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Endorsed by the UNFCCC Secretariat, ECOS is an international network-of-networks for climate literacy, engagement, action & learning hives



Recognized by the UNFCCC just prior to COP22 as a new community with relevant status to participate in the formal UNFCCC process, ECOS was soft-launched in early November 2016 in Marrakech and has continued as a volunteer-driven effort with regular meetings and a Facebook group page since then. This proposal seeks support in establishing a formal ECOS secretariat and regional teams to assess needs, identify effective practices, plan for COP23 and other related events, find the "sweet spots" where local and global climate solutions converge, and launch the Climate Hives Action Initiative (CHAI).

Inspired by existing UNFCCC Constituencies, particularly youth-focused YOUNGO, ECOS aspires to serve as a "network of networks" to add innovative value to existing organizations and initiatives, serving as a clearinghouse for information and ideas for increasing climate literacy and action from within and beyond the UN system. 

Using a theory of change based on an ECO-system model-- first differentiating between and then integrating climate education, communication and outreach strategies, drawing upon the robust evidence base on research related to each of these three overlapping domains--the ECOS logical framework will help in mapping inputs and activities to their outcomes and ultimately the intended impacts: a global community working together to achieve climate action on local to global scales.

Key to the success of ECOS will be our ability to engage key stakeholders at an international level, building on lessons-learned for previous related efforts while incorporating emerging innovative and effective practices for building long-term literacy, communicating key climate information in a robust and on-going way, and inspiring and engaging through effective messaging and outreach. CHAI, customized learning hubs for climate action and empowerment, will serve as a collaborative focus for linking localized efforts through a global vision. 

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

There are less than 1000 days between now and the year 2020, which is the date that Mission 2020 has identified as the point when the curve of greenhouse gas emissions must turn downward.  

There are fewer than 5,000 days between now and the year 2030 when, ideally, the Sustainable Development Goals should be attained.

And there are around 12,000 days between now and the year 2050 when in theory greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere could begin to begin to be drawn down and the aims of the Paris Agreement achieved, according to analysis by Project Drawdown.

ECOS aims to support all of these ambitious goals through a two-fold approach: serving as the supporting backbone for a  "network of networks" of existing and emerging state and non-state actors, and developing and deploying around 100,000 Climate Hives that serve localized needs as well as broader engagement at the community level. 

Among the actions planned through the ECOS theory of change are:

  • Establishing a virtual ECOS secretariat with regional team leaders to begin the process of surveying the needs of the broad climate education, communication and outreach stakeholder community
  • Working closely with the UNFCCC Secretariat's Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) initiative, including focal points, and other UN climate action efforts such as UNITAR's CC:Learn, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and UNESCO's contributions to quality education and climate action, to discuss synergistic collaboration
  • Networking with non-state actors including Center for Environmental Education (India), CLEAN (USA), SPEN (Canada), and Co-Lab partners around the world
  • Building a robust ECOS website portal that is able to be customized for the language and culture needs of different users
  • Conducting an international review of research literature and effective practices, including the development, deployment and evaluation of ECO strategies that will be shared through the ECOS portal
  • Preparing for side events at COP24 in the Fall of 2018, at the 6th Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment in the Spring of 2018, and at other relevant events, making use of virtual technology where ever possible
  • Developing a prototype for the Climate Hive Action Initiative (CHAI -see details below), and deploying the CHAI model to help spark rapid community capacity-building and engagement. 

ECOS will provide a supporting backbone for existing and emerging efforts around the world to build community resilience and capacity to minimize climate risks and maximize our ability to rapidly respond to climate challenges on local to global scales.

In line with Article 6 of the original UNFCCC and in support of the Paris Agreement, especially Articles 11 and 12, ECOS aims to help nations, non-state actors, cities, communities and individuals share effective practices, build internal and collaborative capacity, and support informed climate decisions by allowing everyone to participate in developing adequate responses to climate change.

As noted above, a key project of ECOS will be the development and deployment of the Climate Hive Action Initiative, or CHAI.   around the world. The CHAI motto is "Where Local and Global Converge"

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The Vision

Imagine a structure near where you live that is made out of four modified shipping containers covered by a roof made of solar panels. Known by locals as “the Hive,” the simple building provides basic services for the community, including First Aid. But it is also something of an interactive museum or living laboratory for learners of all ages and backgrounds to gain insights and skills into sustainable practices for the 21st century.

Often buzzing with activities--people charging their mobile devices and electric bicycles, students learning science and career pathways related to sustainability, farmers and artisans selling their wares, experts giving workshops on food and healthy lifestyles --the Hive is where individual people can learn about local to global climate action…..and much more.

The basic kit of the Hive and Learning Center--solar panels, batteries, educational materials, and a handbook for making best use of the materials--is offered by ECOS, the Education, Communication and Outreach Stakeholder community affiliated with the UNFCCC, which envisions 100,000 or more Hives around the world, each unique to the community they serve.

Plans for communities to build their own Hives, using existing structures will be freely available online.

The Hive may be located in a local schoolyard, or village center, in a park or even a parking lot. Its structure is simple in design and can be easily installed and customized.

The Climate Hive & Learning Center offers a complex range and depth of solutions. It has the potential to inform, inspire and engage the public to be directly involved in implementing adequate responses to climate change and related challenges, but also to help individuals and the local community meet their own self-sustaining needs.

Ideal for schools and other learning environments, as well as hospitals, refugee camps and vulnerable communities, the Climate Hives are at once adaptable, practical and economical, building capacity on a community scale to minimize climate risks and maximize resilience.


Background and Logistics

The Hive concept is inspired by the Hungarian company Aquaprofit’s Intelligent Water Aid Technology (IWAT), which was designed by inventor Zsolt Zombori for freshwater purification in remote locations. The IWAT modular approach lends itself to easy assembly, operation and customization.

The key elements of the Hive include:  

  • Four High Cube ISO Containers modified for demonstration purposes

  • State-of-the-art solar PV panels, roofing and controls

  • A hybrid battery system including salt-water batteries for base load and next-generation lithium batteries for rapid charging

  • First aid station

  • Social communication systems including wifi and mobile phone charger stations

  • Examples of local technologies for reducing GHG emissions, which may include heat pumps, electric bicycles or other vehicles, micro wind turbines, and/or in-stream hydro power

  • Gallery exhibit of artwork (photographs and selected text) from the best-selling book Drawdown, edited by author Paul Hawken, highlighting the topics of Energy, Food, Buildings and Cities, Land Use, Transport, and MaterialsDrawdown-arrow.jpg


Over the next three years, the goal is to strategically deploy the first 1,000 Hives around the world, with priority given to refugee centres, vulnerable rural regions, and science and technology hubs.

By 2030 the goal is to deploy at least 100,000 Hives in communities around the world to serve as strategic interventions to inspire the public to engage in climate action and related Sustainable Development Goals.

ECOS as a network of networks is not enough to make a substantial impact toward climate action on a rapid scale. On its own, CHAI would be yet another well-intentioned community-based intervention that would struggle for recognition and support.  Together, ideally working closely with other CoLabs and related climate initiatives, rapid and exponential success can be achieved. 

Who will take these actions?

Mark McCaffrey, co-founder of CLEAN, the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network, is the key leader of this proposal. He is currently based in Hungary. ECOS has members around the world, including India and China. Other key leaders involved with ECOS include Evans Tembo of Zambia, Miroslav Polzer from Austria, and Danaé Espinoza from Mexico. All have global collaborators they work with and depth of experience with the UNFCCC community.

Where will these actions be taken?

As an international organization, ECOS's focus is global, but we anticipate that a particularly important scale for intervention and engagement will be in communities of around 100,000 people, where the local and global converge. 

Drawing from the experience of YOUNGO and other related efforts, ECOS will organize at the continental (Americas, Africa, Europe, Oceania, Asia), national (UNFCCC focal points), and, as the Climate Hives are developed and deployed, community level, which is where the action ultimately is.

In other words, we take a top down, bottom up and inside-out approach, ultimately focusing on the point (±10-100,000 people scale) where we can think and act locally and globally.


In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2


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What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

We anticipate that ECOS will play a key role in helping achieve the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half each decade between now and the year 2050, as outlined in the Carbon Law roadmap, as well as RCP2.6 and the related Shared Socioeconomic Pathway 1-2.6, and the Optimal Scenario laid out in Project Drawdown, which aims at reducing global emissions by 1,600 gigatons by the year 2050. Without robust climate education, communication and outreach, such goals are not possible. 

The Climate Action Hives & Learning Centers deployed through CHAI will help inspire and inform climate action at the community (±100,000 people or less) scale by building capacity and engagement. 

What are other key benefits?

There are potential benefits of ECOS and CHAI at every scale of society--from the global and international at the level of UNFCCC and the Parties to the Convention, to national level efforts to access training and tools, to the community level where the CHAI Climate Hives can inform and inspire sustainable practices, and ultimately at the household and individual level, where true climate empowerment to take action to reduce risks and increase resilience ultimately rests.

Long neglected, the original goal of Article 6 of the UNFCCC-- informed, engaged, empowered publics around the world that are involved with developing adequate responses to global climate distruptions--can be acheived through ECOS and its CHAI network. 


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

We request $100,000 for establishing the ECOS Secretariat and helping launch regional leadership teams in the first year. In the longer term, ECOS and the funding of related climate education, communication and outreach efforts with relevant evaluation will require funding on the order of 1% of all climate adaptation and mitigation projects, and should be considered essential if not a requirement to all such initiatives. 

Ideally, we propose deploying a network of 100,000 Climate & Sustainable Development Learning Centres around the world that demonstrate renewable energy and sustainable practices while providing practical services, such as health case and battery recharge. A pilot project of such a Centre, modeled after the Aqua Profit Intelligent Water Aid Technology using modified shipping containers, state of the art solar panels, and clean battery technology, currently costs around $400,000, but once scaled up the costs will drop considerably.

Plans for communities and individuals to develop Climate Hives on their own will be freely available, and through ECOS all who participate will be contributors to the "network of networks."

The total cost to develop, customize, coordinate and maintain this network is estimated to be around 1% of total climate finance investments, but this investment will greatly enhance and add value to other climate finance investments. 


The impact of ECOS will start to be felt by stakeholders almost immediately.  If properly funded, in the short term ECOS will help to rapidly disseminate relevant literacy, communication and messaging tools and strategies.

CHAI aims to have 1000 Hives deployed by 2020 and 100,000 by 2030. If strategically distributed there will be for evey 100,000 people a hive near to them where they can gain practical knowledge, services and  inspiration. 

By the year 2050, the community will have substantially contributed to achieving goals in line with the Paris Agreement, RCP2.6 and SSP1-2.6 by peaking emissions and starting the process of drawing down CO2e concentrations in the atmosphere on a year to year basis.

In the long-term, through CHAI and its other networking efforts, ECOS will have a presence in every community in the world, continuing to provide the tools and "network of networks" linking the individual (ten to the zero power) to the other 10 billion people on the planet (ten to the tenth power). 

About the author(s)

Mark S. McCaffrey is a US citizen currently living in Budapest, Hungary. He is co-founder of CLEAN, co-author of Climate Confusion Among US Teachers in the journal Science, and author of Climate Smart & Energy Wise. He now serves as Senior Research Fellow with the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies at the National University for Public Service. 

Related Proposals

There is not a single Climate CoLab proposal that isn't related to this proposal, but many are narrowly focused and none really address the scale, scope and urgency of the challenge at hand: rapidly and radically transforming society through climate action and empowerment.  

Climate CoLab proposals, including this one, are all well intended but insufficient. Only through imagining a big vision and then carefully coordinating our efforts will climate catstrophe be avoided. 

As a "network of networks", ECOS can benefit existing and proposed climate organizations at every scale of society while providing a tangible, physical, community based initiative--CHAI--to serve as the modern day "Arks" for the storm.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan "Come gather 'round people/ Wherever you roam/And admit that the waters/Around you have grown/And accept it that soon/You'll be drenched to the bone/If your time to you is worth savin'/Then you better start swimmin'/Or you'll sink like a stone/For the climate is a-changin'


Too many to list here, but this can be refined later.  Here's a few to get started:

Kuster, E. L., & Fox, G. A. (2017). Current state of climate education in natural and social sciences in the USA. Climatic Change141(4), 613-626.

Lee, T. M., Markowitz, E. M., Howe, P. D., Ko, C. Y., & Leiserowitz, A. A. (2015). Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world. Nature climate change5(11), 1014-1020.

Lutz, W., Muttarak, R., & Striessnig, E. (2014). Universal education is key to enhanced climate adaptation. Science346(6213), 1061-1062.

Plutzer, E., McCaffrey, M., Hannah, A. L., Rosenau, J., Berbeco, M., & Reid, A. H. (2016). Climate confusion among US teachers. Science351(6274), 664-665.

Tavoni, A., Dannenberg, A., Kallis, G., & Löschel, A. (2011). Inequality, communication, and the avoidance of disastrous climate change in a public goods game. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences108(29), 11825-11829.

Also see this crowdsourced bibliography on climate literacy: