Inspiring Change Gathering

Exploring creative ways to deal with climate change in Cape Town

WHEN: 18 – 20 November 2011

WHERE: Cape Town International Convention Centre, Roof Terrace & via the Internet

WHAT: With COP17/CMP7 hosted in Durban during November and December 2011, climate change issues are in the spotlight. While Climate Change solutions are central to South Africa’s future, we need an increased focus on the issues and challenges faced by Cape Town to become a more resilient city. We also need to take advantage of the many opportunities this represents, such as advancing a low carbon economy, creating jobs and living more sustainably.

For three days in November, Inspiring Change will stimulate fresh thinking and share ideas about our city. This gathering will foster conversations beyond policy in order to point toward new possibilities, moving the discussion away from what we have to give up toward what we can create. It presents a rare opportunity to raise good questions and explore creative solutions in an optimistic and real-world way, with colleagues and leaders who can make practical contributions.

This event has concluded.

Please note that presentations are available online, accessible from the programme page and via SlideShare.


View programme | view speakers | view archived video of Day 1 | view registered delegates


Note: Detailed programme available online here or for download here [pdf].

Day 1, 18 November:

Half-day of inspiring presentations and thought-provoking discussions. Panel themes:

Each of the two themed sessions will have the following format:

After a networking lunch, there will be Pecha Kucha – 10 presentations of 20 slides x 20 seconds per slide. Each presentation will highlight an existing, real-world project pertaining to climate change solutions in leading cities, presented by a project leader. This will break into an informal afternoon tea in a lounge-like setting, to allow the conversations to continue uninterrupted.

An optional evening Carrotmob* will also be hosted at Marias Café in Dunkley Square. This will be the first Carrotmob event in Africa!

Day 2, 19 November:

Half-day of Open Space interactions. Participants will determine the topics to be discussed through a democratic process in the days prior to the event, shaping and finalising them on the first day of the gathering. What emerges from the presentations and discussion on the first day can be followed up or continued as participants prefer, or entirely new topics and areas of engagement can be opened up. The boundaries between speakers and audience, experts and observers are blended and broken down, allowing for new ideas, fresh perspectives and organic interactions to flourish. The open space sessions will allow for several of the issues most pertinent to the participants and the focus of the gathering to be addressed and will accommodate varied group sizes, with professional facilitators ensuring a smooth process and dynamic interactions. Participants will be able to move between groups, making their contributions where they make the most sense, and deriving benefits from as many sessions as they would like.

The afternoon will include site visits to several of relevant projects, bringing the conversations back around to real-world issues.

Day 3, 20 November:

Climate smART Cape Town at the Green Point Park– a day of of fun and facts that enlighten, and let the light in, and on to, matters of climate change affecting the City of Cape Town. The Park is a perfect setting: from the reclaimed waters of the Camissa River to the Biodiversity Garden, to the Eco friendly nature of the park’s design and environment – it is a magnificent living example of a space reclaimed, through nature, for the people.

Enjoy performance, arts and interactivity complete with local food prepared with solar cookers. This is a chance to open up to different perspectives on climate change from some of the most insightful and talented artists, and to enjoy creative responses to the challenges of climate change.

Highlights include:

*How does a Carrotmob work?
Large groups of customers are organised to “mob” a restaurant where they purchase food and drink. In return for the higher revenue earned that day, the business agrees to invest a certain percentage of the revenue into reducing its environmental footprint.

Virtual participation encouraged

All the presentations and discussions on Day 1 will be broadcast in real time via the web allowing for simultaneous virtual participation by delegates around the world, including through Twitter and Facebook.

A pre-gathering schedule of online discussions will be developed to raise awareness, help delegates become familiar with the issues (and one another), and focus the discussions that will take place during the actual gathering. Participants will be encouraged to contribute thoughts and content to a webpage that all can reference.

During the course of pre-gathering online discussions, changes to the format of various presentations can be proposed and specific questions suggested for speakers and participants to come prepared to address. The intention is to enable participants to have a voice in shaping the content of the gathering to better meet their needs and expectations.

Why cities and climate change?

Cities are places of flux and for some innovation and adaptation come easily. In looking for solutions, officials in Cape Town and the Western Cape are being stretched by increasing climate change impacts and the need for novel ways of managing urban spaces and the growing number of people that occupy them. Cape Town is also competing for its portion of the future economy. Climate change is not about to go away and the need to both slash greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the consequences of the changes that are already unavoidable, will reconfigure competitive advantage and create a new set of winners and losers.

If Cape Town gets this right there will be new business, new investments, better services, more tourists and the type of living environment that attracts and retains skilled people. There will also be new ways out of poverty for people trapped by an industrial economy that may have offered a blueprint for development sixty years ago, but now finds itself operating a long way down the value chain and generating exactly the type of environmental degradation that perpetuates poverty.

Successful cities will place a new urgency on developing and adopting innovations that foster growth while reducing material throughput of the economy. But the most progressive cities acknowledge that innovation on its own is unlikely to deliver the scale or pace of change required. The structure, layout and functioning of cities has to change simultaneously, and some cities are doing better than others in managing this process.

Inspiring Change is hosted by the Cape Town Climate Change Coalition in association with the City of Cape Town, African Centre for Cities at UCT, Cape Town Partnership, Cape Town International Convention Centre, ICLEI, Provincial Government of the Western Cape and is generously supported by Siemens.

For more information contact:

Julia Karl
021 487 2785 / 071 026 2393
meet [at]