Following Copenhagen, there seemed to be a feeling and perception that the world had let itself down by failing to reach the kind of international agreement and commitment that would significantly and urgently begin to tackle issues of climate change. For many people and organisations, there is a disconnect or a weak link between climate change discourse and development thinking and practice.

Mid 2010, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) began to think about how to strengthen the nexus between climate change and development. A consortium of organisations were convened by CDKN to try and host an event that could bring new life into the issues of Copenhagen and discover new ways of ensuring that climate change and development were complementary sides of one coin. This thinking culminated into the CDKN Change Lab Event that took place in Oxford from 3rd to 7th April 2011.

The preparation to the Change Lab Event involved setting up of a cross-sectoral group of process designers and facilitators. Wasafiri Partner Martin Kalungu-Banda was invited to lead on the key methodology to be used during the event.

The emphasis in preparation was about designing a process that would allow the 200 participants from over 70 countries, covering public, private and civil society sectors to interact and think together in order to come up with innovative ways of establishing the nexus between climate change and development. The internet was extensively used to learn from the experiences and expertise of all the participants. Guest speakers who could help the participants gain quick understanding of the some aspects of the challenge were identified and properly briefed. Weekly internet meetings were held over a period of four months in order to design and test the process for hosting and conducting the event.

The hosting environment was carefully chosen (Oxford University) because of its capacity to provide the space and atmosphere required for break-through thinking. The best practices in human interaction and systems thinking were tapped into and brought into the design. The entire process was a mix of plenary conversations; small group discussions; and individual moments of reflection. To maximise the creativity of the participants, various tools and techniques in creative processes such sculpting, drawing and painting; systems games and journaling, among others, were used.

Working in small groups created on the basis of interest and work/ organisational focus, participants came up with 26 prototypes that are going to be implemented in order to bring about the new situation where issues of climate change and development would be simultaneously worked on. Equally important were the different collaborative relationships and networks that emerged during the four-day event. These networks, it is hoped, will leverage the distinctive competencies of the various institutions and sectors that in the past had never tapped into each other’s strengths, experience and expertise.

The context: The world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the ones most affected by Climate Change. Yet they bear little responsibility for humankind’s contributions to the problem. Achieving a fair and legally-binding deal from multilateral climate negotiations has become quite simply an issue of survival for the most vulnerable.

Wasafiri’s role: Wasafiri consultant Liberal Seburikoko has been contracted to lead Climate Analytics’ work in Africa, providing LDC’s with real-time, cutting-edge scientific, political and strategic support for global Climate Change negotiations.

Generating action: The capacity of Africa’s poorest countries – those most affected by Climate Change – to negotiate a fairer deal at global Climate Change forums has been greatly increased by Liberal’s work. LDCs are in a stronger position than ever before to ensure their interests as considered alongside those of the world’s richest nations.