Symposium 2: Inclusivity & Wellbeing: Coastal Communities in a 3°C World

The second event in the Frontiers of Development series will centre on climate change, a 3°C rise in global temperatures and the threats this poses to oceans, water resources and coasts. It took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Sunday 15 July - Wednesday 18 July 2018. Topics under dicussion included:

  • Sustainable Blue Economy 
  • Management and Protection of Marine Ecosystems
  • Climate Disaster Mitigation and Resilience 

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Adapting to a changing and warming world is central to the Sustainable Development Goals and several are directly linked to the symposium theme: 

  • Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Goal 13: Climate Action
  • Goal 14: Life Below Water
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals 

UN Sustainable Development Goals

However, the overarching themes of inclusivity, wellbeing, resilience and sustainability are naturally cross-cutting which makes this an incredibly interesting topic. It is, too, particularly pertinent in the wake of the Paris Climate Agreement. The United Nations Environment Programme, released their Emissions Gap Report in November 2016 which detailed that emissions by 2030 are likely to reach 54-56 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year which is some way off the Paris target of 42 gigatonnes. You can read the full report below 

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report 2016

The second Frontiers of Development symposium aims to tackle the concept of a 3°C world and its associated challenges head on by bringing future leaders of all disciplines, from across the globe, together to network, collaborate, and share knowledge and skills.


Symposium Format & Logistics

The core of the event is centred on three multidisciplinary, workshop-style sessions. Participants are obliged to attend every session to maximise the opportunity to make new contacts and build collaborative relationships. Whilst a session may not directly relate to an individual's research area, it is expected that participants who attend do so because they are eager to explore that which is outside their disciplinary silo and see how their work can link in with that of researchers in other areas to address development challenges. 

Frontiers events are always enjoyable but they can be intense with so much happening over a short time period. Therefore, we incorporate a range of formal and informal networking opportunities including social activities to ensure delegates get to know each other and experience the local area.


Innovation Unconference

In conjunction with this second symposium, we are working with the Academy’s Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) Programme to host an Innovation Unconference. The event will bring together 4 years of Alumni of the LIF programme from Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico and it will also be open to participants of the FoD symposium. The event is  not compulsory  and does not influence the programme of FoD, rather, we have arranged it to align with FoD themes and participants are encouraged to extend their stay to participate if they feel it would be useful and productive; costs will be covered by RAEng. Ideally, the session would encourage collaboration between participants from both programmes.

What is an unconference?

The uniqueness of an unconference is that the programme is decided by the participants. Rather than trying to anticipate the needs of the cohort and create the whole programme in advance, this format mobilises the expertise of the network and creates a content which is entirely specific to the group present in the room.

The idea is built on the principle that all participants have expertise and wisdom to share with each other that is often overlooked. It moves away from the idea that only a very senior member of an organisation can only provide this wisdom. Thus, the focus is on a peer to peer learning system.

At the opening, facilitators will work with participants to arrange a series of sessions, which will take place in parallel, based on what the participants want to discuss, share and learn, thus, breaking from the traditional ‘top down’ format of a conference.

How will it work?

To accommodate this, and ensure that the group hits the ground running, facilitators will carry out relevant research on the topics and the expertise of the cohort ahead of time in order to help kick-start the discussions. A short questionnaire will be sent out to the attendees to be able to gather this information in advance. They will also where possible invite experts where most appropriate in the design of the unconference.


The event took place at the Hilton Hotel Copacabana, shortly after the conclusion of the FoD Symposium. In addition to the unconference, a networking reception bridged the two events at Rio’s Museum of Tomorrow.

Attendance at the unconference is not mandatory and is managed on an opt-in basis. It is exclusively open to attendees of the Frontiers of Development Symposium and invited LIF Alumni. All travel, accommodation and subsistence costs for those attending the Frontiers of Development Symposium will be covered by RAEng. Those who wish to opt-in to the Innovation Unconference will also have additional expenses in these areas covered.

How to Get Involved

If you would like to express interest in attending this Frontiers of Development event (with the option of also attending the Innovation Unconference), or know someone who would like to do so, please visit the How to Get Involved page to fill out an Expression of Interest or Nomination form. 

To get a flavour of the event, take a look at our Past Symposia page or explore #FrontiersDev on Twitter.

Frontiers of Development seed funding

Seed funding grants worth up to £20,000 each are available to groups of two or more participants of the this symposium. For more information, please read the guidance notes below.

Frontiers of Development applicant guidance notes (404.10 KB)