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Climate justice the focus of Hutton’s first online screening

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Panel TYFTR
“The film demonstrated that technocratic approaches to mitigate the effects of climate change require resources and infrastructure which are not always available to the poorer communities, particularly in the Global South. And so, the solutions to tackle climate changes should be based on the socio-economic realities and lived experiences of communities at the frontline of climate change"

The award-winning film Thank You For The Rain was the focus of the James Hutton Institute’s first ever collective 'online' film screening on the 6th of April, highlighting a range of issues including climate justice, urbanisation and gender equality.

The digital gathering was arranged after the original in-house event had to be cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 circumstances. The collaborative film was made by Kisilu Musya, a Kenyan farmer, climate fighter and video diarist, and Julia Dahr, a Norwegian filmmaker and activist. It documents Kisilu’s journey from father to community leader and climate activist on the global stage.

Over 170 online viewers registered for the screening; these ‘virtual’ delegates were encouraged to log on and watch the film together at 7:00pm. Following the film, a panel discussed and reflected on the issues raised and interacted with an audience during a Q&A session.

The panel included Institute researchers Anja Byg and Imelda Uwase. Anja conducts research on human-environment relationships in several countries, which includes working with small holding farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, while Imelda is researching the impacts on soil health from the practice of polyculture. This farming technique is used by many small holding farmers in the global south because it's considered to be more resilient to climate change.

During the panel discussion Imelda said: “The film demonstrated that technocratic approaches to mitigate the effects of climate change require resources and infrastructure which are not always available to the poorer communities, particularly in the Global South. And so, the solutions to tackle climate changes should be based on the socio-economic realities and lived experiences of communities at the frontline of climate change.

“Applying this collaborative approach to agriculture consists in combining traditional farming knowledge with ecological knowledge of agroecosystems to design agricultural practices resilient to climate change and affordable to these poor communities.”

Also on the panel was Kate Whitaker, an activism organiser at Friends of the Earth Scotland who works on movement building with communities and activists on climate and environmental justice across Scotland. The final panellist was Justin Kenrick, an activist anthropologist and Senior Policy Advisor at Forest Peoples Programme where he works for community land rights in Kenya and Congo.

Justin said: “One important point that came out in the film was about leadership and hoping that leaders would be the parents. I think we need to move away from the idea that leaders are parents who will look after us. In the West we have a very strong notion of that. Even in social change movements, we always fix it to individuals - whether Greta or Ghandi - and they’re great people, but the need now is to not burn ourselves out, to instead enable shared leadership.

“Shared leadership is key, realising that good leadership always happens from below. The same idea can be applied to land reform in Scotland, it was taking action triggered by small communities, and then the Scottish Parliament took it on. Good change always happens from below, so really enabling connected leadership is important.”

Scott Herrett, a social researcher at the Institute and organiser of the screening said: “The aim of the event was to create a public space that foregrounded global and climate justice. I think tackling these issues is fundamental to the success of the global response towards the climate and ecological crisis. It felt important to shed some light on these issues by holding a public screening of film that acutely illustrates this as well as drawing upon the knowledge of our scientists and others in Scotland who are all working towards the same goals”.

The James Hutton Institute would like to thank Banyak Films and Differ Media for kindly providing access to the film during these difficult times. If you can, then please support their ongoing work here.

More information from: 

Adam Walker, Communications Officer, James Hutton Institute, Tel: 01224 395095 (direct line), 0344 928 5428 (switchboard).


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.