Workshops that build climate negotiators' capacity: European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) training and support programme

November 2015 to July 2020

As part of efforts to create a more level playing field for government delegations taking part in global climate negotiations, IIED led a training and support programme that focused on building the capacity of UNFCCC negotiators from vulnerable developing countries, including the least developed countries. IIED is currently seeking support for the next phase of this work.

Participants of the 2014 ecbi pre-COP training workshop for LDC negotiators, Lima

Participants of the 2014 ecbi pre-COP training workshop for LDC negotiators, Lima (Photo: IIED)

The European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi), launched in 2005, aims to support the international climate change negotiations by building and sustaining capacity among developing country negotiators, and by fostering trust between both developed and developing country negotiators.

In the most recent phase, IIED took a leading role in ecbi, alongside Oxford Climate Policy and the Legal Response International. We delivered its training and support programme, which complements our work with the least developed countries in the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.

The programme’s goal was to provide support to negotiators and national policymakers from vulnerable developing countries, to improve their knowledge of the UNFCCC decision-making process, so they could engage in the negotiations effectively and share learning related to national level implementation.

In July 2020, IIED published a review of the programme, reflecting on the lessons learned and how the work evolved.

IIED is currently seeking support for the next phase of this work. Contact Brianna Craft ( for more information.

What did IIED do?

The ecbi training and support programme offered:

  • Regional workshops

  • Pre-COP workshops, and

  • Bursaries for junior negotiators.

Regional workshops

Over five years, we held 17 regional training workshops, attended by more than 300 participants. These fostered collaboration in targeted regions and helped ensure climate change issues became part of mainstream thinking across government ministries. They let negotiators meet, exchange views and – if they wished – plan together.

But as well as negotiators, parliamentarians and representatives from ministries such as finance and planning could attend to get up to speed on climate change negotiations and their implementation.

Since 2016, ecbi worked in partnership with local collaborators to organise the workshops, who also contributed to shaping the strategy for the training and support programme. We held workshops for Francophone Africa in Senegal (201620172018 and 2019), hosted by ENDA energie (French site), and for Anglophone Africa in Tanzania (2016), hosted by EPMS; in Senegal (20172018) and in Ethiopia (2019), hosted by ENDA energie.

Our Asia Pacific workshops were held in Bangladesh (2016), hosted by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), in Sri Lanka (2017 and 2018), hosted by Janathakshan, and in Nepal (2019), hosted by Prakriti Resources Centre (PRC).

To support each of the regional training workshops and maximise the participants’ learning experience, we produced a series of tailored guides on the negotiations. These were produced using simple, clear language and also produced in French to ensure their accessibility.

With experience, it became clear that participants benefited more by learning from regional experts, they could better practice their negotiation skills in a real-life like setting, and that participants were able to consolidate their learning through continued participation.

Pre-Conference of the Parties (pre-COP) workshops

The training and support programme organised pre-COP workshops to support negotiators from vulnerable developing countries to come together a day or so before the annual UNFCCC sessions.

"We had better communication between the LDC Group and other groups, and better understanding of the LDC Group's key messages by its members as a result of the support from ecbi" – feedback on the training and support programme

The negotiators identified key issues for their countries and groups that were then discussed at the session and debated how they could help the rest of their group influence negotiating outcomes. To expand the expertise available, key representatives from other important ministries who participated in the regional workshops were also invited to these pre-COP workshops.

Bursaries for junior negotiators

The ecbi training and support programme also offered bursaries that supported junior negotiators in becoming subject specialists. These bursaries helped selected junior negotiators from countries such as Sudan, Tanzania, Mali, Lesotho, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Malawi and Nepal attend the UNFCCC negotiations, and helped them become experts in the negotiating process.

Bursary recipients were chosen based on recommendations from senior negotiators and a letter by the bursary applicant explaining their motivations to engage in the UNFCCC process. After each meeting they attended, the junior negotiators wrote a report that as sent to the other fellow negotiators.

Bursary recipients were instrumental in making (or helped make) developing countries more effective in the UNFCCC negotiations. For example, several ecbi bursary holders went on to become members of the core team of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group. There, they advised the LDC Group chair and group members in their chosen negotiating themes.

In 2012, Sumaya Zakieldeen, an ecbi bursary recipient, was nominated for the UNFCCC Adaptation Committee as the only representative of the LDC Group. Gebru Jember Endalew, a bursary recipient and a LDC core team member, became the LDC chair for 2017-18.

In its recent phase, ecbi has provided support specifically for women bursary holders to address the gender imbalance at the negotiations.

A series of videos show the workshops and feature interviews with LDC Group members and bursary recipients. These can be watched below or on IIED's YouTube channel.

Addressing the gender gap in climate policymaking

As part of IIED’s efforts to close the gender gap at the UN climate negotiations, we encourage least developed countries to send an even number of women and men to our training workshops, and to attend the climate negotiations.

After five years of workshops, we demonstrated that the ecbi training and support programme  improved the gender balance of the negotiations process overall, increasing women’s chances to represent their countries at the international climate negotiations. Each year we attract more participants to our workshops and so far have achieved an average ratio of 43% women to 57% men.

In addition, ecbi launched a pilot mentorship scheme that paired junior women negotiators with experienced delegates from developed and developing countries. The initiative provided individualised learning and support beyond scheduled sessions, and improved the abilities, confidence and network of junior women negotiators.


Pocket guide to technology under the UNFCCC, Brianna Craft, Fred Onduri (2020), Pocketbook

Negotiating cooperation under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, Axel Michaelowa, Aglaja Espelage, Benito Müller (2019), Research report

ecbi 2019 regional training workshop report – South and Southeast Asia, Doma Tshering Sherpa, Anju Sharma (2019), Event report

Pocket guide to the UNFCCC, Joanna Depledge (2019), Pocketbook

ecbi 2019 regional training workshop report – Anglophone Africa, Yonas Gebru, Anju Sharma (2019), Event report

ecbi 2019 regional training workshop report – Francophone Africa, Yishak Elias, Anju Sharma (2019), Event report

Pocket guide to adaptation under the UNFCCC, Anju Sharma, Sara Venturini (2019), Pocketbook 

ecbi pre-COP24 training workshop, Anju Sharma (2018), Workshop report

ecbi regional training workshop report – Francophone Africa, Anju Sharma (2018), Event report

ecbi regional training workshop report – Anglophone Africa, Anju Sharma (2018), Event report

ecbi regional training workshop report – South and Southeast Asia, Navam Niles, Anju Sharma (2018), Event report

Pre-COP training workshop 2017, Anju Sharma (2017), Workshop report

Pocket guide to capacity building for climate change, Anju Sharma (2017), Report

Regional training workshop Francophone Africa, Anju Sharma (2017), Workshop report

Pocket guide to transparency under the UNFCCC, Harro van Asselt, Romain Weikmans, J Timmons Roberts, Anju Sharma (2017), Pocketbook

Regional training workshop anglophone Africa, Anju Sharma (2017), Workshop Report

Regional training workshop south and Southeast Asia, Navam Niles (2017), Workshop Report

Pocket guide to the Paris Agreement, Anju Sharma, Christoph Schwarte, Benito Müller, Achala Abeysinghe, Subhi Barakat (2016), ECBI Pocketbook | en français

Additional resources

Review of lessons learned from five years of the ecbi training and support programme

A guide to transparency under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, Achala Abeysinghe, Subhi Barakat, Yamide Dagnet, Gebru Jember Endalew, Bubu Pateh Jallow, Camilla H More, Tshewang Dorji, Cleo Verkuijl (2017), IIED Toolkit

Provisions for support to Least Developed Countries: facilitating the implementation of the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement, Rebecca Byrnes, Stella Gama, Mamadou Honadia, Bubu Pateh Jallow, Marek Soanes, Priyanka Teeluck, Janna Tenzing (2017), IIED Toolkit

Becoming a UNFCCC delegate: what you need to know, Janna Tenzing (2016), IIED Toolkit | en français 

Pre-COP Training Workshop 2016, Anju Sharma (2016), Workshop Report

Pre-COP Training Workshop 2015 (PDF), Anju Sharma (2015), Workshop Report

Climate change negotiations terminology: the pocket guide, Achala Abeysinghe, Caroline Prolo, Janna Tenzing (2015), IIED Toolkit | en français


International Climate Initiative (IKI)


Oxford Climate Policy

Legal Response Initiative

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