3500 Creative Climate Collective at COP27, Egypt, 2022

: Juliette Smal

What Design Can Do

On Sunday 6 November, the 27th UN Climate Change Conference will begin in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. More than 30,000 activists, policymakers and business leaders will convene at the summit to coordinate global climate action for the next year. With so much on the line, there’s a lot up for discussion: from the relationship between finance and fossil fuels, to how countries can better protect their citizens from floods, fires and other climate-fueled disasters.

But in order to walk the talk — and create true climate justice — we believe we need more disruptive voices at the table. At WDCD, we see this gathering as an opportunity to advocate for the role of design within climate action and build the exchange of knowledge and networks needed to activate it. That’s why we’re proud to be working with the Creative Industries Fund NL to attend the conference with a group of 18 Dutch and African designers, called the Creative Climate Collective. If you’re unsure about what to expect from the next two weeks (or interested in getting more involved yourself), here is a guide to the most important things you need to know about COP27.


In 1992, a treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was ratified as a framework for international cooperation to combat climate change. Since then, meetings have been held (almost) annually to discuss how exactly this should be achieved, under the title ‘Conference of the Parties’ or ‘COP’. The next meeting, taking place from 6-18 November 2022, will be the 27th since the treaty was first signed. 


Egypt is hosting COP this year, in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh. This will be only the fifth time that COP has been hosted in Africa, and there’s hope that the event will draw attention to the severe impact that climate change is having on the continent. 

However, many prominent environmentalists and activists have criticised the choice of venue because of the Egyptian government’s poor record on human rights. Because of this, it’s important that we question not only what is being talked about at COP27, but also who gets to participate in the process.


In the latest IPCC report, climate scientists warned that if we do not cut fossil fuel emissions drastically within the next decade, we will destroy any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. That spells catastrophe for everyone on the planet, but especially for vulnerable communities living on the frontlines of the crisis. 

COP27  provides an opportunity for world leaders to reflect on this data and collaborate on concrete plans and solutions. In the past, COP pledges have fallen short of delivering system-wide change, but we cannot afford apathy or inaction any longer. Four key issues are highlighted in this year’s agenda: mitigation, adaptation, finance, and reparations (also referred to as  ‘loss and damage’).


COP27 will be attended by delegates from nearly 200 countries. The main event will be mostly restricted to representatives of governments, businesses and NGOs. Unfortunately, this group also includes lobbyists from industries such as coal and gas, whose presence invariably influences the outcome of the meeting. The good news is that hundreds of climate activists, youth leaders, media members and innovators will also be attending the summit to apply pressure in the other direction.


We’ve always believed that the creative industries can play an important role in climate action and policymaking in general — so we’re happy to report that there will be some design-related events at COP27. Most will take place in the summit’s Green Zone, a parallel space that is open to the public and will host events and pavilions led by youth, civil and creative organisations. Here are three projects that we are most looking forward to this year.

The Creative Climate Collective
WDCD is thrilled to be joining COP27 with a group of 18 creative changemakers from the Netherlands, Egypt, Mali, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, and Ghana. The line-up includes material designer Rania Elkalla, community architect Kevin Kimwelle and ‘eco-deviant’ artist, Arthur Guilleminot

Through workshops, talks, speeddates and pitches, the collective will share their unique perspectives on designing for climate action. On 11 November, each participant will present their work to the public through a special exhibition located in the Green Zone. Six members will also take the stage in a panel discussion during our ‘Design as a key for Change’ programme, which will take place in the hall from 15.00hrs to 16.00hrs local time. Get to know the collective here.