Climate Leadership Programme

The Climate Leadership Programme offers opportunities to young people at the forefront of climate action to develop knowledge, skills and networks.

Climate Leadership Programme

Addressing the climate crisis

All Mastercard Foundation Scholars at the University of Edinburgh will participate in a Climate Leadership Programme.

The aim of the programme is to enable Scholars to fulfil their potential and lead transformative change relating to sustainability and the climate crisis, particularly in their home countries.

Through Africa-based climate justice summer schools, climate-oriented placements, regular workshops and entrepreneurial pathways the programme will support scholars to transition into climate leadership positions.

Through these activities, Scholars will gain skills, knowledge, experience, networks, and the capacity for self-reflection.

Transformative Leadership

Our approach to tackling the climate crisis is grounded in the Mastercard Foundation’s vision of Transformative Leadership, defined as ‘the act of engaging others in an ethical manner to generate positive and lasting change.’  Therefore, our Climate Leadership Programme emphasises the importance of justice, inclusion and community.

We believe those most attuned to progressing this climate justice agenda include those who themselves have developed resilience in the face of exclusion. For this reason, we particularly encourage applications from young women, young people with disabilities, and young people with refugee and displaced status who are uniquely positioned to apply their experiences to create inclusive approaches.

Key Skills

The Climate Leadership Programme combines the activities mentioned above – summer schools, workshops, placements, and entrepreneurship – in different forms for on-campus and distance learning Scholars. However, both forms of the programme aim to build the following four key skills:

Entrepreneurial skills

Climate leaders are alert to innovative solutions and shifts in perspective that go beyond gradual improvements. Whether they aim to be an entrepreneur in a literal sense - running their own business or social enterprise - or leading change within an organisation, scholars will develop the ability to identify creative opportunities and implement game-changing solutions.

Values and justice 

Transformative leaders seek change for the greater good, not just themselves. Addressing climate change and other multi-dimensional challenges involves understanding systemic injustice. Scholars will clarify their own values, practice ways to lead ethically, and explore how to influence systemic change.


It is often said that 'it's not what you know, it's who you know'. But knowing isn't enough - leadership for liberation is about who scholars can build and maintain relationships with. Transformative leaders build networks that empower others as well as themselves. Scholars will learn to communicate in interdisciplinary ways and use empathy and understanding to dismantle barriers that exclude and silence others.

Self-knowledge and growth 

Effective leaders must first and foremost know themselves. We help Scholars to develop a sophisticated understanding of their own individual talents and needs, and how they can be used to empower others. Leading change over time requires stamina and resilience – Scholars will explore different strategies for building on your strengths and taking care of yourself.

Nurturing climate leaders

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program aims to make a meaningful impact in addressing the climate crisis.

We empower young people with the necessary knowledge, skills, and networks to drive sustainable transitions by offering a range of exceptional sustainability-focused postgraduate opportunities through the Program at the University.

How to apply

Find out more about the process of applying for a scholarship to study on-campus in Edinburgh with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. 

On-campus learning scholarships

Find out more about the process of applying for an online learning scholarship with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Edinburgh.

Online learning scholarships