International development

Climate Justice Fund

Climate change and nature loss are the greatest long term threats facing people and our planet. Those who are being affected first and worst by climate change have often done little or nothing to cause the problem. Moreover, the voices of those communities – including in the Global South – are too infrequently heard. 

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 are committed to ensuring that this fund not only supports communities in partner developing countries to become more resilient to climate change but does so in way that acknowledges and tackles embedded inequalities. 

At COP26 we announced the trebling of our financial support for the world’s poorest and more vulnerable communities in their efforts to tackle the impacts of climate change. The Climate Justice Fund will increase from 2022, providing £36 million across this Parliament.

Scotland led 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; the First Minister announced a partnership with the Climate Justice Resilience Fund on delivering this work. Loss and damage refers to impacts caused by anthropogenic climate change not averted or minimized through adaptation and mitigation activities.

Following an independent evaluation in 2021 of the CJF’s work, new projects will launch in 2022. 

Independent evaluation of the Climate Justice Fund (2021)

In March 2021, we announced an independent evaluation of the Climate Justice Fund’s work to date in delivering climate justice objectives to inform how we best support initiatives beyond 2021. 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, the Scottish Government hosted a webinar where evaluators shared their findings and invited feedback from stakeholders. The webinar was introduced by Minister for Environment and Land Reform Mairi McAllan. 

Updated approach to climate justice

Following our independent evaluation and stakeholder feedback on the Climate Justice Fund, the Scottish Government has set a future 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 will also share learning from the Climate Justice Fund to help build capacity on both the technical aspects and participatory approaches to achieve climate justice. This will be 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 the previous approach, which largely focussed on distributive justice and will ensure that the Scottish Government takes a strategic, scalable and replicable approach.

Initial projects under the revised programmatic approach will launch from 2022.

The Climate Justice Fund programme is closely aligned with our International Development Fund work. There is a similar focus on our international development partner countries and it is similarly 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. 

Climate Justice Fund history

We launched the CJF in 2012 with £12 million over five years, in addition to our annual £10 million International Development Fund. 

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 new programmes:

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

Alongside the Climate Justice Fund, the Scottish Government pursues its commitment to climate justice principles in the work of other international climate change projects. Examples of these include the following:

Malawi Climate Leaders

Around the world young people have been instrumental in bringing the issue of climate change and ecological decline to the fore of public consciousness. In recognition of this The First Minister announced at the Austrian World Summit in 2021 a further £190,000 funding for the Malawi Climate Leaders Programme to amplify youth voices in Malawi in the run up to and during COP26. 

The programme supports young leaders’ abilities to interpret and use climate information in decision-making and ensure that youth voices are heard in global discussions, including through the establishment of a COP Hub in Lilongwe, Malawi, allowing Malawian youth and community leaders to participate in events at COP26.

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.

Scotland’s previous contributions supported delegates from Bhutan, Mozambique, Djibouti, Bangladesh and Malawi to attend and influence climate conferences. 

We were proud to announce on International Women’s Day 2021 £150,000 to support WEDO to ensure that women from the global south could safely and successfully negotiate the additional challenges in seeking a voice at COP26. 

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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