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The Rapid Partnering for Climate Action Programme

Radical collaboration to address the climate emergency

While there is a sense of urgency around all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the climate crisis has the unique and powerful potential to derail every other goal if the global community cannot act decisively in the next decade to halt emissions. At TPI, we have identified the need for a model of accelerated, ‘rapid-partnering’ that can be readily applied to mobilise collective action on the scale required.

Starting with the run-up to COP26 in November 2021, TPI is working with Partnerships 2030 and climate practitioners to develop a new accelerated partnership protocol that will support partners to initiate, implement and iterate climate action partnerships far faster.

The Rapid Partnering for Climate Action Programme

The initial inquiry phase began in August 2021 and aimed to:

  • Look ‘under the bonnet’ of how COVID-19 partnerships, as well as other examples of fast-partnering in areas such as humanitarian work- were able to form and deliver so rapidly, building on our initial work in this area.
  • Clarify the particular challenges faced by those working on climate action partnerships which will need to be considered in designing fast partnering tools (and which will differ from the rapid-onset emergency responses seen during the pandemic).
  • Establish a firm understanding of the partnering enabling environment and infrastructure required for rapid partnering for climate action.
  • Examine standard current partnering processes to understand the collective and individual organisational bottlenecks, understand what can be speeded up, and what might need to be bypassed entirely.
  • Develop a rapid partnering ‘protype’ process and approaches for climate action collaborations.
  • Share draft new approaches with climate practitioners, and capture feedback for further development and refinement of the protocol which will be freely available to all.

There are multiple ways to engage:

If you work on climate partnerships, we warmly invite you to be part of, and benefit from, the programme.

In the first phase of the programme, we invited climate practitioners to share their experiences of partnership working in order to better understand the blockages and accelerators for climate action collaboration via a short survey and a series of in-depth interviews. The survey is now closed, but you can access a recording of the presentation at the UN ECOSOC partnership forum in February 2022 as well as a pdf summary of the results.

Get in touch with Jenny Ekelund, our Programme Lead, with ideas or approaches you think we should consider. Perhaps you have an excellent case study of a climate partnership that got off the ground especially quickly, and you’d like to see it profiled, or you are working on complementary work and would like to discuss. We’re always keen to share! We’d like to capture a range of perspectives as we develop the protocol– so if you are involved in climate action (mitigation, adaptation, and resilience) partnerships at any level, from local to international- we’re keen to hear from you.

We held a virtual peer meeting in January 2022 for climate practitioners interested in hearing our initial findings and helping to shape the Rapid Partnering Protocol for Climate Action. Please contact Jenny if you are interested in taking part in similar events in the future and/or feeding back on the draft protocol ahead of full development and publication.

Are you a funder interested in accelerating effective partnering for climate action? Please do get in touch to discuss opportunities to work together in 2022.

Later stages of the programme will examine the overall enabling infrastructure for effective climate collaboration, from the way foundations and donors can de-risk and support rapid partnership development, to building the partnering skills to facilitate fast negotiation; from the platforms that can quickly convene the right partners, to the institutional changes organisations must make to be able to commit quickly and effectively.

“Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges the world has ever faced. How effectively businesses, governments and communities work together to meet established international commitments will determine the future of our planet.” 

World Economic Forum 

Reinventing existing partnering tools and approaches

In 2020 and 2021, spurred on by the COVID-19 crisis, we witnessed a shift in understanding of the interconnectedness between a prosperous economy, a stable society and a thriving environment and the need for widespread, all-of-society action to deliver transformational change. COVID-19 stimulated countless innovative collaborations – from the most local level (such as community groups partnering with shops to fill food banks) to the global (such as FCDO and Unilever’s £100M collaboration on handwashing). These new partnerships moved rapidly through, or completely bypassed, ‘normal’ partnering processes.

The urgency of the pandemic threat galvanised rapid innovation and problem-solving, while apparently reducing the barriers to collaboration. This same urgency must be applied to Paris-aligned partnerships, with consideration to how partnering mechanisms be adapted to the ‘slow-motion’ nature of the climate crisis and its long-term, systemic gravity. Early analyses of successful rapid partnerships such as Business Fights Poverty’s  case study of Kenya’s National Business Compact on Coronavirus: Fighting COVID in Kenya: A New Blueprint for Rapid Collaboration? suggest that the model is best suited to a rapid-onset emergency, but that there are elements that can be usefully applied to climate action partnerships.

Traditional partnering approaches are too slow in comparison with the urgency of the climate challenge and threat. TPI’s rapid partnering protocol for climate action will seek to reinvent existing partnering tools and approaches, combining them with other disciplines such as rapid prototyping, adaptive management and user-centric design to reflect the agility and unprecedented speed of collaboration required.

Alongside the protocols, we need to develop a pro-partnering enabling environment in which organisations optimize their internal processes and build a culture and mindset to support fast partnering, funders adjust the way they fund to reduce risk and incentivize rapid deployment, and in which potential collaborators can rapidly find each other.

The world remains way off target in staying within the 1.5° limit of the Paris Agreement…We need more ambition…We simply cannot allow the pandemic to keep us from working together…Although there will be challenges, we must adapt. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. 

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, February, 2021

About Partnerships 2030

Partnerships2030 is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is a national platform for promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSP). This platform supports the implementation of 2030 Agenda. Involved are the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Engagement Global – bengo.

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