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Our ethos and approach

Picture of the participants and trainers from the 2023 ICTP Joint Summer School on Modelling Tools for Sustainable Development

Why and how we promote climate compatible growth in the global south using our ‘Theory of Change’. 

Many countries in ‘the global south’ (Africa, India, South America, Asia) are still in a position where most of the population does not have electricity, transport, or many of the things taken for granted in the UK, USA and other ‘developed’ countries. (These poorer countries are generally called Low- and Middle-Income Countries or LMICs.) This means that millions of people can’t see a doctor, can’t go to school, can’t start a business or look for opportunities in other parts of the country.  Often women, young people, people with disabilities and rural communities are affected most of all.  In large parts of Africa, thousands of people are still using charcoal to cook with, and don’t have electric light even though we are in the twenty-first century. 

LMICs need major investment to help them overcome these challenges and this is available from global investors like the World Bank and other International Finance Institutions. LMIC business cases for investment need to be made robust enough to give banks and development finance organisations the confidence to invest. And this can be challenging. There is often a lack of coordination between different groups involved in climate and investment policies. The evidence with which to make decisions can be weak.  Processes can be outdated, and other political economy factors can distort decision-making.

So how can we help to accelerate growth and at the same time drive down carbon emissions? And how do these countries empower themselves to find their own solutions rather than having it ‘done to’ them? And how do we encourage the inclusion of previously marginalised groups in the decision- making process? We do it by promoting sustainable growth or what we call climate compatible growth. 

Our approach

We’re funded by UK Aid and have been working with Kenya and Zambia for a while.  We have recently started to work with Ghana, Vietnam, India and Lao.      

Our approach is always based on creating partnerships and working together with teams in each of our partner countries.  We always have a locally-based university partner and co-ordination team to help, and we’ll often be working with the Ministry of Energy, Finance or a similar government department in the country. When they invite us to work with them, we build decision-making capacity with officials and analysts in government and build the university’s ability to produce more government analysts through training and education, particularly in energy modelling. 

Very simply, as the capacity to analyse data and use it in decision-making is built, we support the government departments as they develop their plans and strategies. This is done by collecting as much useful data as possible from that country through demand-led research. That data is then run through analytical modelling tools like OSeMOSYS or FinPlan (there are several) to create different scenarios. That way our client country can see what a solar powered future might look like and cost, versus a nuclear powered one.  Or they can see what benefits would be created by building a transport system to connect the whole country.  They can also see how some of their policies may need to be changed for investors to become interested. We call this the ‘Data-to-Deal’ approach – using relevant data to create a proposal that secures the investment needed to make it happen.  

Our partner countries then use all this information to make their choice about what kind of projects they want to develop in order to reduce emissions. We also do most of this work in partnership with local researchers. That helps build and embed the capacity to undertake more exploratory research in future.

Our Guiding Principles 

Our approach is based on five main principles. (1) Analysis should be nationally owned: led by the country itself, with input from key stakeholders. (2) Analysis should be coherent or aligned with the country’s broader economic, social, and environmental goals. (3) Governments should be supported to build the capacity of their national institutions to carry out energy planning. (4) All decisions should be based on robust evidence and analysis. (5) All of this work should be transparent and accessible to stakeholders.

We believe that the research evidence clearly shows that by carefully choosing the right clean energy projects for investment and owning this process on a national scale (ie including the views of previously excluded stakeholders like women and other groups), the country will achieve accelerated sustainable economic growth and the many benefits that come with this (in terms of education, health, and so on).        

Our focus is on partnering with countries, creating evidence together, empowering local decision-makers and strengthening decision making processes for the long-term, rather than lobbying for particular outcomes.  We want countries to use and improve this approach long after we have left so it must be sustainable.   

So, we work to ensure that each country has the skills and processes it needs to collect and use the evidence for its policy and investment decisions. We do this by connecting policy makers with CCG researchers and experts around the world.    

Our Beliefs

We believe that decision-makers in partner countries deserve the best possible evidence to inform their decisions. We ensure this by jointly developing cutting-edge research methods, co-creating knowledge, and providing training to build self-sufficiency in researchers and policymakers.

We support local research institutions and networks to become independent in their abilities to collect data, undertake analysis and use evidence so that they can inform national planning decisions autonomously. We also work with them as we co-create new information and research.

Specific challenges for LMICs in more detail  

LMICs face a number of challenges in achieving sustainable growth through clean energy infrastructure projects:   

  • There is often a lack of coherent policies, strategies, planning, regulations, and market systems.
  • Different groups such as national planners, policymakers and development partners, have different levels of influence and are not all equal.
  • Locally based analysts and decision makers only have limited influence on decisions made.
  • The evidence base for climate compatible growth policies is often weak or absent.
  • Out-of-date processes confine planning, operations, and business models to sectoral silos rather than allowing a more joined-up approach.
  • Political economy factors that can distort decision-making.

Our Activities

Our activities, and the courses and publications we produce, aim to support the development of a network of activities that we call the CCG Ecosystem.  This includes research activity, partnerships, knowledge products and people with the skills to maintain this network. We develop and maintain it by:

  • Forming national and international research partnerships.
  • Conducting the research that our client countries ask for and that hasn’t already been done by others. (We have started with workstreams that focus on: 
    • Energy and Transport with advanced GIS analysis
    • System Interactions including infrastructure resilience, material supply chain modelling and integrated climate-, land-, energy-, water-system analysis 
    • Economics, Policy, Political Economy and Data-to-Deal (D2D) Investment Pipelines
  • Providing capacity building through summer schools and other means
  • Curating, co-creating and disseminating knowledge products like research articles and courses.

The impact we aim to have

We aim to support our partner countries so they can secure the investment they need to build clean energy infrastructure projects. We intend that our work, particularly the co-creation of energy modelling tool that local analysts use to develop scenarios, will enable the following positive impacts: 

  • Decision-makers in our partner countries will be empowered to make decisions autonomously. 
  • Policy decisions on climate compatible growth will be based on facts rather than opinions.
  • These policies will reflect the wider needs of previously excluded communities such as women 
  • Nationally-owned, appropriate growth strategies and pathways will be developed by each partner.
  • The required resources, including investment from third parties, will be secured. 

To discuss how our approach could help your country or finance institution, to to raise a related issue, please email