Scottish Government releases Climate Justice Fund Review

11 January 2022

On the 21st December the Scottish Government published the final report of its Climate Justice Fund (CJF) independent evaluation, conducted by LTS International Limited, part of the NIRAS Group (NIRAS-LTS). This page gives information about the CJF, our summary of some of the key findings from the review, as well as all the SMP’s reflections from this.

About the Climate Justice Fund:

The Scottish Government launched its Climate Justice Fund (CJF) in 2012 to help tackle the effects of climate change in the poorest, most vulnerable countries. Since then, the Fund has increased in size and scope, supporting more people in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda to build resilient and equitable communities.

In March 2021, Scottish Government announced an independent evaluation of the CJF’s work to date, drawing on the experiences of those who have implemented or directly supported by the Fund.

In September 2021, the Scottish Government announced the doubling of its financial support for the world’s poorest and more vulnerable communities in their efforts to tackle the impacts of climate change. Starting next year, the Climate Justice Fund will increase to £6 million per year, providing £24 million across this Parliament. 

Learn more about the Climate Justice Fund.

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Key findings from the review:

The review finds that a climate justice approach is highly relevant in the partner countries of Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia because it allows sustainable development, not only through direct funding support for climate change adaptation projects but also through strengthening local capacities to respond to climate change and advocate for their own needs.

The review proposes the below definition of climate justice and retrospectively assesses the success of projects against this definition:

‘Climate justice is a people-centred, human rights-based approach that aims to share the benefits of equitable global development and the burdens of climate change fairly, while building trust between developed and developing countries. Climate justice recognises that the poor and vulnerable are the first to be affected by climate change, exacerbating existing inequalities, and will suffer the most, despite having done little or nothing to cause the problem.’

The review identifies three pillars of climate justice and concludes that the most successful projects have looked to deliver on all three:

Procedural Justice:
Engaging with both external stakeholders (such as national and district government) and local stakeholders (including women and the vulnerable) as part of a participatory and needs-based approach to identifying who to target and ensuring locally appropriate solutions;

Distributive Justice:
Ensuring support for climate change resilience (such as, livelihood development, access to water and energy etc.) is built into all projects (especially for innovation and mitigation focused projects) to ensure participants benefit from project activities;

Transformative Justice: Active participation in finding solutions and advocating for their needs, empowering communities and ensuring sustainability of results.

The review finds that the CJF has been effective at delivering on its climate justice objectives, particularly in terms of mainstreaming climate justice within the Scottish Government and building knowledge and experience around climate justice through the CJF-supported projects.

The review makes the below five recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1. It is recommended that CJF develops a set of project selection and monitoring criteria that ensure projects incorporate all aspects of climate justice (including procedural and transformative) in their design and implementation.
  • Recommendation 2. It is recommended that CJF facilitates the sharing of lessons and learning from across its portfolio to support a community of practice that improves climate justice impacts both from across its portfolio and beyond.
  • Recommendation 3. It is recommended that the CJF invests in larger programmes and/or supports smaller projects to provide clusters of interventions to communities.
  • Recommendation 4. It is recommended that the CJF builds upon the flexibility of its approach that supports participatory processes in project design and implementation and complements these with more flexible project design and reporting cycles.
  • Recommendation 5. It is recommended that Scottish Government leverages CJF learnings to support the integration of climate justice by other donors and programmes.
Climate Justice Fund Review report
SMP Reflections:

The SMP congratulates the Scottish Government on its far-sighted, long-term commitment to climate justice. Many of the projects funded in the CJF have taken place in Malawi, delivered by SMP members and their partners in Malawi. We have seen first-hand the positive results and material human impact of such work. More than this though, these funds send a powerful message: that Scotland recognises the fundamental injustice in the climate crisis and is keen to use its voice to champion an equitable and just approach to fighting the crisis.

The SMP is grateful for the opportunity to have fed into both the Scottish Government’s review and the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into this. We chose to give our place in giving evidence to Parliament to an expert partner in Malawi, to ensure Malawian, and not just Scottish, voices were heard in this process.

We applaud the Scottish Government’s commitment to increasing its Climate Justice Fund and we welcome, and strongly back, many of this review’s recommendations. We specifically welcome the call for greater sharing of information and learning between funded projects, the call for greater flexibility in project design and reporting cycles, and the call to influence other donors. We encourage the Scottish Government to continue a transparent and engaging approach as it looks to significantly increase its CJF in the coming years. We think the Scottish Government will see greatest impact in this area if it harnesses the power of the wider civic links in our bilateral friendship with Malawi, unleashing a multiplier effect through civic activism in both Malawi and Scotland.

During COP26, the President of Malawi (and ex officio SMP Hon Co-Patron) powerfully addressed the SMP and our members, talking about the impact of climate change in Malawi and the need to use the powerful civic links between our two nations to champion climate justice.

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