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PROJECT: Understanding climate diplomacy

Project Reference: ADGL-0021

Recent Update

E3G, have published a report Understanding Climate Diplomacy – Building diplomatic capacity and systems to avoid dangerous climate change, with CDKN support. The report defines climate diplomacy as encompassing a rich understanding of how to shape the national interest debate, through engaging new constituencies that can leverage change. The aim was to provide practitioners of climate diplomacy, especially those inside government, with a shared analytical and conceptual basis to underpin more effective cooperation between Ministries of Environment, Energy, Foreign Affairs, Trade, Economy and Finance. Ultimately the publication seeks to help fully integrate climate change into “whole of government” decision-making and through this manage climate risk more successfully.

Download Understanding Climate Diplomacy – Building diplomatic capacity and systems to avoid dangerous climate change

Project summary

CDKN contracted E3G, a UK independent not-for-profit environmental organisation, to conduct a review to understand how climate change can be effectively integrated into foreign policy and to recommend what role CDKN can play.

While climate change has long been discussed in the context of foreign policy, it has not always been integrated into wider diplomatic efforts especially in developing countries. An emphasis on climate diplomacy could potentially be a significant vehicle for developing countries to influence international climate change negotiations. However there is limited consideration of how to support diplomats, negotiators and policy makers in developing countries to bring climate change to the foreground in foreign policy, and pursue effective international action beyond the UNFCCC. In particular in developing countries there is lack of knowledge and guidance on how the integration of such issues can be achieved, and a lack of capacity and training to be able to integrate national and international climate change priorities into foreign policy.

The project was made up of two work streams. The first conducted a review of climate diplomacy and the second hosted a London workshop on climate diplomacy, bringing together diplomats, negotiators and climate diplomacy experts.

Specifically, the overall objectives of the review and workshop were threefold:

  1. Increase understanding of how to integrate climate change into foreign policy.
  2. Begin to build the knowledge and capacity of developing country negotiators and diplomats in climate diplomacy and how climate diplomacy can be fostered and enhanced at the national level, in the negotiations and through other forums.
  3. Make recommendations to CDKN, in terms of actions and strategies in the future to further support decision-makers in designing and delivering climate compatible development through effective foreign policy design and implementation.

The key activities under this project were to:


Literature review and analysis of country best practice and challenges on integrating climate change into foreign policy. E3G Political Economy review of relevant case study countries, and selected CDKN deep engagement countries. This involved understanding national level factors influencing the effective carrying out of climate diplomacy internationally as well as identification of international opportunities for climate diplomacy


The London workshop took place in April 2013 to serve three main purposes; the first being to communicate the emerging findings of the review. Secondly CDKN would like to provide a space for diplomats, academics and other climate diplomacy practitioners to air their views, and give greater insight on the integration of climate change into foreign policy. Finally, the event would serve to develop new and productive working relationships in the climate diplomacy community.


–      Briefing paper to summarise lessons learnt and good practice in climate diplomacy

CDKN funding: £59,000

Client: Developing country climate diplomacy community


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Project Highlights


FEATURE: The diplomatic way to avoid dangerous climate change

A new report on climate diplomacy aims to help governments integrate climate change into decision-making across all policy areas. The report was published by E3G, a UK-based not-for-profit company specialising in climate change, with CDKN’s support. E3G’s Senior Policy Advisor, Liz Gallaghar, explains.