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How might we make convening on climate action more accessible, inclusive and activated?

September 27, 2023
Anna Adlard
Anna Adlard

Thoughts on Climate Week NYC 2023

I’ve been working in climate action for a while now, but last week was my first time at Climate Week NYC. Most of the headlines have already flooded your feed. There was a new sense of urgency. There were breakthrough moments. There was much-needed conversation about nature. There was a loud push on moving away from fossil fuels. This is all encouraging, and it was a reflection of a movement that is more energized and honest than ever before.

But I still walked away with a sense of missed opportunities for a week like this. We can do better, and it feels important that we do. So, how might we?


What no one tells you about Climate Week is that it tends to be invite-only. It’s true that there are many public events, but the most sought-after events are highly exclusive. It’s a who’s-who, and you need to know someone to get an invite. This perpetuates people in power talking to...other people in power.

How might we make events like these more accessible? (And no, recording your event doesn’t count, sorry.) More people need to be in the room, at the table, in face-to-face conversations.

How might we do that? There are so many creative ways to do this. For starters, we might get into the habit of a “get one, give one” with high-profile events. For every space you get, you give one to someone who would not typically be invited but would offer incredible perspective. I imagine young activists, SMBs, artists, marginalized communities, and many more in the mix.


Let’s get more intentional about designing events for cross-connection. That means mashing up groups that might not regularly talk to each other. That means breaking down siloes. That means passing the mic.

As just one example, there were dozens of events last week dedicated to Scope 3, but very few of them had suppliers and SMBs on the panel, in the room, at the table.

In our work, there have been many times when I’ve had the chance to interview implementers. They’re usually lower on the totem pole, or further upstream in the supply chain. There's so much to learn when we talk to people who are actually doing the work. If we overlook critical perspectives, we risk getting it wrong.


Last week, there was a lot of TALK about how we need more action.  I did have the chance to join a super-activated event last week, and it was energizing to be workshop-ing ideas with a diverse group of people. But this kind of experience is an anomaly. How might we make it the norm?

Let’s use every opportunity while we’re all in one place together to DO something.  Let’s get intentional, cross-connected groups in a room together to workshop, make decisions, make progress.

I think many of us in this space are beyond ready for activation. So, let's design for it. We can create the conditions for more talking, or we can create the conditions for activation. It's up to us!


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