What was remarkable about this meeting was that individuals from around the world, who sometimes felt like the challenges standing in the way to meeting their strategic goals were unique to their own country, were able to learn and build on the experience of representatives from other countries who had made leaps and bounds in meeting strategic aims. There was also quite a profound sense of “we can do it” and “we will win” that spread across the team. A group of diverse individuals came together as a team, shared their challenges and their successes, and learned together, Reos Partners were delighted to be part of creating the conditions for an international group of change-makers to come together as one team, and as one participant described it, coming together as a community of people who share a commitment to protecting the planet.
The Global Climate Change and Energy Initiative (GCEI)
The Global Climate Change and Energy Initiative (GCEI)
May 4, 2012
Two and half years ago, Reos Partners was asked to facilitate a global meeting for an international team at the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in preparation for the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, the gathering of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At this annual event, heads of state discuss and form agreements on combating climate change, including plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to an unpredictable world of increased global temperatures.
Since Copenhagen, the new strategy of the Global Climate and Energy Initiative (GCEI) was formulated, effectively merging the former Climate focused initiative, the Global Energy Programme and the Business Engagement Programme. The GCEI has set ambitious goals in four strategic areas: low carbon frameworks for national development, renewable energy at scale, public and private green finance and business engagement. In its new form, the whole network team of over 100 people had not yet met in person. The GCEI management team asked Reos to co-design and facilitate a meeting for participants from various program offices to come together as a network and go into depth about implementing an ambitious strategy towards a low-carbon future worldwide.
Innovative Meeting Design
The Reos team worked with the strategy leads within the GCEI management team. The meeting design was innovative in that it combined strategy work with activities for building the capacity necessary to implement that strategy. The program focused on building capacity and sharing knowledge in the areas of power mapping (mapping existing power relationships that stand in the path of environmental change), alliance and coalition building, and campaigns for change and business engagement, with additional sessions on renewable energy and fundraising.
Participants came from WWF offices across the globe. For each capacity-building segment, experts from within and outside of WWF shared their knowledge with the group. WWF speakers included Sam Smith, leader of the GCEI; David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF UK; Regine Guenther, head of climate and energy policy for WWF Germany, Sandra Guzman from WWF Mexico and many others. The idea was to share best practice from across the network so everyone could learn from achievements in protecting the environment and the transition to renewable energy. From outside WWF, Jay Naidoo, the anti-apartheid activist joined the group, providing inspiration, motivation and energy to the group. Jay was the former communications minister in Nelson Mandela’s cabinet in South Africa and was the founding general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). As the leader of the largest trade union federation in the country, he was at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid. In addition to Jay, Jeremy Leggett, a geologist who argues that successful green businesses are badly needed in the global fight to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, also gave a thought-provoking speech. Jeremy founded Solarcentury, the UK's largest solar solutions company as well as a private equity fund for renewable energy as well as making waves in green finance with CarbonTracker.
Creative Capacity Building
Through their participation in this meeting, a diverse group of 100 specialists on climate change and energy from different offices worldwide came together to work collaboratively on the GCEI strategy and share learnings and best practice. This journey had many highlights and involved a number of creative approaches to capacity building. One example was the creation of a physical map through which the participants could explore contemporary trends and relationships and experiment with how to change them to achieve carbon dioxide emission reduction objectives. Another example was the running of a mock “Dragon’s Den” programme, in which entrepreneurs pitch ideas to investors. In this case, individuals from WWF pitched sustainability proposals, such as transitioning to renewable energy, to actual business representatives. We are grateful to Mark Wade, Nicola Milson, and Gus Schellekens, who gave their time to act as “dragons” at the meeting.
In debriefing the gathering, one participant said it was the best meeting she had been to in 25 years. Another mentioned that as a person from a developing country operating in English as a foreign language, she felt comfortable sharing her ideas with the group as a whole in a way that she hadn’t before. Another group member said, “It was an excellent meeting, truly inspirational and very motivating. I really think that these face-to-face meetings are invaluable in creating a genuine international team and making sure we work really closely with maximum impact as a network.”