Lessons from C40’s masterclass in Addis Ababa

In the heart of Ethiopia’s bustling capital city of Addis Ababa, from 11–15 March 2024, city officials from across Africa—including Abidjan, Addis Ababa, Accra, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Freetown, and eThekwini—gathered for a C40 workshop focused on loss and damage and inclusive climate action. 

The event, ‘Building Resilient Cities and Protecting Frontline Communities from Climate-Induced Losses and Damages,’ aimed to empower cities to communicate effectively about urban loss and damage, support cities in developing strong policies to protect residents, and foster partnerships and public support for their climate resilience strategies.

Group photo - Addis Ababa March 2024 ICA Workshop - featuring C40 staff and city representatives from Abidjan, Addis Ababa, Accra, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Freetown, and Ethekwini
© Abinet Teshome – C40

The drive for inclusive communication

The first part of the programme focused on inclusive climate action communications training. This two-day intensive workshop equipped the 27 participating city officials from three important departments—climate resilience, disaster risk reduction, and communications—with the tools to build public and political support:

  • Interactive workshops and simulations: Officials developed draft communication plans through hands-on activities, benefiting from peer learning sessions and role-playing scenarios.
  • Tangible outcomes: Each city left with a bespoke strategy designed to amplify its climate action narratives effectively.
Communication workshop photo - Addis Ababa March 2024 ICA Workshop - participants smiling and discussing papers round a table
© Abinet Teshome – C40

Masterclass: deepening knowledge and broadening networks

The core of the masterclass was a three-day deep dive into enhancing technical knowledge and practical application:

  • Expert-led panels and peer activities: These sessions facilitated an exchange of innovative ideas and best practices through discussions with regional experts and frontline community representatives.
  • Building capacity and confidence: The focus was on empowering officials to articulate and showcase their cities’ initiatives and identify strategic gaps, while also sharing policies and programmes cities are already implementing to address loss and damage.
Masterclass photo - Addis Ababa March 2024 ICA Workshop - attendees smiling and high-fiving
© Abinet Teshome – C40

Learning in action: site visits in Addis Ababa

To complement the theoretical sessions, participants explored three key sites within Addis Ababa that exemplified effective local climate action initiatives.

Visits included the Adwa Museum, Entoto Park’s women’s recycling centre to learn from female workers, and the Gulele Botanical Garden’s community-centric projects.

Site visit collage - Addis Ababa March 2024 ICA Workshop - Visits included the Adwa Museum, Entoto Park's women's recycling centre to learn from female workers, and the Gulele Botanical Garden's community-centric projects.
© Abinet Teshome – C40

We’ve learned at the inclusive climate action masterclass that in moving towards implementing responses to loss and damage, no stakeholder should be left behind. All must be part of the local response to loss and damage. From the central level of the national state to the intermediary level constituted by the local authorities, right down to the grassroots level. The key to innovation in the response to loss and damage lies with the people, and the knowledge of communities can provide much more appropriate responses than those imported from elsewhere.”

Abdoullaye Sylla, Director of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dakar, reflecting on the learnings

Empowering future action

The C40 Cities masterclass in Addis Ababa offered city officials a deeper understanding of the importance of working together with affected residents to address climate challenges. It encouraged a unified approach and demonstrated that true resilience is built on inclusive dialogue and community-driven initiatives. 

The masterclass was underpinned by vital C40 resources, which city representatives can access for future use:

  • The C40 report: Loss and Damage: Challenges and Opportunities for City Leadership –– a guide detailing urban leadership challenges and opportunities in addressing climate impacts. This report was supported by the Mayors Migration Council and the Scottish Government Climate Justice Fund.
  • The C40 ICA communications toolkit: This not-yet-published toolkit is designed to assist African cities in crafting impactful climate communication strategies. It will be shared with cities soon.

As urban areas worldwide face increasing climate impacts, we hope the insights gained from the masterclass will contribute to building a resilient future where everyone can thrive.

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