementing our climate justice approach to share the benefits of equitable global development and ensure that the impacts of climate change do not disproportionately impact those who have done the least to contribute to it. 

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