Meet the alumni making waves in the climate crisis
Edinburgh is celebrating some of its former students at the forefront of the global climate response.
Launched during COP27 – the United Nation’s 27th meeting on climate - the University has created a list of 75 alumni who are making an impact to address climate change.
The inspirational role of former students includes scientists, journalists, researchers, artists, educators and entrepreneurs. Some are well-known for pushing the boundaries of technology and influencing change, while others are making breakthroughs with communities most impacted by the changing climate.
The full list of alumni can be found on our Climate 75 website.
The list celebrates those involved in climate justice and are working with those most vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet.
Among them are Prince Chakanyuka and Forget Shareka.
Prince came to the University as one of six pioneer Mastercard Foundation Scholars. After graduating with an MSc in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, he and Forget helped co-found Chashi Foods.
The socially and environmentally responsible enterprise produces 100 per cent natural dried fruits and vegetables sourced directly from rural farmers in Zimbabwe. Food that would usually go to waste is preserved, helping to reduce hunger and at the same time increase income for rural farmers.
“To both address climate action and economic growth at global scale, we need to start by addressing the needs of our local communities,” Prince explains. “This ensures that we deliver long-term inclusive prosperity and reduce economic inequality.”
Forget graduated with an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2021 and alongside her work with Chashi Foods, she is now working as a graduate Environmental Officer at Dunbia Group.
Forget has worked with a number of important international initiatives, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She has been a voice for rural farmers, youth in agribusiness, and women on international platforms.
“We continue to take learnings from leaders around us,” says Forget. “But most importantly, we need to listen to the communities we work with to ensure we continue to play our part towards our climate action.”
Many alumni are helping to pave the way for climate action, inspiring people to fight the effects of climate change.
Akil Callender – an MSc graduate in Energy, Society and Sustainability – is a Youth Energy and Climate Advocate. He has represented the Caribbean Region at the first Youth4Climate Summit in 2021 and at the Sustainable Energy for All Global Forum in 2022.
“Youth represent the largest demographic on the planet. For them, success or failure in addressing the climate crisis will define the world that we live in,” says Akil. “As such, it is only natural that they are at the forefront of efforts to reduce emissions and ensure a liveable planet for current and future generations.”
Akil now works as a Youth Specialist at Sustainable Energy for All, an international organisation that works to drive faster action towards access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
Akil is keen to emphasis the role young people have in policy and decision-making processes: “They should be given the platforms, tools and resources, and the access to opportunities that grants them the chance to shape their own futures."
Governments and policymakers are often responsible for implementing climate solutions and some of our alumni are helping to push change at the highest level.
A leading voice on climate change is Kirsty Duncan, a politician and deputy leader of the government in the House of Commons in Canada.
Kirsty graduated with a PhD in Geography and has since taught environment and climate change at universities in Canada, consulted the Government of Canada and served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): “After working as a scientist for my government and serving on the IPCC, I decided to put my name forward to run for federal office and fight for climate action and future generations. And that’s what I have done in parliament for the past 14 years. I have been relentless.”
She has been elected five times to federal office and now chairs the inaugural Standing Committee on Science and Research in Parliament. Throughout her academic and parliamentary career, she has advocated for climate science, action, and justice.
Kirsty views the climate emergency as the defining issue of our time: “Around the world, we are feeling the impacts of climate change. And despite decades of climate talks, pledges are insufficient to prevent dangerous climate change. We must accelerate action for the sake of our children and grandchildren.”
“We need all hands-on deck to fight the climate emergency,” Kirsty continues: “I see people in our community, country, and around the world doing their part, changing the way they live, and fighting for more action. It’s a moral imperative. We have no planet B, and we must increase ambition and action.”
Picture credits: Climate 75 - Melanie Grandidge; Forget Shareka - Whitedog Photography