PwC passes CDKN legacy and leadership to Africa-based SSN

25 April 2018

Over the past eight years, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has been a trailblazer and advocate for climate compatible development in the poorest and most vulnerable nations.

Since 2010, we’ve seen widespread traction to bring climate compatible development into the mainstream with it becoming central to the Sustainable Development Goals. And under our stewardship, the award-winning CDKN Negotiations Support programme played a significant role in ensuring the voices and needs of developing countries were integrated into the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

But now another important milestone is coming to pass this month– we’re handing over the CDKN reins to Africa based SouthSouthNorth (SSN) bringing to a close PwC’s leadership of this pioneering international development and climate programme.  

SSN is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Cape Town, and has been the CDKN Africa alliance partner over the past eight years. Meanwhile, our London and Belfast based CDKN team in Sustainability and Climate Change (S&CC) are winding up and moving on to manage new projects in climate finance, forestry and international negotiations which emerged from CDKN.

Eight years…and a few of our highlights

To date, CDKN has been among the largest of the PwC International Development programmes working globally through an alliance of southern based NGOs including SSN, FFLA (Latin America), Lead Pakistan (Asia) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

From an original £45m contract with DFID, CDKN expanded its donor base and delivered over £130m worth of programmes for a further 11 donors. During this time:

  • We procured expertise in climate related research, technical assistance and knowledge management to work with the CDKN Alliance and developing country partners;
  • 1100 CDKN projects carried out research, assembled information, designed policy, secured finance and delivered programmes for climate compatible development;
  • CDKN played a significant role in mainstreaming climate policies into development practices across countries as diverse as Colombia, Peru, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Bangladesh enabling these countries to be some of the most progressive in domestic and UN convened international action on climate change;
  • Many projects have helped to establish national climate change policies and plans and even legislation, for example the Kenya Climate Change Bill;
  • At a sub-national level CDKN has supported over 20 cities in their adaptation plans most notably in the historic city of Cartagena in Colombia;
  • The Least Developed Countries Group, African Group of Negotiators, Alliance of Small Island States and the High Ambition Coalition benefited from strategy, legal and technical support in the years up to Paris and in establishing the Paris “rulebook” as well as in further raising ambitions to curb emissions and finance the necessary transition to low carbon, climate resilient development; and
  • According to independent evaluation, we contributed to change in policies and practices in 33 countries and reached a global audience through its huge output of knowledge with over one million visits to CDKNs website.

Crucially, our projects have directly impacted livelihoods - even saving lives in periods of extreme heat caused by climate change. The Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan developed by CDKN effectively reduced mortality during the 2015 heatwave that hit that city and South Asia; only 7 deaths were recorded in contrast to a comparable heatwave in 2010 that claimed 1300 lives.   The approach has been taken up and replicated across a further 17 cities across India and Pakistan.

CDKN has also been highly effective in leveraging finance for climate change and development with more than 50 instances documented. Several of these, such as Ethiopia’s successful bids to both the Green Climate Fund and Adaptation Fund, will enable national scale resilience programmes to be implemented. Other examples include the design of a disaster risk insurance mechanism that is expected to benefit at least 250,000 people in low income communities in Pakistan, and the design of a climate resilient dam and irrigation scheme on the Limpopo River expected to provide benefits across southern Mozambique.


SSN and the on-going CDKN partnership will be building on a strong legacy which includes a shift in policy capability around climate change notably in the 13 engagement countries of the programme.

As a result of embedding a learning centred approach, people can continue to access a large quantity of learning material on climate and development on the CDKN website. It has grown a web of networks, researchers and consultants north and south who are actively promoting transitions to climate resilient, low carbon development such as the Low Emissions Development Global Partnership (LEDS GP).

But perhaps our strongest legacy over the last eight years with CDKN is quite simply, the people – of the hundreds who have worked in the CDKN Alliance team at PwC and elsewhere many have gone on to pursue significant careers in climate and development organisations and are actively tackling one of the greatest challenges of our times. And that is certainly something to be proud of.

Sam Bickersteth, CEO of CDKN 2011-18

Kiran Sura, Assistant Director, S&CC, PwC

For more information on our work with CDKN and the ongoing / future projects mentioned which have emerged from our work there, contact Kiran  via email: