Symposium Interdisciplinarity for the Net-Zero transition | 3 November 2022

The symposium will take place as an online side event to the COP 27 on Thursday, 3rd of November 2022 (local time Brussels), and is kindly hosted by Science Europe.


On 8 November 2021, at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), CESAER, the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), Science Europe and theUniversity of Strathclyde organised a ‘Science for Net-Zero transition’ Symposium and launched a joint call for collective global action to tackle climate change by reducing and transitioning to Net-Zero emissions.

Six key areas of the Call to Action were identified as follows.

  • Responding to the complexity of the Net-Zero challenges by addressing them in an interdisciplinary way;
  • Developing the next generation of students and researchers for the Net-Zero Transition;
  • Reducing our own organisational carbon footprint;
  • Supporting the Net-Zero transition in policymaking at all levels;
  • Improving the shared understanding of what needs to be done;
  • Facing the challenges together.

full report on this challenge was published in March 2022 elaborating on this vision.

Since, the four partners have committed to reconvene at every COP to take stock of the progress made towards the Call to Action as well as seek more partners to join their cause. It is with this idea in mind that this year they organise this COP27 Symposium ‘Interdisciplinarity for The Net-Zero transition’ with the help of new partners: the European University Association (EUA) and the Network of Universities for the Capitals of Europe (UNICA).

Goals and format of the 2022 event

This joint event aims to take stock of past year’s achievements towards the Call to Action and show that only “acting together” the research system can contribute to the goals of the Net-Zero Transition. For this purpose, the chosen topic is ‘interdisciplinarity’, to conceptualise the way the various actors can cooperate. The event aims to focus on the concrete actions for the Net-Zero Transition, as performed by the different types of actors of the research system (universities, research funding and performing organisations, and policymakers). This open, online event has the following objectives:

  • Present the engagement of the promoting organisations for the Net-Zero Transition to their membership/constituencies;
  • Take stock of the progress of the Call to Action and the partners’ commitment to its cause;
  • Engage other actors of the (European) research and higher education systems for the Net-Zero Transition;
  • Advocate with stakeholders the importance of acting together.

In this framework, the proposed format for the event is as follows:

  1. A first panel discussion with experts from universities and research funding organisations, presenting practical examples of interdisciplinary projects necessary for the Net-Zero Transition from a researcher perspective.
  2. A second panel discussion with policy experts reflecting and discussing how results of interdisciplinary projects are shared with policymakers and society to lead the Net-Zero Transition at the national, regional and global level.
  3. A final panel discussion with the Presidents of each partner organisation. In this session,a keynote speaker will present the Sci4Net0 Call to Action and the new partners involved. Then the moderators of the first two sessions will report key messages from the first two panels. Finally, the Presidents will be taking stock of the progress made towards the Call to Action and present concrete actions and how they (can) act together to enhance the Net-Zero Transition.

The objective is to show the importance of acting together by presenting concrete interdisciplinary actions for the Net-Zero Transition.

Preliminary programme

14.00–14.05 Opening and welcome, by Lidia Borrell-Damián (Science Europe)

14.05–14.50 Panel I: the vision of research funders and universities

Panellists will discuss practical examples of interdisciplinary projects necessary for the Net-Zero Transition from a researcher’s perspective.

  • Moderated by Douglas HALLIDAY, Durham University & EUA Green Deal task-and-finish group
  • Matthew LAWSON, University of Edinburgh and coordinator of the UNICA Green & SDGs working group.
  • Alberto GARRIDO, Vice-Rector for Quality and Efficiency at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Secretary of CESAER Task Force Sustainability.
  • Malin MOBJÖRK, Senior Research Officer at Formas and Chair of the Science Europe’s working group on the Green and Digital Transition.
  • Elelwani RAMUGONDO, Acting Vice-Chancellor of Cape Town University (to be confirmed) .

14.50–15.35 Panel II: policy and international perspective

Panellists will be reflecting and discussing how the results of those interdisciplinary projects are communicated to policy makers and society in order to lead the Net-Zero Transition at the national, regional and global level.

  • Moderated by Nigel TOPPING, UN Climate Change High-Level Champions for COP26 (to be confirmed)
  • Pablo DEL RÍO, Researcher at CSIC (Spain) and member of Science Europe’s working group for the Green and Digital Transition.
  • Veronika Hunt SAFRANKOVA, Head of Brussels Office United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Speaker from Tec de Monterrey (to be confirmed)
  • Matt DOLF, University of British Columbia), Chair of the Health Promoting Campuses (to be confirmed)

15.35–15.50 break

15.50–17.15 Panel III: acting together for the Net-Zero Transition

(1) Moderators from Panel I and II reports the lessons learnt and propositions for improved collaboration between academic and non-academic players in society when contributing to the net-zero transition in an interdisciplinary way.

(2) Keynote presentation of the Sci4Net0 Call to Action and new partners.

(3) This session will be the opportunity for each organisation to reflect on the legacy of COP26 and look forward to COP27. The partners of the Call to Action will also be asked to present concrete evidence to take stock of the progress each organisation has made towards the Call to Action.

  • Moderated by Sir Jim McDonald (Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde) (to be confirmed)
  • Luciano SASO, President of UNICA 
  • Michael MURPHY, President of EUA 
  • Gisou VAN DER GOOT, President of International Sustainable Campus Network
  • Rik VAN DER WALLE, President of CESAER 
  • Angelika KALT, Vice-President of Science Europe (to be confirmed)

17.15–17.30 Concluding remarks and next steps

Symposium Interdisciplinarity for the Net-Zero transition | 3 November 2022



14:00 – 17:00 CEST