Some of the world’s leading environmental experts will meet at a Commonwealth conference this week to see how they can take forward an innovative strategy to reverse the human impact of climate change. They are hoping their new approach will influence the debate among world leaders when they meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP23, chaired by Fiji in Bonn, Germany this November.

The Commonwealth’s Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change Conference, organised in collaboration with the Cloudburst Foundation, is the second meeting of experts, who believe that climate change does not have to be all doom and gloom, and there is potential to reverse its effects.

Last October, at Marlborough House, London, more than 60 scientists, ecologists, activists, academics and funders explored cutting-edge approaches to reducing carbon emissions and addressing global warming, while boosting development and economic growth.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will present their findings at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s London headquarters on May 18, 2017. This includes submissions from Project Drawdown - a comprehensive plan with the potential to reverse global warming.

She said, "A pronounced increase in violent storms, floods, drought, desertification and devastating sea level rises – extreme events such as these are the realities that many people across the Commonwealth wake up to every day. This is why, from the moment I took office I have been working hard to address climate change.

“It is truly a historic moment for the Commonwealth as the first intergovernmental organisation to take on the bold challenge of flipping the narrative on climate change. What we are saying is that climate change is not only our biggest challenge, it is also our biggest opportunity.”

The Secretary-General continued, “Funders, as well as leading experts in a range of areas relating to climate change, came to our headquarters last year to give us a verdict on the feasibility of making reversal rather than mitigation our goal.

“We looked at existing working examples of the regenerative development approach, which mean actions to heal the damage we have caused to the earth and working with nature instead of against nature. For example, tapping into the power of volcanic hot springs for our electricity, geothermal power plants, regenerating coastal wetlands and constructing buildings that mimic trees in the way they dispose of carbon.

“The unanimous agreement was that, if we have the political will and work together, we can drastically reduce carbon emissions and reverse the human impact of climate change while accelerating economic growth and boosting development.”

Keynote speakers at the conference include global advocate on climate change action and former president of Kiribati, Anote Tong; former UN Secretary General’s special envoy on climate change and former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson; New York bestselling climate change author Paul Hawken; scientist Janine Benyus; design, art, science, and technology specialist David McConville; and authority on regenerative development Ben Haggard.

Secretary-General Scotland said the aim now is to find a strong business model for this “revolutionary approach” which can be tailored to the needs of Commonwealth member countries. The initiative will complement the Commonwealth’s Climate Finance Access Hub, which opened its doors last September and is helping countries to access millions of pledged funds for climate action.