Q&A with WWF Scotland

  • 27 Aug 2021
  • Written by Nick Cullen
  • General

Climate Fringe Week is right around the corner. From 18-26 September 2021, we will be holding the largest climate justice and nature focused event ever in Scotland. We are asking you to create an event for Climate Fringe Week, and be part of Scotland’s fight against the climate crisis.

Since we began in May 2020, we have had over 30,000 visits per month to our website. This month has shown us the IPCC report urgently calling for our systems to change in anticipation of climate warming and the international UN climate summit COP26 is coming to Glasgow this November. There has never been a better time for the general public to organise together and influence parliament and local authorities to act positively for climate.

Join us at Climate Fringe Week as we do this together, for a fun-filled week of exhibitions, book launches, bike rides, climate cafes and talks. We’ve talked with one of the major event organisers for the festival: WWF Scotland.

Welcome! What made you create this event?

The Great Scottish Canvas is a vision of a greener, fairer Scotland created by people of all ages and backgrounds from all across the country. We asked people to draw, write, paint, create a response to the climate and nature crises in the hope that we could bring these voices to the decision making table in a new and engaging way. The Great Scottish Canvas virtual exhibition and book are the results. We received almost 200 submissions from all corners of Scotland- from Shetland to the Borders and Aberdeenshire to the Western Isles, in all sorts of artistic mediums and in English, Gaelic, Scots and Punjabi.  The pieces tackle subjects from renewables to rewilding and from political action to personal memories of Scotland’s past and hopes for our future.

What pieces are you excited to show at this event?

We had so many submissions it was really a difficult task to shortlist these down to 50 featured pieces. People of all ages and backgrounds took the time to create something for the canvas and as such it really is a genuine tapestry of art that explores people’s hopes around the key pillars of climate action- from transport and heat to farming and nature restoration. We have artworks and poems from school children as well as sculptures, paintings and weaving created by artists across Scotland. We also have poems written in Gaelic, Scots, Shetland dialect and Punjabi, as well as English. We are looking forward to seeing how decision makers at Scottish Parliament, Government and COP26 engage with this creative mandate for action.

How will you show the exhibition online?

From the first day of Climate Fringe Week, people will be able to access the virtual exhibition via a simple link. The exhibition has been created exactly like a ‘real life’ exhibition. Expert curators from the National Galleries of Scotland worked with the WWF team to curate a full exhibition experience, with people able to access different rooms to look at all the different pieces. The exhibition also has audio so people can hear poems being read and information about the artworks, as well as information about the people who created them and their message for a greener, fairer future. We will be launching the exhibition link on our @WWFScotland social media channels so keep your eyes peeled. We’ll also be taking the book of the Great Scottish Canvas to COP to start conversations about the fairer, greener future people want to see.

What is your ambition for Climate Fringe Week?

Climate Fringe Week is all about people coming together with their own skills and passions to work together to build a different future, one where people and nature can thrive. At WWF we are delighted to be a part of that, and to bring the voices and visions of people all across Scotland to the table via the Great Scottish Canvas. We believe the Great Scottish Canvas is something unique, collaborative, and creative that offers a new way for people to think about and engage with the climate and nature crises. We would love to have as many visitors as possible to the exhibition during Climate Fringe Week and beyond. We are also organising an event for MSPs to visit the online gallery and see for themselves the clear demand for action that these creative and inspiring pieces present.

Do you have hopes for COP?

It is very clear that for COP26 in Glasgow must keep 1.5 degrees on the table, meaning all measures must be taken to ensure the average global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees C. The latest report from the UN’s leading climate science body – the IPCC – has stated that we need all hands on deck, and that this is a ‘code red’ for humanity. We must see industrialised nations leading the way with the commitments, and action plans, to reduce emissions, provide finance to help adapt to the impacts of climate change, and actually deliver on them. While the difference between 1.5C and 2C may not seem like much, at 2 degrees we see three times as many people exposed to extreme heatwaves than at 1.5 degrees. At 2 degrees, we see a massive 170% rise in flood risk, and virtually all coral reefs lost by 2100. Every degree counts, every decision counts.

What sort of legacy do you want COP26 to leave in Scotland?

COP26 has been a great spark for many people in getting involved in their own climate action journey- whether that’s getting more informed, joining a group or getting creative. Already there has been a massive surge in conversation and action around climate change, from media stories to community initiatives. People are drawing the links between climate change, social justice, racial justice, health inequality and economic justice and creating networks and partnerships and new allies to call for change. We’ve been delighted to work with youth groups, faith groups, community groups, health groups, racial justice groups, arts and literary groups and more this year in acting on the climate and nature crises- helping secure key commitments from the Scottish political parties and creating a shared vision of a future where people and nature thrive through the Great Scottish Canvas. COP is bringing people together around a shared concern and people are leading the change from the ground up.



  • Nick Cullen

    Nick is a past coordinator for the Climate Fringe platform and Climate Fringe Festival, working on strategy, website development and communications. He spent two years at SCCS in the lead up to COP26 and led on developing the Homestay Network, volunteering programme, COVID-19 safety, and many other aspects of logistics and operations in collaboration with the COP26 Coalition.