Civic space for participation in climate policies

04. November 2020

In 2015, many countries, including Colombia, Georgia and Ukraine, agreed
on the Paris Agreement to limit global warming and its impacts. However, current national
commitments (Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs) are inadequate to keep the
rise in global temperature in this century well below 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Time
is running out, and rapid and far-reaching shifts across all sectors are required. Civil society
actors play a crucial role in developing and implementing climate policies because they act as
watchdogs and advocates for a fair socio-environmental transformation. The scope of their
activities and advocacy work ranges from raising awareness about climate change, building
capacity, supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation activities to conducting research,
developing strategies and measures, and influencing concrete climate policies.

The purpose of the study “Civic space for participation in climate policies in Colombia,
Georgia and Ukraine” was to investigate the environment and conditions for climate-related
participation, such as the legal framework for participation, as well as concrete practices
of participatory policy making in Colombia, Georgia and Ukraine. The analysis explores how
national civil society is being involved in political processes related to the Paris Agreement. The
focus thereby lies on organised groups, rather than individuals and the general public. Are civil
society organisations involved in the development of climate-relevant national plans, strategies
and other document? Are there good examples or good approaches of participation that enable
civil society actors to effectively influence national political processes and raise ambition in
climate matters? The study also identifies concrete country-specific barriers that hamper or
avoid meaningful, effective and long-term participation, and gives advice for overcoming these
barriers. Furthermore, the study examines selected examples of good practice in climate-related
participation from eight other countries around the world.

The full study can be downloaded here:

Larissa Donges, Fabian Stolpe, Franziska Sperfeld, Sarah Kovac (2020):
Civic space for participation in climate policies in Colombia, Georgia and Ukraine. Independent Institute for Environmental Issues. Berlin. ISBN 978-3-935563-42-0


The study is part of the project Strengthen Civil Society for the implementation of national climate policy. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

New Learning Package "Blue Gold - Our Drinking Water and Climate Change"

27. July 2020

The sixth learning package on environmental issues with the main topic “Blue Gold – Our Drinking Water and Climate Change” has been published. UfU in cooperation with the report project “Global Ideas” by Deutsche Welle (DW) developed the learning package # 6 on the topic of “drinking water”. It is available here. The learning package deals playfully with the precious, increasingly scarce raw material drinking water and the question of what we can do to ensure that everyone has access to clean drinking water?

“Global Ideas” is a multimedia reportage project by Deutsche Welle (DW) on the topics of climate and environmental protection and the conservation of biodiversity. With funding from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU), since 2009, DW has been producing TV reports, background reports, and web specials, in order to inform people around the world about exemplary protection projects and to inspire them to act.

For the new project section “Great Solutions – The Road from Paris” from 2017 to 2022, DW is striving to expand its educational work. Appropriate learning packages will be developed around selected key topics from the field of climate and environmental protection in order to get children and young people interested in environmental protection and to convey complex topics in an easily understandable manner. The offer is aimed to be for students between the ages of 12 and 16 worldwide and can be used by teachers and educational institutions free of charge in German, English and Spanish in classroom teaching as well as in homeschooling.

Together with the “Global Ideas” editorial team of Deutsche Welle, UfU will develop learning packages on various environmental issues by 2022. So far, five further learning packages have been published on the topics of “plastic”, “forest”, “green spaces in cities”, “food waste” and “pollinators”.

Green-blue infrastructure for climate adaptation in Vietnam

14. July 2020

Urban areas are both drivers of global warming and especially affected by its impacts. In this context, nature-based solutions (NBS), and as such the enhancement and expansion of green-blue infrastructure (GBI), are gaining importance in strategic urban planning as measures for climate adaptation and mitigation. Additionally, access to GBI is linked to issues of well-being, environmental justice, and human health.

The project GreenCityLabHuế aims to strengthen the climate resilience of the city of Hue (Thua Thien Hue Province, Central Vietnam) through nature-based solutions (NBS) with a focus on heat adaptation and air quality improvement. It will create a multidisciplinary research and experimental space to develop, test, visualise, discuss and implement ideas and concepts on the restoration and expansion of green-blue infrastructure (GBI), and thus for the promotion and implementation of NBS, in the urban area of Hue.

During its definition phase, the GreenCityLabHuế project compiled a typology on GBI elements and, based on this, first narratives and scenarios for GBI development in Hue, and conducted initial research on the current situation and preconditions for future developments of GBI in Hue, which were summarised in the project’s status quo report.

The report covers information on Hue’s urban development, current societal challenges from climate change, a status quo analysis of NBS in the city of Hue, the policy framework for NBS development, and social aspects for NBS development in Hue.

Hue is one of the oldest urban areas in Vietnam. The core city encompasses an area of about 71 km² and is one of the most densely populated Vietnamese cities. With about 12.9 m²/person, the green space per capita is comparatively high in Hue. However, green (and blue) spaces are not equally distributed across the city – with access to green areas being particularly limited in the historical centre of the city – giving rise to the implementation of new GBI elements.

A preliminary assessment of climate change impacts indicates generally warmer future conditions and an increasing total precipitation; the city of Hue will likely face low to moderate increases in near-surface air temperature (both annual averaged and extreme), and a moderate to high increase in precipitation. These estimated impacts will likely exacerbate existing environmental challenges in Hue including heat stress and flooding. Other pressing environmental issues, especially in the denser core city and university area, are air and noise pollution.

Based on co-creation and co-learning, the GreenCityLabHuế project suggests a typology of 64 GBI elements for consideration, including amongst others different types of private, commercial and institutional GBI elements, allotments and community gardens, recreational parks and gardens, and agricultural GBI. Whilst most of these key elements are common in both (Central) Vietnam and Germany (and Europe), some types were identified that are unique to the city of Hue, including blue-green gardens, garden cafes, and garden houses. This typology, in combination with an analysis of the relevant policy framework and a review of former, recent, and proposed projects for the implementation of NBS in Hue will serve as the basis for the modelling of land-use change scenarios for the city, and for the evaluation of the benefits of enhancing GBI across Hue.

Alongside the implementation of new green (and blue) areas, the necessity to preserve, maintain and improve existing elements of GBI has also been recognised. This includes, e.g., the maintenance of street tree density through annual tree planting campaigns, as particularly matured trees are under pressure due to climate change.

The enhancement of Hue’s GBI shall address the aforementioned environmental challenges by improving the provisioning of ecosystem services and by increasing the city’s resilience towards extreme weather events and climate change. However, also the economic and societal benefits of GBI are targeted, including the positioning of Hue as (eco-)tourism destination, the creation of job opportunities, establishment of competitive advantages over other Vietnamese cities, the improvement of quality of life through the creation of public spaces, and the increase of public awareness towards the benefits of green and blue elements as NBS.

More information about the project:

Inventory of green-blue infrastructure in the city of Hue derived from land use data from 2014 provided by DONRE and OpenStreetMap data

Combined trends in climatic indicators for the years 2050 and 2070, and for RCP scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 respectively

PlanetScope satellite image of the city of Hue on 20th February 2020 (A), the Earth observation indicator normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) calculated based on the PlanetScope image (B), vegetation classification based on the NDVI (C) and land use map (D)

Bicycle cinema training in Bulgaria and Romania

7. July 2020

As part of the BEACON initiative (Bridging European and Local Climate Actions), UfU is working with the National Trust Ecofund Bulgaria (NTEF) in Sofia and the Association Sistemul National de Reciclare a Bateriilor (SNRB) in Bucharest to include, among other things, the bicycle cinema in Bulgarian and Romanian schools.

Therefore, a training for the teams of both organizations and teachers of the participating schools took place on June 30th 2020 in Sofia and on July 2nd 2020 in Bucharest. In these trainings, UfU employees shared their experiences and technical knowledge about using bicycle cinema for environmental education in schools.

How does a bicycle cinema work? The muscle power of ten cyclists creates electrical energy that operates a laptop, a projector, and a sound system. This gives the audience a unique cinema experience without the need for additional power from the socket.

In addition to the cinema pleasure an educational purpose is also fulfilled. The bicycle cinema makes it possible to experience energy generation and to deal with sustainable energy generation in a very practical way. It also provides an opportunity to think about mobility: What are the advantages of bicycles compared to the cars as a means of transport in the city?

These and similar questions were discussed in the bicycle cinema training sessions and the participants were introduced to the functioning and implementation of a bicycle cinema event. In the future, the bicycle cinema will be used primarily in Bulgarian and Romanian schools to raise awareness of the topics of energy saving and climate protection.

2020 Call for Small-Scale Projects in Central Vietnam

20. Februrary 2020

Following the success of summer school in 2017, 2018 and the three small-scale projects in 2019, the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU) and Mientrung Institute for Scientific Research (MISR) will continue their collaboration in 2020 and provide funding for small-scale projects on climate change issues in Central Vietnam. We would like to increase action and mutual exchange among young participants in the field of climate initiatives and make a contribution to build the vision toward climate change action in this region. On our Vietnamese website, applicants find more detailed information on the project and the application process and can download the application form.

Vietnamese Delegation Learns about Air Quality Management in Germany

11. December 2019

In the project “Review and assessment of applicability of international best practices for air quality management in Vietnam”, UfU organised a one-week study tour for Vietnamese officials on the topic of air quality management in collaboration with Ecologic Institute and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The Vietnamese government is currently revising the Vietnamese Law of Environmental Protection (LEP). The revised version of the law is to include a separate chapter on air quality management. For the support of the drafting process of that chapter, the Vietnamese decision-makers seek exchange with experts in the field of air quality management. The participants on the study tour are directly involved in the legislative process and were curious to learn about both successes and challenges in the German experience.

The agenda of the study tour has been developed in close coordination with the participants of the study tour with a view to their primary interests and needs. The programme comprised visits to both scientific institutions (e.g. German Advisory Council on the Environment, German Environment Agency, UfU, Ecologic Institute) and political bodies (e.g. Federal Ministry for the Environment, Berlin Senate Administration, German Parliament) on both federal and state level. This allowed the participants to gain a broad understanding of air quality management in Germany. The speakers did not only present sucessful measured but also explained challenges and difficulties. The experts were happy to share their contact details to allow the participants of the delegation to raise more specific questions that might arise at a later point.

The participants followed the presentations closely and engaged in lively discussions afterwards. The Vietnamese officials showed high interest in the Germans regulations and institutions but also critically reflected the instruments and considered their transferability to the Vietnamese system. As the different experts covered a wide range of topics, many questions could be answered and the discussions stimulated new ideas.

The week was concluded with a workshop to concentrate the knowledge gained during the week and to reflect in what way the findings could be used in the legislative process. The participants also identified the areas in which they would like to deepen their knowledge. UfU, Ecologic Institute and GIZ handed over to the delegation the best practice analysis “Review and assessment of applicability of international best practices for air quality management in Vietnam“ that had previously been conducted as a part of this project. The participants were very happy witht he results of the study tour and declared to have gained important insights for their own legislative project.

Civil society participation in climate policies

9. December 2019

With representatives of civil society from various countries, UfU discussed opportunities and barriers of civil society participation in climate policies, as well as options to broaden civic space.

The two workshops took place within the Cumbre de los Pueblos and Sociedad Civil por la Acción Climática, the two alternative climate conferences in Santiago (Chile) organized by civil society groups from the region. Both conferences called for climate justice and emphasized that it always has to go along with social justice.

In the two workshops “Raising Ambition through Civil Society Participation: Broaden the spaces of civil society participation in climate policies”, participants determined that compared to standards for good participation in climate policies, the current participation processes offered by the government in their countries do not allow to plan climate policies in dialogue with a broader range of civil society actors. One of the main outcomes of the workshop was that the need to ratify the Escuazú Agreement (Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters) in more South-American countries as a crucial step to support climate-related public participation in the region. This conclusion turned also out to be one of the main claims of both alternative climate conferences.

Both workshops are part of the project ZIVIKLI, carried out together with Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND). While BUND attended COP25 in Madrid with two panel discussions, UfU decided to still realize the planned activities in Santiago, Chile.

Climate Justice in Latin America: UfU at Conference in Bogotá

03. Dezember 2019

On November 28 and 29, 2019, more than 200 representatives from civil society organisations (CSOs), academics, and environmental activists from Latin America and Europe met at an international Conference in Bogotá to discuss about climate change, climate justice, and international energy and climate policies. The conference was organised by our partner organisation Censat – Agua Viva within the framework of the project “Strengthening civil society participation in climate policy”. UfU also was represented at this event in the capital of Colombia.

In a variety of talks and panels, reasons and solutions for the global climate crisis, and recent developments in climate justice and energy transition in Latin America were presented and discussed. In particular, global debates in the context of the imminent UN Climate Conference (COP 25) in Madrid and their impacts on citizens and their living circumstances in Latin America were a major focus of the conference.

In a panel on “participation of civil society in climate ploicies”, UfU project manager Fabian Stolpe talked about the many years of experience of UfU in the field of citizen participation in environmental issues. Furthermore, he presented first results from a study on participation opportunities of civil society organisations in climate policies in Colombia, Georgia, and Ukraine, that is currently prepared by UfU.

The two-day event closed with the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of Censat – Agua Viva. For this, we express our sincerest congratulations!

New Project on Green Urban Development in Central Vietnam

31. October 2019

On October 24th, the GreenCityLab Hue had its solemn start during a kickoff event in the Huong Giang Hotel in Hue. Among project partners and a public at large the project and its backgrounds were presented and discussed.

The GreenCityLabHue has the objective to create a multi-level, multi-disciplinary space for research and experimentation to develop, visualize, evaluate and discuss ideas and concepts for the (re-)creation and expansion of green-blue infrastructure (GBI) in the city of Hue, Central Vietnam. Carried out by the Mientrung Institute in Hue in cooperation with the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues, nature-based solutions and GBI shall be further integrated into Hue’s city planning in order to help to protect various ecosystem services.

Besides the presentation of the planned project, Dr. Cung Trong Cuong (Thua Thien Hue Institute for Development Studies) and Professor Tran Anh Tuan (Faculty of Environmental Science, Hue University of Sciences) gave an overview over the current situation of Hue’s urban development and climate related threads.

Contributions from the speakers as well as comments from the audience underlined the important role of the promotion of green and blue infrastructure for the development of Hue City. Whereby one comment pointed out, that the concept of GBI is not a new concept to the city of Hue, rather a new term for the maintenance of green and blue areas that always was done with a high priority and should be strengthened in the future. One of the major challenges will be the integration of the numerous related stakeholder including the public on the one hand and to pave the way from theoretical knowledge into action on the ground on the other hand. The next step will be to develop a common understanding and shared definition of Green blue infrastructure for the context of Hue.

After the kick off meeting in Hue, the GreenCityLabHue project was also presented during the German Science Day, organised by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Embassy in Hanoi on October 30th. There, beside a presentation of the GreenCityLab Hue project to further German and Vietnamese Scientists, it was also discussed during a poster session. The German Science Day also gave the opportunity to exchange experience and knowledge and to learn about other projects in Vietnam that are funded by the BMBF. The German ambassador highlighted in his opening speech the importance of German-Vietnamese cooperation in environmental science and Vietnam’s Vice Minister for the Environment expressed the need for international research projects to tackle the challenges of climate change and other environmental issues.

For further project information, please click here.

International experts discuss the socio-economic opportunities of the global energy transition

21. October 2019

Scientists, decision-makers and experts from more than 15 countries exchanged views on the social and economic opportunities of an ambitious deployment of renewable energies in electricity production and supply during the conference Climate Opportunity 2019: Co-Benefits for Just Energy Futures taking place at October 15 and 16, 2019 in Berlin.

More than 15 studies about Co-Benefits of renewable energies in related sectors like water, air quality, health, energy access and security, jobs, prosperity and local value creation have been presented during the conference, as well as tools for the calculation of these Co-Benefits, and approaches to better include them into policy making.

The Knowledge Commons Exhibition, which displays newest result, tools and approaches for policy processes will be available online soon. The Climate Opportunity 2019 conference was carried out under the project COBENEFIT.

At the second conference day, UfU organized the deep dive workshop Communication and Participation. Here, international experts discussed how participation can contribute to a better consideration of socio-economic Co-Benefits in policy planning. Experts also exchanged views on how the multiple opportunites of the global energy transition can be communicated better.

Nguy Thi Khanh, Director of the Vietnamese Think Tank GreenID, illustrated this by using the communication of energy policy in Vietnam as an example.  Especially interesting was also the contribution of Tasneen Essop, Commissioner of the National Planning Commission of South Africa. She explained how a just drop-out of coal in South Africa is planned by a participatory process.