Helping vulnerable nations engage in climate diplomacy

Reaching equitable outcomes for the most vulnerable countries and communities through global policymaking processes involves more than attending formal negotiating sessions. IIED’s work on climate diplomacy supports climate diplomats from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to better advocate for the most vulnerable.


Brianna Craft, Researcher

Negotiators, including representatives of the Least Developed Countries, at the UNFCCC conference centre in Bonn in January 2014 (Photo: IIED)

By raising the voices of the LDCs, establishing relationships and building bridges to reach consensus on pertinent issues, these climate diplomats are opening new avenues for the most vulnerable in the diplomatic sphere that surrounds the UN climate negotiations. 

Negotiating a global response

The international community is engaged in a continuous process of technical negotiations to agree on the global response to climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Surrounding these formal negotiations, however, diplomats conduct a series of separate meetings and interactions around the world. 

Their activities run in parallel to the UN talks and seek to shape both the substance of the negotiations and the global response to climate change. While wealthy, industrialised nations have long appointed Special Climate Envoys and other diplomats to undertake this work, LDCs have often lacked the influence and capacity to successfully engage in this diplomatic sphere.    

The fact that the LDCs are now appointing Special Climate Envoys demonstrates the growing sense of urgency for action to combat climate change among these highly vulnerable nations. They meet with stakeholders on diplomatic missions that feature conferences with senior climate officials, top negotiators, civil society organisations and media representatives. By conducting these meetings and missions, the Special Climate Envoys are raising the LDCs' profile and opening new avenues in the diplomatic sphere surrounding the UN climate negotiations - and ultimately to spur global action on climate change.

What is IIED doing?

As part of IIED's work to support the LDCs, we provide Special Climate Envoys from the LDCs with legal, technical and strategic advice. We support their work to advocate for the most vulnerable and build bridges with major players in the UNFCCC negotiations.

Senior fellow Saleemul Huq and principal researcher Achala Abeysinghe offer advice, highlighting areas where national interests converge and suggesting pathways to progress. The envoys also use briefing papers produced for them by other IIED researchers and partners to review the latest research and analysis.

We also handle the logistics that accompany diplomatic missions and convene meetings during the UN climate change negotiations, provide media and communications advice, and support capacity-building in the form of professional development.

Find out more


Increasing the influence of LDC climate diplomacy; Developing a theory of change, Brianna Craft (2016) Discussion paper

Additional resources

Engaging effectively in climate diplomacy: policy pointers from the Gambia, Bubu Pateh Jallow and Brianna Craft (2014), IIED Briefing paper


Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)


International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)


Brianna Craft (