Hidden handbrakes

Climate change mitigation, adaptation, and addressing loss and damage face slow progress due to complex and little-known barriers known as ‘hidden handbrakes’. Join us in unveiling and eliminating these obstacles to effective change.

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Hidden handbrakes

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This platform is based on user-generated content, and contributions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of IIED.

We welcome feedback on this platform and this work. Please send feedback or any enquiries to hiddenhandbrakes@iied.org, where you can also report any inaccuracies.

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With support from the Generation Foundation

'Hidden handbrakes' are invisible obstacles that are slowing down progress on climate action. This initiative, led by IIED, aims to identify and overcome these barriers to accelerate a global transition towards a greener future.

Global efforts to tackle climate change are being frustrated by a range of invisible barriers or ‘hidden handbrakes’, ingrained in societies and economies, that the public eye is broadly unaware of. Revealing and addressing these hidden handbrakes will be crucial in unlocking the power of climate action.

IIED and the Generation Foundation are working to identify and explore the underlying systems of power that protect the status quo and halt progress on climate action to better understand them and expose them to wider scrutiny.

This interactive platform is designed to uncover and share these hidden handbrakes. With your help, we aim to uncover and remove these obstacles through research, coalitions, communication and influencing.

A man in a suit and tie stands giving a speech, clutching a microphone in front of him

Despite global efforts to tackle the devastating effects of climate change, we are falling short of meeting the world's climate goals. What is hindering our progress? 

Read this blog by IIED's executive director Tom Mitchell

Exposing the hidden handbrakes

This platform is for anyone interested in what is blocking the systemic climate action our planet needs – and how we can collaborate to remove or find a way around these obstacles. 

We welcome contributions from individuals and organisations from across the globe, from local communities and civil society organisations to researchers and representatives of national governments and the private sector.

And we encourage journalists to explore the hidden handbrakes and follow up with contributors to shine a light on how the handbrakes are preventing the steps we need to take. You can connect with our media manager Sarah Grainger via sarah.grainger@iied.org.

Examples of hidden handbrakes include:

  • Legal contracts or agreements that make the intended beneficiaries of climate adaptation finance liable for underperformance, and
  • Open competitive tenders or calls, often underpinned by procurement law and accepted practices, that result in millions of hours of time from highly valuable climate change professionals invested each year in failed proposals.

What are hidden handbrakes? Explained in just 53 seconds 

Guidelines for contributors

Once you have registered, submitting a hidden handbrake should take no longer than five minutes. Your submission will be checked and published within 48 hours. If we would like to discuss your submission before publishing, we will contact you via email.

All submissions and comments should be concise and simple to understand, avoiding jargon. This platform is not intended to be an opportunity to condemn specific individuals or collective bodies, but rather highlight the systems and processes blocking climate action.

We are keen to encourage insightful, intellectually challenging discussion that is inclusive of diverse perspectives. We are open to strong opinions but please avoid bad language (including profanity). We will edit or not post submissions that we deem to be offensive.

Please respect other people’s views and beliefs when contributing and do not post personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other online contact details, which may relate to you or other individuals.

Do not make any commercial endorsement or promotion of any product, service or publication not relevant to the discussion. However, if it is helpful, please include a link to where more information on your submitted hidden handbrake might be found, or an article that illustrates your point.

More on hidden handbrakes

London Climate Action Week 2023 featured an event focused on hidden handbrakes, featuring researchers and representatives from IIED and The Generation Foundation.

Watch the full event on IIED's YouTube channel.