One of the most important messages from last year’s COP27 global climate summit was voiced by leaders from emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). They made it clear that time was a luxury their countries did not have. Climate change was affecting their people now, they said, and global action to respond to the issues these countries face needed to be accelerated immediately.

Put simply by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados: “Why are we not moving any further?… How many more countries must falter?”

In a new set of essays, “Keys to Climate Action: How developing countries could drive global success and local prosperity,” curated by the Center for Sustainable Development at The Brookings Institution with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, leading thinkers from EMDEs lay out a framework for next steps on climate action – centered on their unique regional and country perspectives. Each essay makes the case for urgent actions that consider the historic intersection of climate change impact with the existing need to improve human lives and livelihoods through development intervention. The framework underscores the importance of climate investments that avoid human development setbacks.

The collection of essays covers countries ranging from populous hydrocarbon producers such as Indonesia and Nigeria to small, highly vulnerable nation-states like Bangladesh. The work excludes the special case of China in order to amplify the voices of other countries that have received relatively less attention in global climate conversations but whose cases are central to global climate-related outcomes.

Despite the enormous complexity and diversity across these essays, we saw a few vital themes shared across them, which we believe elevate the work into a “must-read” for better understanding the future of our global climate agenda:

  • Inventive new actions point the way forward.
  • Hope for overcoming the energy paradox.
  •  Financing is the key bottleneck.
  • Global cooperation on adaptation and mitigation is a moral and practical imperative.

Taken together, these essays make clear that the way forward is difficult. Progress on climate change adaptation for EMDEs means not just decarbonizing, but also finding new growth opportunities while making swift progress on health, education, energy access, and other already established development benchmarks. All of this while also overcoming an onslaught of economic and natural disruptions from climate change impacts like flooding and drought.

Read the full article about climate agenda by Kevin O'Neil and Nicole Rasul at The Rockefeller Foundation.