2015 Development & Climate Days: tough talk on crucial transitions

This year's Development & Climate (D&C) Days conference delivered "tough talk on poverty and climate" and focused on the key transitions needed to tackle climate change and eradicate poverty by 2030.

The 2015 Development & Climate Days at COP21 will focus on "tough talk on poverty and climate"

The 2015 Development & Climate Days at COP21 will focus on "tough talk on poverty and climate"

More than 200 policymakers, scientists and development practitioners attended the 2015 Development & Climate Days in Paris on Saturday, 5 December and Sunday, 6 December. D&C Days is held each year alongside the United Nations climate talks and provides an opportunity for policymakers, scientists and development practitioners to meet for informal discussions, strategic dialogues and networking. 

The 2015 D&C Days programme focused on transitions – the changes necessary to integrate adaptation to climate change and development.

The conference featured a range of high-level speakers, including former Irish President Mary Robinson, of the Mary Robinson Foundation on Climate Justice; Pa Ousman Jarju, The Gambia's Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Water and Wildlife; and Stephane Hallegate, senior economist at the World Bank. They were joined by leading researchers from NGOs, development organisations and practitioners from around the world.

Programme highlights

The opening plenary had the theme 'Zero poverty, zero emissions', and looked at how resilient low-carbon development can deliver the sustained, equal and pro-poor growth that is necessary to eradicate poverty permanently. This session also highlighted the transitions in energy, land use and human habitation that are needed in order to deliver low-carbon, resilient development.  

The zero carbon, zero poverty agenda is challenging for all countries. For the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) the costs are high, but the opportunities may be even greater. Fatima Denton, director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa's (UNECA) Climate Policy Initiative, spoke about Ethiopia's plans to build a zero carbon economy. She said that this model would bring high costs, but these costs could also be seen as an opportunity to invest.

Denton called for a strong communications strategy to highlight the opportunities related to climate change. She said: "How can we use communications to move away from apocalyptic hopeless story into a positive one? We need to make the business case and the case for equity and fairness so countries can see this is about enlightened self-interest."

Members of IIED's LDC Independent Expert Group participated in numerous sessions. IEG member Mariteuw Chimere Diaw, director general of the African Model Forest Network (AMFN), spoke about energy transitions and zero carbon development and the LDCs. Moving energy systems away from fossil fuels is central to a zero carbon development approach. Diaw noted that many African countries do not need to decarbonise because they had not carbonised in the first place. 

Other sessions focused on adaptation and finance, participatory processes and livestock systems for climate resilience. Speakers also urged immediate and radical action on climate change mitigation

Day two of D&C Days began with 'lightning talks' about innovative products, tools, technologies and approaches that are being used by adaptation and development practitioners. There were also sessions on adaptation in dryland areas, and managing adaptation for developmental outcomes in the LDCs and Small Island States. 

The programme also featured an innovative session on climate change and food which challenged participants to think about the future of food by serving snacks made with insects

The closing panel featured numerous high-level speakers, including Robinson, the former Irish President and champion of human rights and climate action. Robinson called for global solidarity in the face of climate change impacts. She said actions to mitigate climate change must prioritise the poor. Climate mitigation actions, designed and implemented carelessly, could be socially damaging. "We have to target and prioritise the poorest in everything we do," said Robinson. 

Katharine Mach of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) working group II on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability said climate change could have widely different levels of impact. She said: "We are looking at a very high risk of unevenness, unfairness of the impacts – the impacts on crop yields, water availability will be very hard to deal with for those who are dealing with poverty eradication now."

D&C Days have taken place at the UN Climate talks since 2002.

This year's event was organised by IIED in partnership with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). An event programme is available to download (PDF).