Ashden plans solutions hub for London Climate Action Week

Climate summits must focus on solutions

Craig Burnett

Senior Communications Officer

By Giles Bristow, Director of Programmes, Ashden

In Madrid, the COP25 climate talks are in full swing. Amid a maze of halls, theatres and pavilions there’s activity everywhere you look. Earnest debates and panel discussions, presentations, and chats in coffee queues and waiting areas. On the fringes, activists are urging politicians to raise their game – and face down the climate delayers.

But amid all the conference buzz, one key ingredient is not getting enough attention – proven, ready-to-scale solutions to the climate crisis. We know these exist. This summer we awarded 10 of the world’s best through the 2019 Ashden Awards, and our search for next year’s winners has already led us to hundreds of inspiring innovators.

These solutions must be at the heart of our efforts to fight the climate crisis. That’s why during London Climate Action Week in June, in the run up to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Ashden will host our first solutions hub. Our hub will inspire leaders and experts to build their COP26 efforts around practical, proven climate innovation.

This initiative will create a physical space where investors, funders, policymakers and the media can connect with the people and enterprises driving successful climate action. Visitors will see innovation up close, explore opportunities and barriers to progress, and get motivated for the fight ahead.

 COP26 will be the most important climate summit ever held. But, for the most part, key plans and targets will be decided long before the politicians arrive in Scotland next November. We can’t wish for miracles in Glasgow – we need COP26 to be the final act in a year of radical progress.

Why showcasing solutions matters

Why is it crucial we put solutions at the heart of major climate events? Because showcasing the very best innovation to a powerful audience means it can be replicated around the world at top speed. It’s vital we demonstrate the art of the possible – inspiring hope and showing stakeholders what can be achieved with investment, enthusiasm and knowledge.

Solutions also bring people together. Politicians, investors, businesses, trade unions and civil society often arrive at climate talks with radically different goals and priorities – putting proven solutions on the table gives them all something to work towards, tempting them beyond the red lines that threaten to derail progress.

We know that in the years ahead holistic approaches and systemic change, in particular, will be absolutely crucial. But these solutions can be hugely complex, demanding intense co-operation across sectors and organisations. Seeing them ‘in the flesh’ can kickstart the collaboration we need.

Energy, passion, grass-roots knowledge

And innovators can bring so much to the table – passion, a problem-solving ‘can-do’ attitude and real-world experience. This includes deep connection with customers and service users around the world. Their insights can help policymakers, academics and journalists understand how to drive down emissions while still meeting people’s needs and aspirations.

In many cases, they offer a channel to the daily lives of the world’s most marginalised people – who are often living with no or limited access to energy, but also most at risk from the effects of climate change.

We’ll work in collaboration with others to make our hub a reality, guided by a spirit of openness and inclusivity. We’ll need help from global partners, local volunteers and many others. Get in touch if you can join our efforts.

But it’s not too late to bring a focus on solutions to COP25. We call on everyone making eye-catching declarations in Madrid to consider the practical action that will make these plans a reality.

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