Social innovation and climate justice

As the University for the Common Good and a leading widening-access higher education institution, Glasgow Caledonian University seeks to enhance resilience and adaptability to change in local and international communities. The first university to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals as the framework for its research strategy, GCU seeks to transform communities across the globe.

Here, we bring together world-renowned thought-leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus with the younger generation to address the issue of combatting climate change and injustice through social innovation.

The agenda will be driven by those who will face the climate emergency head-on over the coming decades. Our chair is the renowned broadcaster Sally Magnusson.

Professor Yunus will be joined by a leading professor and expert on sustainable fashion, two early career researchers from GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice and Yunus Centre who, together, are investigating the role of microfinance and climate change adaptation in Rwanda.

Students from our Glasgow campus, as well as GCU London and Glasgow Caledonian New York College, will drive the event. This group will, in the form of a short movie presented in three parts, pose questions to our panel; their voices being crucial in framing the debate. They are well-equipped, better-educated than any generation in history, are highly diverse and globally connected. They will experience the consequences of industrialisation and need to be the engine of change.

Key speakers/panellists:

  • Sally Magnusson, Scottish broadcaster and writer (Chair)
  • Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate and Emeritus Chancellor Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Prof Pamela Gillies CBE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Dr Olga Biosca, Yunus Centre for Social Business & Health, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Dr Michael Mikulewicz, Centre for Climate Justice, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Professor Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas, British School of Fashion, GCU London


The Welfare of the Earth is our Welfare

Climate protection is the litmus test for sustainability in the 21st century and faith leaders in Africa and across the world. Faith leaders will not remain silent as people continue to suffer from the effects of climate change. Faith leaders and faith communities are pushing for higher ambition and commitments for touchable action to confront the threat posed. The faith communities are as much affected, and its followers suffer as much from the effects of rising temperatures, excessive droughts, changing weather patterns, conflicts arising from competition for resources such as grazing lands etc, cyclones and excessive flooding.

In communities and at the policy level, faith leaders are among those at the forefront to work on adaption and resilience but also calling for attention to the implementation of the Paris agreement in a way that runs deep – and now. For COP 26 and beyond AACC continues to mobilise faith leaders in Africa to push for high ambition and implementation now. In this vein, the AACC is hosting this event to which faith leaders will present their voices on the situation in Africa, including some of the step’s faith communities, have taken to tackle climate change from an adaption and resilience perspective. These stories/perspectives are expected to be shared from the five regions of Africa. The event will also highlight key asks from the AACC / Faith Communities in Africa.


Human Rights and Climate Impacts in Latin America

Participatory dialogue on the rights of vulnerable communities in Latin America due to climate change impacts. This space will short interventions from adaptation and loss and damage experts and grassroots advocates from Latin America.


Maria Alejandra Aguilar, Climate Justice Coordinator, Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad.

Javier Dávalos Gonzalez, Coordinator of the Climate Change Program, Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA).

Adrián Martínez Blanco, Director, La Ruta del Clima.

Victor Manuel Campos Cubas, Director, Centro Humboldt.

Ingrid Hausinger, Program Coordinator, Heinrich Böll Foundation – El Salvador. (TBC)

Tania Guillen, Researcher, GERICS.


“Into the Amazon” (Musical production)

Founder and trustee of the charitable trust “Indigenous People’s Cultural Support Trust” and internationally acclaimed virtuoso cellist and composer, Emily Burridge will perform her solo cello composition “Into the Amazon”.

With her extraordinary ability to incorporate looping technology whilst performing, she recreates her multi tracked compositions and accompanies her field recordings of the natural environment and traditional singing of the Xavante tribe of the Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Through the vehicle of this concert she aims to inspire both young and old alike as she transmits to the audience an experience of a day from dawn to dusk in an Indian village in the Amazon. Hailed as a spell binding performance. (“Into the Amazon” is twenty- five minutes long)

“Sisters in the Forest” is a new work and single release originally composed in response to the current plight of uncontacted tribes in the Amazon forest, Brazil. This composition is accompanied by stunning visual projections of tribal “sisters” by photographer Sue Cunningham and co-creator of the award winning book “Spirit of the Amazon” by Sue and Patrick Cunningham.

Reviews: In 2019 a reviewer wrote ‘Emily Burridge lifts the subtle art of cello to new dimensions with her inspirational, moody, soulful and joyous musicianship. This is cello to lift the spirit, harmonise with the emotions and take you on a journey’

Tribes Alive charitable trust

Emily Burridge website

“Into the Amazon” production on Emily’s website

“Into the Amazon” on Apple Music

“Into the Amazon” on Spotify


The Future of Wildlife Filmmaking – Beyond the Frame

In this session the filmmakers behind some of the most loved nature documentaries on the planet come together to discuss what role wildlife films could, and should, play to help create a safe and just future for the living world.

COP26 is an opportunity to have some brave conversations. It is time to explore if the films being made are doing all they can to help, if the large carbon footprint of making such films is justifiable, what these films are excluding from the frame and, most importantly, the potential they have to evolve and redefine success.

In a series of short films we will hear from wildlife filmmakers from across the globe that have witnessed the ecological crises unfolding and are exploring alternative paths. This will be followed by a panel discussion on next steps with some of the biggest players in the industry. Can the wildlife filmmaking industry rise to the challenge?


Planetary Conservation: A global intergenerational discussion on how to effectively preserve and safeguard the natural world

The destruction of nature is not contained within national boundaries, so why are our responses? This session will address the need for cross border collaboration to preserve the natural world and its biodiversity. There is a need for a cultural shift from one that separates people from nature to one which emphasises the symbiotic relationship between humanity and our environment.

This session is brought to you by One Young World, the global forum for young leaders, in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and will highlight some of the pioneering work on the frontlines of this fight that can guide future conservation efforts.


What Does Meaningful Youth Leadership Look Like?

Join youth climate activists from around the world as they talk about the impacts of climate change they are experiencing and the action and campaigning they are part of. Campaigners from Mock COP26 and Fridays for Future MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas) will join in-person and youth who cannot attend COP26 via video. They will share what was achieved when hundreds of youth worldwide came together to show their climate ambition through Mock COP26, an online conference that filled the void left by the postponement of COP26 last year. During this event there will be a space for the young people on the panel to answer your questions and talk about their vision for real youth leadership on climate.

Instagram: @mockcop26
Twitter: @mockcop26


Visions of tomorrow for a sustainable future in Scotland and Malawi

Our generation, and those that follow, will live with the consequences of the decisions being made now at COP26 in Glasgow.

The international collaboration between Malawi Scotland Partnership and 2050 Climate Group was announced by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2018 at the 2050 Climate Group Youth Summit. We’ve been supported by the Scottish Government since then and we are thrilled to have Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment and Land Reform join our session to discuss the importance of supporting collaborations between Scotland and Malawi young leaders.

Our partnership is based on the premise that young people are at the forefront of climate action. We believe that the urgent work of addressing the climate crisis is one that needs collaboration and a global mindset.

Our session will cover the work that we do in our respective countries, our visions for the future and our key asks out of COP26. You will hear from leaders in Malawi and Scotland. Come and hear our stories.

Brenda Mwale – Malawi Climate Leaders network
Chloe Campbell – 2050 Climate Group
David Samikwa – Malawi Climate Leaders network
Emma Yule – 2050 Climate Group
Màiri McAllan – Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Scottish Government
Sarah Knight – 2050 Climate Group
Tom McKennna – 2050 Climate Group
Lotte Beekenkamp (Moderator) – 2050 Climate Group


Covid-19: what has it meant for the people, the planet, and the future of off-grid energy access?

The panelists, the top off-grid sector experts and players, will explore the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on provision of decentralised clean energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Global South more broadly. They will discuss what the off-grid energy sector now needs to ensure the inclusive, resilient, and green recovery required for reaching climate-related goals, and specifically SDG7 – clean energy for all.

In a rich and wide-ranging discussion, panelists will interrogate different emerging hypotheses from the ‘Chapters of Covid’. These takeaways will be published in post-COP26 report, co-authored by a range of leading off-grid companies, investors and fund managers. Jonathan Phillips of Duke University’s Energy Access Project will moderate the panel and Duke will lead the development of the takeaways report.


Urban informality & inequality – a call for global climate justice

The event, organised by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), in partnership with Cities Alliance and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will bring together international speakers and audience members from local and city governments; central governments; research communities; and civil society to discuss climate justice and the importance of taking account of the cumulative risks created by conditions of urban informality, inequality and climate vulnerability in developing effective responses to climate change. We will identify priorities for action and the role that researchers, civil society actors, city governments and policy makers can play in strengthening local action for sustainable climate justice.


Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Joanes Atela, Convener Africa Research and Impact Network, Director Partnerships African Centre for Technology Studies, Kenya
Harriet Bulkeley, Professor of Geography, Durham University, UK.
Vanesa Castan Broto, Professor of Climate Urbanism, University of Sheffield, UK
Sonia Dias, Waste Specialist, WIEGO, Brazil
David Dodman, Director, Human Settlements, International Institute for Environment and Development, UK
Aníbal Gaviria, Governor of Antioquia, Colombia and President of Cities Alliance
Heike Henn, Deputy Director General, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
Rubbina Karruna, Regional Cities & Infrastructure Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UK
Rose Molokoane, Vice-President Slum Dwellers International, South Africa
Greg Munro, Director, Cities Alliance (Chair)
Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, India
Emilia Saiz, Secretary General, UCLG on behalf of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments

The event will be held concurrently in person and online, with an interactive panel discussion. It will offer an opportunity to help shape critical policy and research priorities for addressing climate change equitably in cities – where informality and inequality are the reality. The event will help shape priorities for research and local action to ensure better chances of achieving urban climate justice.


Fairtrade Farmers: Our Food and the Fight for Climate Justice

Chair: Mary Kinyua, Oserian Flowers, Kenya and Fairtrade International representative to the COP President’s Civil Society and Youth Council


  • Benjamin Franklin Kouamé, Cocoa Farmer and Fairtrade Africa
  • Andres Gonzales, Sugar Farmer and Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Producers and Workers
  • Muniraju Shivanna, Sugar farmer and Fairtrade Network of Asian & Pacific Producers
  • Cheryl Pinto, Global Values Led Sourcing Manager, Ben & Jerry’s

A live, interactive panel discussion with Fairtrade farmer representatives from the Producer Networks and business leaders to discuss what further action is needed from citizens, business and governments to scale-up global efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

In order to achieve global climate targets, we need to transform the global food system and its relationship with global trade. Those already facing the harshest effects of the climate crisis must be a central part of building solutions for a just transition to a truly sustainable global food system.

Farming communities in climate vulnerable nations across the Global South are amongst those already experiencing the worst effects of climate change. We’ll hear some of the ways they are already taking action to adapt and support their communities and transition to more climate-friendly farming methods.