Partnering with the Commonwealth to reverse climate change

The Commonwealth of Nations represents nearly a third of the world’s population and one fifth of the Earth’s landmass. Consequently, its actions are highly influential because its population lives in every region of the planet and contains a rich diversity of cultures, economies, and ecosystems.

In 2016, the newly-appointed Rt. Hon Baroness Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, made climate change reversal a top priority for her tenure. The Commonwealth, an intergovernmental organization of 52 member states, is currently one of the highest leverage points and an important entity with scale and motivation to quickly put such an effort into action. It has the political will, especially given the existential threats of climate change faced by more than half of its member nations. The Cloudburst Foundation is uniquely positioned to orchestrate maximum impact and investment, strategic implementation, and effectively communicate the story and potential of this globally oriented but locally implemented initiative.

Joining forces, the Cloudburst Foundation and the Commonwealth will harness new economic and educational opportunities relating to climate change through collaborative initiatives. A successful effort will ignite leadership in the grassroots; supporting this process by facilitating resources, expertise, and a regenerative development framework as guidance through a large portfolio of publicly funded and incentivized projects. It will stimulate private and public investment in regenerative initiatives around the world and support member states to lead efforts in balancing the carbon cycle while nurturing vibrant, diverse, and creative communities.

The solutions already exist

Our goals are ambitious, but they are within reach. A comprehensive plan for balancing the carbon cycle using existing infrastructure and technologies has been proposed by Project Drawdown, a key partner to RDRCC. Integrating a diverse suite of evidence-based solutions, the plan details climate-change opportunities across geographies, technologies, systems, and sectors to stop excessive greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Project Drawdown has the potential to greatly complement and accelerate current global efforts to reduce emissions and achieve sustainable development goals. 

Drawdown is that point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begins to decline on a year-to-year basis.

Transforming communities and ecosystems requires more

Balancing the carbon cycle requires much more than technological solutions, however. It requires a paradigm shift in how we approach economic growth and development. Today’s predominant economic and development systems are top-down models based around perpetual growth, extraction, and production. If these systems continue to rely on endless, exponential growth, carbon sequestration will have little impact on reversing global warming.

To truly reverse global warming we must overturn the current economic and development systems at play, and work to create alternatives that benefit not just some but all. These processes have been successfully demonstrated through Regenerative Development, an approach that uses proven frameworks to guide the bottom-up transformation of local communities and ecosystems. Instead of attempting to solve fragmented problems, regenerative development works with whole systems to improve physical, social, ecological, cultural, and economic health and well-being. Importantly, Regenerative Development prioritizes the innovations, perspectives, and diversity in the commons that is so needed for meaningful transformation.

Program Implementation

  • To begin this work the Cloudburst Foundation, in collaboration with Secretary-General Scotland, organized the first Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change workshop on October 28-29, 2016 at Marlborough House in London. It launched a broad program to develop viable, comprehensive and effective regenerative development strategies for Commonwealth countries. More than 60 leading experts from diverse fields came together to discuss feasible and innovative models, policies, practices, and technologies that can make an immediate impact. These approaches laid the groundwork and foundation for future action.,
  • On May 17-19, 2017 the Partners organized a second high-level meeting to expand upon the work done in October. VVIP participants included: His Excellency Prince Charles of Wales; former President of Ireland, Hon. Mary Robinson; Project Drawdown Founder, Paul Hawken; HE Anote Tong, Former President of Kiribati; CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman; Fiji’s High Commissioner and Fiji’s COP23 Representative; Janine Benyus, co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8 and Biomimicry Institute along with global experts on regeneration. ,
  • On June 27th, 2017, climate change leaders will convene a third time at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London; this time to engage the financial sector on opportunities for directing trillions of dollars into new development models and activities that have the potential to reverse climate change, support regeneration and social inclusion.

Upcoming Activities

The Cloudburst Foundation is initiating a plan that will drive the progress of the regenerative development to reverse climate change initiative. This plan consists of a series of forums, workshops and co-design labs targeted at leveraging two significant events: COP23 to be held in Germany in November, 2017, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that will be held in the United Kingdom, in April, 2018. The plan involves the following:

  • Convene cross-disciplinary workshops and co-design labs on a range of climate-reveral related topics spanning from May 2017 to April 2018, including a session focused on COP23 and one on CHOGM, 2018.
  • Identify Commonwealth-specific opportunities amongst financial, business, practitioner, social, media, and governmental sectors based on Regenerative Development frameworks and Project Drawdown and start development.
  • Create and curate accessible content for positive and inclusive media campaigns to engage multiple generations (60% of Commonwealth citizens are under the age of 30). This includes a collaboration with the Buckminster Fuller Institute to develop a Spaceship Earth campaign to engage millions of people by visualizing the dynamic, interconnected living systems of humanity’s home planet.
  • Develop an engaging, open-source platform for sharing information, building bridges, showcasing success stories, and inspiring action and participation around climate-change reversal and regenerative development.
  • Identify and develop financial instruments and business models needed to redirect trillions of Pounds available for climate change investment.

The Commonwealth’s Influence

“I want to put the wealth back into Commonwealth but I also want to put the common back into wealth.”

Rt. Hon Baroness Patricia Scotland QC

Through the Commonwealth’s ability to pursue a united approach, the Commonwealth member nations contributed significantly to the success of COP21.

At COP22, the Secretary-General presented the Commonwealth’s new policy on Climate Change based on the work of the October RDRCC workshop, introducing regenerative development and carbon drawdown as an overarching strategy.

COP23 is being organized by Fiji, a Commonwealth member, with support and guidance from the Commonwealth to focus the meeting on the RDRCC effort.

The imminent meeting of CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in April 2018 is, in light of Brexit, one of the most anticipated political gatherings in the world. It will be guided by the advocacy and leadership of the Commonwealth and will include a strong emphasis on RDRCC.

COP 22


In November 2016 at the UN Climate Summit in Marrakech (COP-22), Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, representing 52 nations and one third of world population, offered a powerful new vision to change the debate. Catastrophic climate change can be halted and reversed by shifting the development paradigm towards ecological regeneration.

Report of first design workshop

Presentation Meeting May 18 2017