Looking back at the Creative Climate Collective at COP27 in Egypt

In collaboration with What Design Can Do (WDCD), the Creative Industries Fund NL initiated the Creative Climate Collective – a group of 18 architects, designers and makers from Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, the Netherlands and South Africa - to advocate for design that advances action towards climate justice. Between 10 and 12 November 2022, the collective took part in panel discussions, presentations and hosted an exhibition space at the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) held in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt with the aim of building alliances with other stakeholders, exchanging ideas, and forging connections across geographies and sectors.

No continent has avoided the devastating effects of extreme weather this year – from extreme drought and flooding on the African continent, to forest fires in North America and Australia, heatwaves in Europe and floods in Pakistan – with catastrophic consequences. This year’s COP27 brought together thousands of policymakers, civil society organizations, local communities, and private sector actors in a 12-day-summit to coordinate efforts to scale up global action on climate change.

There was a lot up for discussion: from the relationship between finance and fossil fuels, to how countries can shore up their adaptation efforts or begin to make reparations. Creative innovators can play a critical role in actioning systemic and sustainable transitions and efforts to halt the climate breakdown. Yet, (social) design perspectives are largely absent from policy discussions and the spaces where decisions are being made with losses for the regeneration of future environments.

Designer-architect Rianne Makkink explaining 'WaterSchool', a design project that looks into the possibilities of building a holistic school revolving around water.
At COP27 the Creative Climate Collective showcased their projects and practices under the themes of water, community, material and new media.

In the panel discussion Design as a key for change convened with What Design Can Do, participants from the Creative Climate Collective shared examples of different approaches to and perspectives on designing for climate action. For some this means exploring the role of new media in analyzing non-human perspectives, for others collaborating with local communities to build socio-ecological corridors in an effort to conserve natural forests in Colombia. Within the Creative Climate Collective many of the creatives are working within community-driven projects that focus on local action. Projects showcased by the collective included high performance prosthetics and wheelchairs developed from fishnets and PET bottles collected in Mozambique; an alternative educational platform focusing on historic and precarious urban landscapes, spatial justice and climate change in Egypt, and an indigo farming cooperative in Mali, among others.

Panel ‘Design as a key for change’ with Rianne Makkink, Shaakira Jassat, Marta Uetela, Salma Belal and Olivier de Gruijter, 5 of the 8 selected participants of the Open Call Climate Action x Design.
Architect Salma Belal: 'Instead of rebuilding everything, we can work with the existing industrial systems and have them adapt to combat the current climate crisis.'
Henk Ovink, special envoy for International Water Affairs, gave a talk about the connective capacity that water and design have in common.
During the workshop a discussion started about how to build trust from policy-decision makers as well as local communities to implement alternatives.
Getting to know each other and co-developing the shared mission of the Creative Climate Collective.
The Creative Climate Collective together with employees of What Design Can Do, the Creative Industries Fund NL and Henk Ovink, special envoy for International Water Affairs.

Creative Climate Collective
This summer, the Creative Industries Fund NL and What Design Can Do jointly launched the Open Call Climate Action x Design. The advisory committee selected 8 projects from 26 proposals submitted.

Find here more information about the 18 participants of the Creative Climate Collective. The platforms World of Topia and koozArch have also published a series of articles.

Photo's: Emad Abdellatif and Yasmin Kursun