Leading from the front: responding with urgency to the climate emergency

Side event

Representatives of the least developed countries, grassroots community organisations and climate action leaders attended an IIED-organised series of high-level debates during London Climate Action Week in July.

A huddle of people gather around one person to give advice and discuss negotiating tactics

During London Climate Action Week, least developed countries’ representatives, grassroots community organisations and climate action leaders explored collaborating to achieve rapid societal change.

In the last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning of the impacts that exceeding 1.5°C will have for the world, particularly for the poorest members of society, and more recently the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) raised the alarm that more than one million species face imminent extinction if urgent action is not taken to protect nature.

The least developed countries (LDCs) are the 47 poorest countries that will be worst affected by climate impacts. Rather than seeing themselves as victims, they intend to show the world what is possible with real commitment.

The LDCs are collaborating with progressive voices from across the globe to explore how rapid change across societies in the developed and developing world can be achieved – whether national and local governments, international and multilateral institutions, private sectors actors, social movements or local communities.

On Monday, 1 July during London Climate Action Week, a series of high-level debates were held to explore these issues with representatives of the LDCs, grassroots community organisations and climate action leaders.

Event details

Date: Monday, 1 July,
Venue: The Willis Building, 51 Lime Street, London EC3M 7NP (more details about the Willis Building)

1-2.20pm: Responding with urgency to the climate emergency

We need to urgently strive towards a fossil-fuel free society by 2050, bending the curve of global emissions by 2020 and rapidly reducing emissions thereafter. The world’s LDCs and poorest communities have contributed the least to the climate emergency but will suffer the most from its effects. It is therefore imperative that actions to help communities adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate are implemented, alongside actions to reduce emissions.

LDCs and social movements from the poorest communities are emerging as champions in the fight against climate change. This session will discuss the implications of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C and explore the bold visions for urgent ambitious action that different actors – including LDCs, cities, citizens and local communities at the frontline of climate change – are taking to build a fair, sustainable and resilient future.

Speaker included: 

  • Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science and Head of the Climate Dynamics Group, University of Oxford
  • H.E. Mr Lamin Dibba, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, The Gambia
  • Emma Boyd, UK Commissioner to the GCA and Chair of the UK Environment Agency
  • Violet Shivutse, Director of Shibuye Community Health Workers and Chair of Huairou Commission Governing Council
  • Youth representative, Extinction Rebellion

The panel and Q&A was chaired by Andrew Norton, Director, IIED.

2.20-2.40pm: Coffee break

2.40-4pm: Financing urgent ambition

International public and private climate finance is failing to help those most impacted by the climate emergency, especially those living in LDCs and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Despite the needs of the world’s poorest communities in LDCs they receive only 18% of international public climate finance and negligible private investment.

Communities living in LDCs and SIDS at the frontline of climate change should be empowered to benefit from not just from the billions but trillions of investment. Change needs to go from the incremental to exponential, catalysed by fundamental reform in how climate finance is delivered. In this the poorest nations and communities will be enabled to take the lead in adapting to the impact of climate change and developing low-carbon economies. This session set out the solutions for delivering equitable climate finance, getting 'money where it matters', to communities at the frontiers of ambitious climate action.

Speaker included: 

  • Hon. Sam. M. Cheptoris, Minister, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda
  • Tixon T. Nzunda, Permanent Secretary, Presidents office for regional and local government (PO-RALG), Tanzania
  • Beth Chitekwe Biti, Deputy Manager, SDI
  • Farayi Madziwa, Coordinator of the Readiness Programme, Adaptation Fund
  • Simon Young, Strategic Advisor to the Capital, Science and Policy Practice, Willis Towers Watson and President and Principal Consultant of GeoSY Ltd.
  • Ms Sabera Khan, REEEP - Investing in Clean Energy Markets

This panel was chaired by Deon Nel, CEO, Global Resilience Partnership

Related reading: LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE-AR) | Delivering real change: getting international climate finance to the local level