Research and university communities united to tackle global climate challenges
04 November 2022 | From UNICA - From partners
Ahead of COP27, research and university organisations join forces to renew the call for collective, common global efforts for climate action, launched last year.
The European Association of leading universities of science and technology (CESAER), the European University Association (EUA), the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), Science Europe, the Network of Universities in Capitals (UNICA), the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow the city hosting COP26, gathered on the 3rd of November to mobilise their expertise and call for cooperation in urgent climate actions.
The online symposium on “Interdisciplinarity for the Net-Zero Transition”, a lead-up event to COP27, was an opportunity for the six organisations to present their commitment for climate action, share good practice, concrete examples, and call for the mobilisation of research and higher education communities. In 2021, CESAER, ISCN, Science Europe and the University of Strathclyde, in the city of Glasgow which hosted COP26, launched a Call to Action for research performing and funding organisations and universities regarding the Net-Zero Transition. This year, EUA and UNICA joined the four partners in co-organising the COP27 lead-up symposium focused on “interdisciplinarity”.
Universities and research performing and funding organisations are key contributors to the global Net-Zero Transition effort in reducing their energy consumption and, most importantly, providing new insights into challenges, as well as solutions, including ‘green’ technologies and societal innovations. The climate crisis has multiple causes but only collective efforts and action, embedding whole-systems approaches will address and mitigate it effectively. Innovative and scientifically rigorous methods for estimating and mitigating increases in greenhouse gas and harmful emissions are needed to enable a more effective, robust and concentrated effort with resources being enabled for long-term investments to expedite the Net-Zero Transition.
The organisers propose a systemic approach where universities, national research performing organisations and research funding organisations shall work together, involving policymakers, business sectors, and non-government organisations, in Europe and globally.
Check some of the highlights by each of the leaders of the represented organisations, including from the UNICA President, Luciano Saso:
“With our commitment for the Net-Zero Transition, together with partners from the research and university systems, we want to mobilise policymakers and societal stakeholders in a collective effort for the most pressing challenge of our time: climate change,” Professor Rik Van de Walle, President of CESAER.
“European universities are committed to responding to societal concerns about the climate crisis, including by tailoring our educational offerings to ensure maximum impact through our graduates. The efforts and reforms we are seeing on the part of universities are informed by the demands of our students and engagement with our local communities, two drivers that are just as meaningful for climate action as regulations or targets for specific industries” Michael Murphy, President of EUA.
“The Net-Zero Transition is needed now, more than ever. The energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, and the lingering effects of COVID are all striking and dramatic revelations of the interconnectedness of our world, of which climate and sustainability are the ultimate examples. We are therefore committed to promoting international collaboration and working to build bridges between our institutions, to deepen our impact and accelerate our efforts toward realizing the Net-Zero Transition,” Professor Gisou van der Goot, President of ISCN.
“Interdisciplinary research is not a new concept: we know we need to further mobilise all disciplines and organisations to tackle the climate crisis. We have just published a report with the experiences of Science Europe members. We need to scale up these efforts and work together involving all disciplines, research partners and societal stakeholders,” Angelika Kalt, Vice-President of Science Europe.
“UNICA universities have the unique privilege of being in capital cities, which gives them the ability and the responsibility to influence European and government policies on the crucial challenges affecting our societies and our planet. We are determined to build on this specificity by encouraging our members to harness their academic research, innovative grit, and heterogeneous communities to impact policies in the direction of a green transition. We are committed to reach a sustainable future,” Professor Luciano Saso, President of UNICA.
“We share a vision of a world where research and education communities work together to solve urgent global challenges and believe that research and education will underpin a sustainable relationship between the use and preservation of natural resources, and human activity,” Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (UK).