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FEATURE: Luke Worthington, CDKN’s new Chief Operating Officer, on climate change, democracy…and athletics

CDKN’s Chief Operating Officer, Luke Worthington, has worked all over the world, and is well-placed to share insights on climate compatible development. After five years as a British Army officer, including an infantry tour of Basra, and four years in PwC Government consulting,  Luke joined PwC’s International Development practice. In this role, Luke has worked on a range of UK and Dutch-funded programmes in Africa and Asia. He became part of the CDKN team in 2012 as the Team Leader for support to the Government of Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy policy.  Having returned from Addis Ababa to PwC’s London offices, Luke recently worked on the commercial negotiations for DFID’s Girls’ Education Challenge Programme and has now taken up the post of CDKN’s Chief Operating Officer. Mairi Dupar poses some questions.

You have had a varied and interesting career that has taken in army and civilian life and many assignments in the UK and overseas. What stirred your passion for international development work?

I enjoy working with diverse teams from a variety of cultures that are delivering in challenging environments.  I have been fortunate to lead highly skilled and dedicated teams on international assignments throughout my career. Bringing together local commitment with international expertise and strong programme delivery has the power to deliver sustainable results.

Some of your early assignments for the British and Dutch aid agencies were focused on the security sector – do you see links between this and your current work on climate change?

Positive climate change action and climate compatible development (CCD) outcomes through policy and planning require strong national democracies.  Whether in Iraq (security sector stabilisation) or Burundi (security sector development) the goal has been demilitarisation and civil oversight which then enables a national co-ordinated approach to challenges such as climate change.

Most recently, you have returned from Ethiopia where you were advising the government on their Green Growth and Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy.  In your view, what opportunities does a low-carbon, climate resilient pathway offer Ethiopia? 

Comparatively, Ethiopia already has a low carbon economy but by investing in policies and programmes to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as fertilisation techniques and manufacturing processes, Ethiopia will increase the opportunity for catalytic development.  If these policies make economic sense in their own right – regardless of avoided or reduced emissions – then they are more likely to be sustainable and it’s a win/win situation.  Ethiopia should play to its key strengths to bring in much needed investment from sectors such as tourism, agriculture, hydro electric energy…and world class endurance athletes (I’m probably biased here as an amateur athlete!)

What are going to be some of the major challenges for Least Developed Countries like Ethiopia to meet their aspirations for economic growth and to do so in a climate-friendly way?

You need cross-party consensus, based on clear vision and championing from the national executive. What gets in the way after this are issues like corruption, a lack of transparency, accountability and overly bureaucratic or constrictive economic practices that reduce the opportunities for local entrepreneurs to grow green businesses. These issues are not limited to the developing world though.

What are you looking forward to in the role of CDKN’s Chief Operations Officer?

I am excited to be joining the management team of a global alliance that exists to address the issues surrounding climate change and poverty in the developing world. To achieve our ambitions we need to bring together the operational strengths of our alliance members across our regions.  I’m keen that we share operational lessons to enable us to be greater than the sum of our parts. I’m always open to conversations with anyone about CDKN’s programme, so do get in touch.

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