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Ariane Burgess: The MSP asks – How do we begin making change? She argues it is impossible alone as 'we need to change together in our communities, with local and national government support and companies changing their business practices'


By Scott Maclennan


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Highlands and Islands Greens MSP Ariane Burgess.
Highlands and Islands Greens MSP Ariane Burgess.

About a year ago I was elected to the Scottish Parliament. What a tremendous year, with a massive change for me and learning on the job. I’ve had tremendous support from the parliamentary community to find my way.

Even to this day, people ask me, ‘are you enjoying it?’

The experience is beyond enjoyment; it is incredibly fulfilling, requiring me to use every ounce of my skills and abilities. While some work is familiar – like convening committees, others have required change – like engaging in the debating chamber.

Due to the need for urgent action on our climate and nature emergencies, I entered politics after working in community development. Whether we want to or not, runaway climate change and our utterly degraded natural environment make it clear - we all must change.

Having gone through an intense year of change, I know it is possible. We make it hard when we resist the inevitable. I am heartened that more people are changing in response to our twin emergencies.

How do we begin making change? By recognising the interconnectedness of everything and our dependence on nature to provide the fundamentals of life – water, air and living soil, and energy from the sun.

When we buy tomatoes, for example, we have to see not only the tomatoes but where and how they were grown and the conditions the workers growing them faced. Then there’s the packaging and how they ended up on the shelf – probably shipped from far. What about our experience of eating those tomatoes? Are they tasty or tasteless?

This awareness builds the picture of interconnectedness, which helps us to question how we could do things differently. To continue with those tomatoes, how could we have tomatoes grown locally, cutting down on food miles and packaging? What needs to change to have good working conditions for the workers? And how could the money made stay local to benefit our communities?

But our questions and the answers will not help bring the change urgently needed unless we put restoration of our natural environment at the centre of our concern.

Which is why we must start asking questions that end with ...to ensure nature thrives?

By asking questions like these we start to engage as designers of a liveable future. We need to redesign the way we meet all our needs while supporting the natural environment to regenerate. This in turn will contribute greatly to keeping the climate at a temperature that supports life on Earth.

But we can’t do it individually, we need to change together in our communities, with local and national government support and companies changing their business practices.

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