IIED's best of 2020: videos

IIED produced more than 150 videos this year, ranging from documentaries and short testimonials to recordings of the increasing number of webinars the institute has organised as a consequence of COVID-19. Here are 10 of the best.

Matt Wright's picture
Insight by 
Matt Wright
30 December 2020

This year arguably more than ever there was an increased focus on using video to communicate sustainable development issues. 

But while innovation and creatively were still to the fore, the events of 2020 and the greater reliance on communicating and collaborating digitally due to limitations imposed on travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, led to wider acknowledgement of the digital divide and the issues that many communities, particularly those already marginalised, had merely to be able to access those online channels, never mind contribute.

Over the coming months, IIED will be publishing a series of blogs exploring the lessons we have learned from organising events such as the IIED Debates series and shifting the 14th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA14) online. This will feature insight into research and discussions we’ve had with our partners about the challenges of reliable internet connectivity and bandwidth speed, plus potential solutions.

This will include the issues to address when considering the use of video for everything from online meetings to webinars and documentaries. Indeed, IIED’s own 2020 annual review, to be published in February, will have a strong video element.

The below list focuses on the videos we have published over the last 12 months, during which time we racked up more than 4,000 hours watched on our YouTube channel alone – already 400 hours more than the previous year by mid-December – from over 50 countries.


Water before gold: voices from Santurbán

This 15-minute film tells the story of the people of Santurbán in Colombia: their connection with the páramo – the Andean ecosystem where they live – and their struggle to maintain their environment and livelihoods.

The film, featuring spectacular drone footage of the local environment, was produced as part of work to explore the complex issues raised by international investments, investor-state disputes and arbitration mechanisms, and the series of interviews shows how the current global governance system impacts on local rights and realities.


First steps: Danise Love Dennis' diary

In February, we published a series of diary entries by Danise Love Dennis, a communications officer in Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Since 2018, Danise has been part of the European Capacity Building Initiative (ECBI), which supports junior climate negotiators from least developed countries (LDCs) to develop their skills and become specialist negotiators. The diary followed her 2019 learning journey, from organising community workshops to monitoring the capacity building track for the LDC Group at the UNFCCC negotiations in Madrid.

In addition to written entries, Danise recorded several videos in which her passion for the work she is doing and excitement at the progress she was making shined through.


Webinar recordings


An obvious consequence of moving events online, as a result of the pandemic, has been an increase in the number of people who are able to attend from wherever they are in the world; we have seen around five times as many registrations and attendees compared to previous years and the ability to easily record the online events means we can make them available afterwards to those who are unable to attend at the designated time.

Importantly though, we have focused effort on also increasing the diversity of our speakers and have seen around a one-third increase in non-UK-based speakers.

IIED Debates, our series designed to create space for conversation on key and current sustainable development issues, has been particularly active in ensuring different voices are heard more prominently, such as Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate and Rwandan youth leader Ineza Umuhoza Grace.

And wherever possible we have stretched the limitations of what is possible technically, for example by broadcasting live from the side of mountain in the Andes to allow people from around the world to hear directly from Indigenous experts from the Potato Park in Peru.


Protracted displacement in an urban world

In September, IIED hosted the premiere of a 40-minute documentary telling the stories of urban refugees in Kenya. It showed the experiences of refugee households living in Mathare, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.

In interviews in their homes, women and men from Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo speak frankly about the events that caused them to flee, their struggles finding shelter and work, and the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and livelihoods. Their stories demonstrate how little assistance they receive as refugees, and the challenges they face dealing with the authorities and humanitarian agencies.

The online premiere was held to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly and enabled attendees to ask questions of the documentary makers and other urban experts.


Thriving and just societies: Lord Zac Goldsmith

Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment in the UK government, said that COVID-19 was a reminder that we're not separate from the natural world in a speech as part of a London Climate Action Week event in November that called for greater finance to be invested in nature recovery.

The pre-recorded speech is an example of some of the high-profile contributions to IIED’s online events in 2020. This video is also an example of how, where time and resources allow, we have strived to provide subtitles and translations to address accessibility issues and ensure as many people as possible are able to follow what’s being said.


How the poorest countries are taking on climate change

“We know first-hand the devastating impacts of this climate crisis and understand better than anyone the urgency for addressing it. We will not sit back passively and are ready to do our part," said Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi, the chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group of the UNFCCC in this short film.

The leadership of the LDC Group is highlighted in this evocative video that was produced by IIED and released in advance of the Thimphu Ambition Summit in December.


Outstanding women in development

The postponement of June’s Barbara Ward Lecture, IIED’s biennial event to honour its founder, didn’t see any lessening of the institute’s focus on outstanding women in development as staff and partners instead celebrated the women who inspired them.

From Kumvana Mlumbe, a legal officer at the Women’s Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC) in Malawi, to Michelle Winthrop, the director Policy Unit director at Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the series highlighted the women doing amazing things in sustainable development.


"Refugees are more worried about hunger than COVID-19"

As part of a series of forward-looking responses to the coronavirus pandemic, drawing on insights from partners, we provided a platform for voices from the global South.

The reality of the situation is evident in the video above from Uganda, where the collapse of the informal economy as a result of national lockdowns has hit urban refugees hard, most especially the undocumented.


On youth inclusion

The importance of youth inclusion was a strong theme of the year, and this was evident during CBA14 as the likes of Sushila Pandit, above, discussed the connection between youth and nature-based solutions.

Holding CBA14 as a completely online event to those who registered not only allowed a greater worldwide attendance as each individual session took place, the ability to record each session and make it available for free afterwards via a YouTube playlist enabled the sessions to become resources widely accessible to the CBA community of practice. This was complemented by interviews with attendees and the live-streamed opening and closing plenaries.  


Adapting to digital training

With training sessions unable to be carried out in person, people have adapted by delivering detailed guidance online in the form of narrated lectures, as in the video above that provides an overview of IIED’s Money Where it Matters framework, or over a series of sessions over several months using a variety of different digital tools.

Video library

These 10 videos are only a selection of the films we hosted during 2020. Watch all of these videos – and many more – on IIED's YouTube channel and subscribe to get alerts when new videos are uploaded.

Previous years

Click on the year to see IIED’s video highlights from the last three years: 2019; 2018; 2017.