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NEWS: CDKN wins Climate Week Award for Legal Response Initiative

LONDON, 5 MARCH 2014 – A major initiative funded by CDKN to assist poor and climate-vulnerable countries to make their voices heard in the global climate negotiations has won the award for ‘best education or campaign initiative’ at the UK Climate Week Awards.

The Climate Week Awards “recognise the most inspirational and impressive actions taking place in every sector of society” and aim to showcase inspiring British initiatives on climate change during Climate Week, 3-9 March, 2014.

The award has been given to the Legal Response Initiative (LRI) for its work to amplify the voices of the poorest and most climate-vulnerable countries in the international climate change negotiations.

The Legal Response Initiative offers high quality, strategic legal services to low income countries, for free, in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. At present, the UNFCCC talks offer a crucial chance to prevent dangerous levels of climate change. However, low income countries – which have contributed least to climate change – have a disadvantage in the negotiations.  The UNFCCC talks are considered to be among the most complex multilateral law and policy-making processes in world history. Meetings are characterised by the use of technical jargon, reference to legal principles and procedural norms. The delegations of industrialised countries include specialised experts, lawyers and support staff. Negotiators from low-income countries can rarely rely on similar support.

The Legal Response Initiative aims to level the playing field by making its pro bono legal advice and assistance services available to as many poor and climate-vulnerable countries as possible. It also works to build and strengthen networks of legal experts from the global South. By so doing, LRI aims to give these countries a strong voice in climate negotiations and contribute meaningfully to a new global deal.

The Legal Response Initiative works through a network of 150 expert legal advisers from private sector law firms, universities and barrister chambers in different jurisdictions. This network gives hands-on assistance to negotiators during UNFCCC meetings, by drafting legal opinions and legal background papers to brief lawyers and negotiators from developing countries. LRI works with many poor and particularly climate vulnerable countries. This includes the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – 48 countries: 33 in Africa, 14 in Asia and the Pacific and one in Latin America.

Around 130 individuals involved in the climate negotiators have attended LRI’s specialised legal training sessions. For example, LRI organised a programme for lawyers from Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe who are involved in the UNFCCC talks, in April 2013. For one week, legal experts on international environmental law, treaty law and the UNFCCC process provided tailor-made, practical, hands-on training. The teaching materials, presentations and exercises were compiled in a manual and distributed for free on the internet. Afterwards, some of the participants held further training workshops for colleagues in their home countries. LRI’s training of trainers has created the foundation for an evolving network of climate law experts from different developing country jurisdictions and geographical regions.

As a result of LRI’s innovative work, poor and climate-vulnerable countries have made stronger arguments and achieved progress on difficult issues, such as restructuring international funding for climate adaptation activities, under the UN Convention.

Kiran Sura, CDKN’s Head of Advocacy Fund, said:  “I’m really pleased that the UK Climate Week Awards have recognised the vital service – until now largely invisible – the Legal Response Initiative plays in levelling the playing field for Least Developed Countries in international climate negotiations. LRI provides critical technical support during and in preparation of the negotiations, enabling these poor and climate-vulnerable countries to have a voice.”

Christoph Swarte, Director of LRI, said: “The award recognises the successful collaboration of LRI and CDKN over the last two years. It is a great boost for the legal community’s efforts to address climate change and its adverse effects on poor and particularly vulnerable societies.”


For interview, contact:

Kiran Sura, Head of Advocacy Fund, CDKN: +44 (0) 7803 456023,

Christoph Swarte, Director, LRI:  +44 (0) 7903 701287,

Mairi Dupar, Global Public Affairs Coordinator, CDKN: +44 (0) 7921 088475,


Editor’s notes:

About CDKN  

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) works to improve the quality of life for people most affected by climate change, in selected countries in Asia.  CDKN supports decision-makers in developing countries design and deliver climate compatible development.

CDKN is an alliance of six private and non-governmental organisations that bring together a wide range of expertise and experience: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), LEAD (International and Pakistan), Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano, SouthSouthNorth and INTRAC.  The team includes climate scientists, researchers, economists, consultants and project managers, along with specialists in communication, knowledge management and partnership building.

CDKN offers a distinctive, demand-led approach: decision-makers determine the kind of support we provide, and we help align it with the broader context of development policies and planning. As well as the work that responds directly to country demand, we support research and knowledge-sharing that builds the understanding and capacity of developing country decision-makers, regionally and internationally.

CDKN’s support to poor and most climate-vulnerable countries in the international climate negotiations is the climate window of the UK Department for International Development (DFID)’s Advocacy Fund.

About the Legal Response Initiative

The Legal Response Initiative (LRI) is a London-based charity (registration no 1147043) that works through a network of lawyers from law firms, barrister chambers and universities in various jurisdictions who provide free legal advice to developing countries and civil society observer organisations in connection with the international climate negotiations.

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