5 for the Climate - Civil Society Participation in Climate Policies

27. May 2021

“5 for the climate” – A digital week on civil society involvement in climate policy (14 – 18 June 2021)

Civil society involvement is still not common practice and in many countries around the world civic space is increasingly restricted. However, civil society organisations are key stakeholders in developing and implementing climate policies. They hold an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise and are well connected with local communities who play a crucial role in fighting the climate crisis.

As the need for action is greater than ever, we need to learn from experiences and cases of success from around the world. “5 for the climate” is an international exchange and networking week initiated to jointly examine if and how civil society can participate in climate policy making. Analyses of barriers that hamper involvement will help to identify instruments and strategies of actions that can help improve conditions and possibilities of participation in climate matters.

We aim to connect civil society organizations and actors, think tanks, project implementers and other relevant stakeholders in the field of climate. Together, we will reflect on forms and opportunities of civil society participation, share our experiences of fighting climate change from a civil society perspective, explore current good practices of civil society participation, and we will develop strategies to secure civil society’s participation for more ambitious climate policies.

Formats during the week

We offer different kinds of input and exchange opportunities in various working and networking formats. The program is filled with:


  • interactive workshop sessions (90 minutes)

to jointly work on pressing questions of civil society engagement and look into frameworks, visions and conditions for involving civil society.

  • deep thinking sessions (60 minutes input + Q&A)

that give you the chance to listen to relevant findings of researchers and practitioners who dig deep in the field of civil society engagement in climate policy and beyond.

  • hands on sessions (60 min presentation + discussion)

in which we take you to places of real civil society engagement. Listen to first-hand success stories, learn about fights for climate justice and action on the ground -particularly in the field of climate and energy.

  • panel debates (90 minutes debate + discussion)

in which a diverse set of exciting speakers discusses questions such as how the Covid-19 crisis affects the quality of participatory formats and influences access to political processes.

  • interactive working group sessions (45 minutes)

in which we invite you researchers and practitioners to jointly elaborate basic requirements for meaningful participation. What are criteria of participatory processes that are perceived as transparent, inclusive, at eye level, enabling and continuous? We are going to look into those 5 elements once a day in order to further define their meanings and understand their implications.

Networking opportunities

Even in times when we collaborate on screens, we need spaces to get together informally. We can happily offer you two easy networking formats which you are invited to make use of:

  • The virtual Lounge

in which you can find other like-minded talking partners, join ongoing small-group discussions on networking tables or create one yourself and invite other for exchange.

  • Booths (virtual stands)

which you can get to represent your organization and/or provide materials – e.g. the latest release of your project. Booths are perfect to exchange one-on-one and for in-depth discussions, to build synergies and start collaborations.

Detailed Program and Registration

Online Course “Registration of Contaminated Sites” now accessible

26. May 2021

The registration of (potentially) contaminated sites in a cadaster is an important step to gain an overview over soil contaminations. Thus, a cadaster is an important tool to plan and carry out necessary securing and decontamination activities at contaminated sites to prevent impacts on public health originating from these areas.

The Online Course “Registration of Contaminated Sites” equips government officials, civil servants, students and other experts alike with the necessary knowledge to carry out the registration of contaminated sites.

  • The Vietnamese version of the online course is exclusively for civil servants, government officials and other experts in Vietnam. With the successful finalization of the online course, the participants gain an official certificate.
  • The English version of the online course is open for experts, students and interested citizens alike.

The course presents technologies to identify and manage contaminated sites, which can also be applied in other countries than Vietnam: This includes a deeper insight into the recording process of potentially contaminated sites, in particular into the necessary prerequisites, preparation, individual research and recording activities to identify and detain contaminated sites. A special focus is placed on the survey of craft villages, industrial zones and other relevant areas. A Case Study Section introduces examples of (former) contaminated sites in Germany and the securing or decontamination measures applied.

The English version of the Online Course Registration of Contaminated Sites can be accessed at UfU interaktiv.

The Online Course “Registration of Contaminated Sites” was developed within the project “Practical handling of data of a register of contaminated sites using the example of Bắc Ninh province (CapaViet2)”, which is financed by the „Exportinitiative Umwelttechnologien“ of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Study: Shaping climate policy with civil society?!

8. February 2021

Shaping ambitious climate policy with civil society? In a comprehensive study, UfU has investigated whether and how civil society organizations are involved in national climate policy processes in Colombia, Ukraine and Georgia. The analysis addresses the political and legal framework for participation, existing state and civil society structures, and concrete participation processes in the three countries. Among other things, UfU investigated the extent to which environmental organizations were able to contribute their positions to the current elaboration/revision of national climate protection targets (Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs). The detailed evaluation scheme developed by UfU makes it possible to investigate framework conditions for participation and concrete participation processes in other countries as well. Together with the project partners and local actors, various obstacles were identified that impede effective participation of civil society. The study derives country-specific recommendations on how participation in climate issues can be improved and consolidated in the future. In addition, the study presents good practice examples for participation in climate policy from eight other countries that can point the way forward.

The study makes clear that improvements are needed at various levels to ensure that civil society actors are heard on environmental and climate issues. In the cases studied, it is primarily procedural barriers that impede an exchange of views, interests and experiences between state and civil society actors and thus a joint solution finding. With regard to the participation formats analysed, three types of deficits can be identified above all: first, a lack of implementation of the participation legislation; second, only a low level of participation; and third, insufficient consideration of the results of the participation process. Much more profound than these deficits of the participation processes, however, is the increasing curtailment of civic space, i.e. the scope of action of civil society, in many countries in recent years, which restricts the participation opportunities of environmental activists. In addition to restrictions on civil society’s ability to act due to the establishment of elaborate administrative and approval processes and government restrictions on the acceptance of (foreign) donations, as well as restrictions on freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly, harassment, physical violence, criminalization of activists, arbitrary arrests, and assassinations also lead to a reduction of civil society’s space to act in many states.

The full study can be found 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

Click here for the short version.

In addition, individual country reports for Colombia, Georgia and Ukraine have been written and translated into the local languages:

Country report Colombia, English and Spanish

Country report Georgia, English and Georgian

Country report Ukraine, English and Ukrainian

The study is part of the project “Strengthening Civil Society in National Climate Policy“, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

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).

Visions for green urban development in Hue (Vietnam)

2. November 2020

On 31st October, 2020, the GreenCityLabHuế project organized the first stakeholder workshop to discuss the scenario development for the implementation of nature-based solutions in the city of Hue. The workshop was organized with the technical guidance from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HUB) and the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU) and hosted by the Vietnamese partners, the Mientrung Institute for Scientific Research (MISR), the Thua Thien Hue Institute for Development Studies (HueIDS) and the Faculty of Architecture, Hue University of Sciences (HUSC), at the A1 Auditorium of the Hue University of Sciences.

The stakeholder workshop forms part of the co-design and co-learning process to develop future scenarios for green and blue infrastructure development in Hue. It is crucial to adapt important steps of the modelling process to local conditions, and to select the sites for nature-based solution (NBS) modelling at site-level in the following research and development project phase. The team of the GreenCityLabHuế project would like to thank all stakeholders for their support and contributions.

At the beginning of the stakeholder workshop, MSc. Hoang Thi Binh Minh (MISR) and Dr. Nguyen Vu Minh (HUSC) presented some key results of the definition phase of the GreenCityLabHuế project, including (1) Benefits of NBS for the city of Hue, (2) a typology of GBI elements and ecological performance, (3) a categorization of land-use classes and an inventory of GBI, (4) documents addressing the development of Hue city towards a central government city, (5) documents addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation of the Thua Thien Hue Province, (6) a map of key actors for NBS development in Hue city, (7) and an evaluation of the awareness of climate change and social aspects for NBS in Hue city. The presentation was followed by several discussion rounds were these questions were addressed:

  • Are the proposed interventions realistic and acceptable?
  • What visions regarding NBS development do the participants have for Hue? What would the participants generally change in the developed scenarios? What elements of NBS should be part of the future scenarios?
  • Should measures and interventions be differentiated between different parts of Hue city within a given scenario?
  • Are there spatial zones where no interventions and measures should be implemented or where specific measures are not allowed?
  • Is there more detailed information available on anticipated rates of conversion (as well as locations of planned expansions)?

In the workshop 20 stakeholders from different relevant institutions and organizations in Hue participated: the Department of Planning and Investment, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Environmental Protection Agency-DONRE, the Land Administration officer of Huong So ward, the Greenery Company, HEPCO, HueWaco, the Hue Monuments Conservation Center, the Institute of Construction Planning, the Faculty of Environmental Sciences –HUSC, the Faculty of Land Resources and Agricultural Environment-Hue University of Forestry and Agriculture, the Elderly Association, the Institute of Resources and Environment-Hue University, the Institute of Public Health Research, the Happiness School Programme, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, the Beekeeping Association, and some young people living and working in the city of Hue.

Here you can find further information on the project: www.greencitylabhue.com

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: www.greencitylabhue.com

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.