Concepts to Remember for Future DPI/NGO Conferences:

We encourage other DPI conferences to pursue similar efforts. This may not be possible for every
conference; but participants wishing to do so will find the process very rewarding. The work is
also time-consuming, and an endeavor requiring patience and perseverance. Merely getting all of
the participants to use the same word processing or bibliographic format can be a challenge, to
say nothing of difficulties in linking many participants with a myriad of backgrounds, cultures and
languages from across the globe. In our own experience, we discovered that in certain cases,
some participants strongly disagreed with others, and discussions became emotional. Harnessing
that energy, however, helped us to remember that managed passion is a strength. The key was
to stay focused on the fact that we are all in the same crisis and that it is far more important to
build bridges between divergent beliefs than to argue. In the end, Climate Caucus became a true
community of partners.
The dramatic “big government” recommendation from the fresh water working group is a good
example of a creative result. We knew it was controversial and that not everyone in the outside
world would support it. Some in the fresh water working group were opposed. However, the goal
of Climate Caucus was not to simply present ideas that everyone would agree on; but rather to
galvanize a wide spectrum of NGOs to take action, to team together, to experiment, and to build
new ideas. New, creative concepts, even if not accepted by all, can pave the way for sustainable
solutions acceptable to the vast majority of nations and peoples. This example should be a lesson
for all future conference reports. The Tipping Points and Ego to Eco working groups are also
good examples of thinking outside the box, and they offered philosophical foundations for future
concrete actions – the point being that the subject of climate change itself must be part of our
everyday philosophy, a glue that binds differing approaches to the science.
It is important to remember that this effort was volunteer-based. During the 2007 Conference the
participants chose many topics they felt should be addressed in the Report. We then reached
back to the same community to enlist volunteers to lead the individual working groups which
would develop the report chapters. Because building working groups and writing chapters can be
a laborious and time-consuming process, future conferences should not expect as broad a
participation in drafting and editing as in the calling for papers. Nonetheless, building thirteen
very active working groups was a major achievement, especially in light of the fact that well over
one hundred people participated in this effort from across the globe – from New Delhi to Boston,

 

even some who were not able to attend the DPI conference at all. We remain optimistic that the
number of participants in Climate Caucus will continue to increase, and since this project came
from our partnership with the NGO/DPI Executive Committee and CONGO, that those coalitions
will benefit as well.
The Report itself was never intended to be the final goal. It was only a tool for networking and
solution building. As was stated at the outset of this project, it should be assumed that no chapter
would be fully completed in 2008 – given that climate change is an evolving problem. Future
conferences wanting post-conference exercises would do well to adopt the same approach.
Therefore, we ask the reader to understand that each chapter is the starting point of a networked
conversation whose participants will join and depart over time as the topics and issues warrant.
In 2009, with more focus on networking and somewhat less on writing, the Editorial Working
Group will reconvene, with the objective of expanding the list of topics, as well as encouraging
each existing team to continue its work. Climate Caucus also plans to call meetings so that the
NGO community can share and exchange new and developing ideas, and build practical plans to
advocate meaningful policy changes at both civil society and governmental levels. We look
forward to this challenge. It will be a demanding effort, but we are determined to succeed, to
regularly report on progress through the NGO/DPI Executive Committee as well as through
CONGO, and to expand the number of people and organizations involved. We encourage
subsequent DPI conferences to pursue similar strategies.
One other point worth noting is that this project has been entirely self-supporting, with each
member of the Editorial Working Group (which manages the project) covering his or her own
expenses, as have the Working Group Editors. Larry Roeder personally donated the funds to
cover the costs of telephone conferences, the website, its software and the developer’s fees.
Moki Kokoris designed the Climate Caucus logo. Judy Lerner, an ex-officio member of the group
in 2007-2008 (who has signed on to be a regular member beginning in 2009) hosted physical
meetings and provided meals and refreshments as well as a wealth of wisdom. The World
Society for the Protection of Animals covered Mr. Roeder’s travel expenses to New York and
Geneva, Switzerland. Other members of the group paid for their own travel to meetings, most of
which were held in New York. Dr. Scott Carlin (an ex-officio member) and Dr. Charles Hitchcock,
a full member, provided interns who assisted with research. This same philosophy of
sustainability will be maintained in 2009 as the project enters its next phase. In that year, Climate
Caucus plans to incorporate itself in order to raise non-taxable funds to cover travel and
networking event costs, while continuing to maintain the same close links with the NGO/DPI
Executive Committee and CONGO.
The final recommendation is to carefully choose a team that is diverse, dedicated and that works
well together. This does not imply that they must always agree. The Editorial Working Group was
made up of people of very different backgrounds, diplomacy, disaster management, Arctic
research, indigenous peoples, peace-making and philosophy, to name only a few topics.
Although the members had disagreements on occasion, the group believed in the mission
strongly enough to overcome the differences. The team also learned to trust each other’s
motives. This type of attitude is essential when developing a project such as this one that consists
of an ongoing exploration of solutions, some of which will be controversial and unconventional.
Although we endeavored to remain true to the Declaration, we also felt we had to honor creativity.
After all, the real work was done by the Working Group Editors, who had to be chosen in the
same manner and operate in similar fashion with its own members. We did not want them to feel
overly constrained. As we move into the next phase of the project, that flexibility will be essential.

 

 

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