What is the appropriate size of the regional hubs and the role that you think they can most effectively play?
Respondents to the ‘Request for Information’ identified a number of various sizes that they felt would be appropriate for the hubs as well as the most effective means of identifying the number of hubs and locations across Scotland where hubs would be most impactful.
1) Identifying a ‘region’
There were four different ways that respondents felt the hubs should be organised across Scotland. The most agreed upon blueprint for the hubs was to have an average of six to ten hubs based in Scotland’s seven cities with an additional two to three hubs specifically dedicated to the Islands (Inner Hebrides, Outer Hebrides, and Orkney and Shetland). Most respondents felt that centring hubs in these cities would most effectively cover all regions of Scotland while allowing collaboration between urban and rural communities. The respondents who supported this blueprint felt that regions should be identified based primarily on geographical linkage, larger than simple local authority areas, so that hubs represent communities that have shared experiences with climate change and thus can share knowledge, link projects, and support each other.
“It’s important that hubs are not too large and that they connect cities with the surrounding rural area. They need to be geographically linked.”
“The regional hubs should bring together similar geographical areas, reflecting the different climate challenges of rural and urban areas, coastal and island communities, mountainous areas and lowland and peatlands.”
The second most suggested blueprint for the size and organisation of the hubs was quite the opposite, with respondents suggesting that there should be as many as 32 hubs located within local authorities or within one-hour from the communities that they serve. Some also specified that there should be more hubs in rural areas versus urban areas, where communities generally already have access to more climate action support and resources. Rather than identifying regions through the lens of geographical location, this method seeks to use local, ordinary, and natural boundaries to distinguish the areas that hubs support.
“A regional hub would be most effective at local authority scale. This is small enough to recognise the needs and priorities of the community, allow action to be tailored and localised, and give the community a sense of ownership, while large enough to allow shared learning, have a meaningful voice and significant impact.”
Respondents who supported this blueprint for the hubs felt that the proposed 5-7 hubs structure would be far too few for the large-scale task of supporting climate action across Scotland. Respondents also highlighted that differing socio-economic factors, carbon intensive activity in specific communities, varying population density, and unique impacts from climate change in specific communities would mean that larger regional hubs would have less impact because they would group these distinctive communities together with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
“The size and role of any regional hub in our belief should not be a one size fits all approach, as the capacity of any hub to deliver against any agreed targets will be determined by many factors…”
The third and fourth suggested options were supported by significantly fewer groups with only a small number of organisations recommending them. The third option was to have a flexible system for identifying regions and hub-size, looking at each hub on an individual basis based on unique area-specific factors like what climate action activity is already happening in the area (how much support the area needs with implementing future action), the types of projects that would have the most impact in the area (energy generation projects versus smaller-scale adaptation projects), area population, and area-specific climate challenges. The few groups who recommended this approach did not detail the number of hubs or regions that would apply for this blueprint.
The last option, suggested by only a couple respondents, was to centralise support online through the creation of virtual hubs. These online hubs would be more accessible to communities across Scotland, especially rural, Highland, and Island communities, and allow for easier collaboration and centralisation of information, support, and resources.
“Physical hubs are limiting. An online network of communication applications, using sustainable servers and ethical software should be developed instead… [to] encompass area networks at local, regional and national level.”
2) Learn, support, collaborate, act
The respondents’ recommendations for the roles of the hubs was similar to their considerations of the type of support hubs can offer (see question one). Respondents widely agreed on a number of core roles that would enable hubs to support climate action effectively across Scotland and act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for all things community climate action. These roles were to:
- provide relevant and tailored advice to groups on projects and funding opportunities,
- provide optional learning opportunities and training sessions to groups or individuals on relevant topics of such as sustainability, climate change, carbon literacy, and the environment,
- support local groups and create a strong network of community climate action in each local area,
- help groups connect with each other to network, share learnings and experience, and facilitate collaboration,
- monitor and evaluate community climate action and identify where action could be improved.
“The Hubs could provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ service for communities by linking them to funding opportunities, advice and support from expert staff, training opportunities, webinars, workshops etc. They could also provide links to successful projects by similar communities to help the learning process and follow the examples that led to a successful project.”
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