My New Book

Felix Dodds latest book is out

FROM RIO+20 TO A NEW DEVELOPMENT AGENDA by Felix Dodds, Jorge Laguna-Celis & Liz Thompson


Consulting: Celebrity cause management

Celebrity cause management

Many celebrities are keen to use their fame to promote an issue. If managed well this enables the issue to gain publicity and support with the general public. 

In the area of celebrities and global intergovernmental events such as the Climate Change meetings and Rio+20, these are difficult events to understand. They are often managed by people who do not understand how these events operate or how to ensure a celebrity giving their time can do it effectively. 

I have organized or helped to organize a number of events at the UN for celebrities this includes:

  • Joseph Arthur participation in the Opening of  Breaking the Silence - Lest We Forget Exhibition in the UN HQ. Joseph Arthur sang two songs including A River Blue which he singers with former child soldiers from Uganda.
  • Supporting the UN DPI who organized a concert in the UN General Assembly Hall to commemorate the slave trade. There were amazing performers Akon, Peter Buffet, Blind Boys of Alabama, Gilberto Gil, Nile Rogers and Ky-Mani Marley. There were also great readings from Whoopi Goldberg, Staceyann, Carl Lewis and  CCH Pounder   

If you want to know how to work with the UN then I can help you develop that relationship. If you want to develop a profile around a particular issue then I can help you do that. This would include:•Developing a Cause Project Plan

  • Arranging speaking slots at events;
  • Event planning;
  • Arranging press conferences;
  • Visiting projects.

If this interests you then get in touch. 


Governance for Sustainable Development

The Post-2015 Agenda is an unprecedented effort that embodies universal aspirations for achieving a better, more just, equitable, peaceful and sustainable future. Representatives from 193 governments and multiple stakeholders, from all sectors, have actively participated in its creation. This ambitious and unique exercise represents a paradigm shift in development policy. It materializes years of dialogue and candid ambitions of addressing the most pressing global challenges. In this context, the rule of law, as well as, effective, robust, participatory and accountable institutions is of utmost importance to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their 169 targets.

The inextricable link between good governance and sustainable development was acknowledged in the Rio+20 Declaration “The Future We Want”. Moreover, the Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda further elaborated on this issue and made a call for all countries to recognize the need for responsive, legitimate and democratic institutions, at all levels.

Mindful of these challenges, the governments of Mexico, Romania and the Republic of Korea, with the technical support of the Tellus Institute and the organization ARTICLE 19, reinvigorated the “Group of Friends of the Governance for Sustainable Development”, which was created in the preparation of the Rio+20 Conference, as a flexible and informal space to discuss issues related to good governance and foster cooperation between multiple actors in the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The Group of Friends also aims to contribute to the discussions of the institutional architecture for the Agenda’s implementation, follow-up and review. Thus, the Group convened government representatives, UN officials, experts, and civil society in November 2014, January and May 2015 to three participatory workshops on governance and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Governance for Sustainable Development is edited by: Hoonmin Lim, Sara Luna and Oana Rebedea, David Banisar Felix Dodds and Quinn McKew

"We expect the present publication to be a useful input for the ongoing discussions about the institutional architecture for the Post-2015 Agenda. Our generation has now the opportunity to redefine the future and bring real, significant, transformative and universal change for and with the people, leaving no one behind. However, sustainable development will only become a reality if we have the enabling environment for it to happen. Thus, good governance will be pivotal for implementing, reviewing and improving the Post-2015 Development Agenda. We expect that this publication contributes to the colossal, but encouraging, challenges we will be facing during the next 15 years."  

Ambassador Choong-hee HAHN, Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu and Ambassador Jorge Montaño



Plain Language Guide to Rio+20

 Rio+20 saw a major rebirth of sustainable development as the major organizing principle for how we should live on this planet. It launched the work on Sustainable Development Goals which has become the main process for replacing the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. This book is a practical guide to those engaged in implementing the Rio+20 agreement and in developing the new development goals and agenda for 2015 and beyond. As a book it complements the Routledge book by the same authors “From Rio+20 to the New Development Agenda.” 

The book is written by three people who were practitioners in Rio+20 and the post 2012 process on the new Development Goals.

Felix Dodds is a Senior Fellow at the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at the University of North Carolina and an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute in Boston

Jorge Laguna-Celis is the Senior Advisor on sustainable development of the UN General Assembly. Since 2006 he has been a member of the Mexican Foreign Service.

Liz Thompson was one of the two UN executive coordinators for the Rio+20 process and negotiations and is a former Minister of Energy and Environment of Barbados. In 2008 she was awarded the UNEP “Champion of the Earth” award.

“This book is a great service to those who anyone who wants to understand the history, present and intended future of the UN’s efforts toward a more sustainable future.  It is clear, concise and a great service to historians of sustainability and those who must operationalize an agenda to optimize conditions for human development through time.”

-Gary Lawrence, Chief Sustainability Officer at AECOM

The Plain language Guide to Rio+20: Preparing for the New Development Agenda is a reader-friendly gateway to Rio +20 resources and outcomes that can equally guide the 'new comer' while also serving as a memo to the already engaged 

-Maruxa Cardama, Communitas Executive Project Coordinator

“Unfortunately, our global aspirations remain limited by a few remarkably change-resistant barriers: insufficient funding of international institutions, mendacity on the part of national leaders and a too-many military flash points. 

Fortunately, in the face of such intransigence, we have the latest book from Felix Dodds, Jorge Laguna- Celis and Liz Thompson.  Of all his publications, The Plain Language Guide is Felix's most accessible and encouraging. Dodds continues to work with other sustainable development advocates from the UN, governments and stakeholders to produce the indispensable resources for the serious global actor. I cannot imagine where we'd be across the world without him. “

-Don Edwards, Chief Executive Officer, Justice and Sustainability Associates



The year of negotiating precariously


This is a reproduction of the Guardian article written by myself and Michael Strauss 'The year of negotiating precariously' in the Guardian on the 23rd of July 2015 which can be read on the Guardian web site here. Or you can read it here.
The year 2015 may be recorded as one of the most extraordinarily successful – or disastrous – years in the history of international diplomatic negotiations.
Most have been well reported – the recent agreement with Iran –the Pacific trade agreement. The Eurozone’s probably tragic imposition of controls over Greece.
Each of these takes on critical geopolitical, macroeconomic, or environmental crises. But almost none of them addresses the pervasive social, cultural and micro economic crises that afflict up to 2 billion people on a daily basis. Those are the invisible personal crises of poverty, hunger, sickness, and non-education which cumulatively play an integral role in building and triggering the more ominous, more obvious, and easily reported on threats.
Almost completely out of major media view, the 194 UN member nations are wrapping up three years of talks on a model that will guide the next 15 years of global policy decision making. It is dedicated to providing every person on the planet with necessary food, water, energy, health care, housing, jobs and education, as well as assuring their rights, freedoms and access to information. It attempts to sustain oceans, forests, agriculture, land ecosystems, and the earth’s climate.
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) were initiated at the UN Rio+20 summit in 2012. And although Rio+20 was dismissed at the time by many as either sadly disappointing, or an outright failure, it has become increasingly clear that the conference played a similar role to that played by the Brundtland Commission for the Earth summit in 1992. It created a framework to integrate environmental, economic and social policy that would be sustainable far into the future.
It also agreed on an ambitious attempt to merge the sustainable development policy agenda with the earlier, often distinct, development policy agenda that in many national and UN agencies still functions separately.
To accomplish all this, Rio+20 set in motion a complex processes that will culminate in September.
The sustainable development goals
The major part was the SDG process. It has agreed 17 goals and 169 targets that will all but certainly be accepted with a couple of small changes to a few targets.
And while it’s true that the 17 SDGs are far more numerous and complex than their eight predecessor MDGs, that very complexity has allowed them to address issues with a breadth of cooperation and intentional specificity. This achieved the buy-in of a vast range of governmental, non-governmental and private sector actors whose active cooperation will be critical to achieving their successful implementation in the far more economically complex and politically turbulent world of 2015.
The only outstanding issue being negotiated is the political declaration of this transformational agenda that will be presented to the heads of state of all nations to agree when they meet in 
September in New York.
The most difficult question still being negotiated is determining how the new goals and targets should be funded.
As we write, Financing for Development (FfD) – a process that grew out of the traditional development programme funding track and was tasked with providing the answer – has just concluded a major conference in Ethiopia. Its results fail to elaborate the financial architecture or the required funds for financing the SDGs. There is no certainty these can be added on before September.
That could be disastrous. A funding failure would seriously undermine both the confidence of poorer countries in the commitment of wealthier countries, and limit the overall chances of the SDGs’ implementation success.
Such a failure would also drastically increase the pressure on the separate climate financing negotiations currently in progress to support any agreements on climate in Paris.
Climate change
This year will end with the one of the biggest pieces of the post-2015 policy jigsaw – the UNFCC Climate Conference in Paris.
Similar to the SDGs, the climate agreement is looking for funding. In Copenhagen, $100 bn was promised per year by 2020. By 2014 the fund had mobilised $10.2 bn. A shortfall of commitments will put addition strain on negotiations as developing countries look to see funding for the Green Climate Fund.
But there have been significant developments since Copenhagen to indicate that some of the necessary political will is now in place for an agreement that will require actions by all countries that will be broad, but may be voluntary.
And in the very specificity of their targets, the SDGs help deal with dynamics like this.
The reaction of the media
But for the SDGs to succeed, they will require broad public understanding and cooperation. The role of media will become essential. And that will prove a challenge.
A primary misunderstanding is that the SDGs are very different form the millennium goals agreed in 2000. The SDGs are universal – not just for developing countries. They cover all of sustainable development – not just traditional development issues.
The process to agree the goals has been one of the most inclusive ever, from intense intergovernmental consultations to hundreds of stakeholder meetings in every region.
Danny Sriskandarajah, secretary general of CIVICUS, a global alliance of grass roots organisations, echoes what many of the NGOs who were active in the MDGs but who were initially skeptical of the SDGs, now seem to think of the Post 2015 agenda: “The process so far has been more inclusive than many of us expected and the resulting document is stronger than we anticipated. But now everything rests on member states to commit themselves to an ambitious framework that surpasses the meagre expectations of global governance.”
Tomorrow is today
The SDGs represent a new paradigm in intergovernmental policy substance – and in the process that has created them.
And in a year of extraordinarily complex and critical global crisis negotiations, the biggest, broadest, possibly most idealistic – but ultimately the most essential – might be the one almost nobody of the general public has heard anything about yet.

Felix Dodds is an author and a senior fellow at the UNC Global Research Institute and an associate fellow at the Tellus Institute. Michael Strauss is the executive director of Earth Media, an independent political and communications consultancy based in New York

July 2015

It has been a busy month and not yet over

It saw the launching of my 12th book called ‘Governance for Sustainable Development’ edited with: Hoonmin Lim, Sara Luna, Oana Rebedea, David Banisar and Quinn McKew The book represents the first book by the ‘Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development’ which is co-chaired by the governments of Mexico, Romania and the Republic of Korea there is a free download here.



You may be interested in the article Michael Strauss and I wrote that appeared in the Guardian last week called:The year of negotiating precariouslythe article looks at the development of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Financing for Development Conference and the upcoming Climate Change Summit in Paris in November. 

A much more colourful day in the basement of the United Nations Vienna Cafe.


June 2015




Enjoying time with my children - Merri and Robin - in Key West while working on two books the Governance for Sustainable Development and 'The Nexus of Resource Security: Water, Food, Energy and Climate'. Both are due in by the end of August.  


May 2015



Working on the twelfth book a series of chapters based on the three workshops that were held by the government Friends of Governance for Sustainable development. The book will be out as an e-book in late July. It will be the second e-book by New World Frontiers.  




April 2015


One of the conferences I engaged in in the 1990s and have fond memories of is the 1996 Habitat II Conference, which adopted the Habitat Agenda. I remember it in part because it achieved the most progressive stakeholder engagement in a UN Conference ever. I also have very fond memories of it because I made a lifelong friend in the Chair of the Conference Pakistan Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel who went on to be Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. In Habitat II I was the coordinator of the NGO negotiating team working under the International Facilitating Committee (IFC) a Major Group platform that managed their engagement in the conference. 

April saw the second preparatory meeting for Habitat III held in Nairobi. I had the pleasure of organizing and running a workshop on How to Lobby with Nicholas You both of us had been active at Habitat II..The Habitat III Conference is a critical one for all stakeholders interested in making the SDGs have impact. By focusing on a geographical area it will help to engage all stakeholders to help deliver the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda – which by the way should be built on the SDGs.

Local and Regional Governments, civil society and the private sector will play a critical role in facilitating the implementation of both and one of the key outcomes that we need out of Habitat III is a new partnership agenda worthy of the 21st century.





March 2015

Lecturing at University of North Carolina in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium on the Sustainable Development Goals. 

If you want to follow the developments on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Financing for Development Conference or Habitat III then do read my blog. 



February 2015

While in Bonn at the preparatory meeting for Eye on Earth I took a moment out to meet my 'boss Jurgen Nimptch, Mayor of Bonn. I had the pleasure to work with him and his team when I was chair of the 2011 UN DPI NGO Conference  Sustainable Societies - Responsive Citizens. Last year he invited me to join the 'International Ambassadors' for the City of Bonn which I was very happy to accept.


I had been unable to go to the original ceremony so this gave me a chance also to pick up my special bottle of wine.


January 2015


Presenting a paper at the second workshop of the government Friends of Sustainable Development Governance organized by the governments of Korea, Mexico and Romania. 

A full room for the Friends of Sustainable Development Governance with over 90 attending. 

A Training session on How to Advocate for the new stakeholders attending the Stocktaking event on the SDGs in New York. Organized by the Tellus Institute, Civicus and Beyond 2015 with support from UNDSD


January saw the thirty year reunion of the National League of Young Liberals meeting in Leicester. I had the pleasure of chairing NLYL from 1985-87 and participating in what was know as the 'Green Guard'. Attending was also one of great Young Liberals,  Bernard Greaves, from the 'Red Guard' era (1965-1975) and co-author of the seminal work ' The Theory and Practice of Community Politics'.

The Green Guard were famous for bringing green politics to the then Liberal Party and in facilitating  the defeat of the Liberal leader David Steel over Defence - in particular over the issue of the UK having an independent Nuclear deterrent which it had historically opposed

The Red Guard are known for being at the forefront of the anti apartheid movement, civil liberties, anti war and of course developing the ideas behind community politics.  A day of politics and remembering those YLs no longer with us was had. An article will be developed in the coming months around the theme of  a hung parliament and the opportunities for a rainbow coalition across party boundaries.