Title Highlight: Scientists respond to climate change challenges at Our Common Future conference

April 14, 2016

More than 2,200 leading scientists and researchers assembled at the “Our Common Future under Climate Change” scientific conference in Paris, France, in July. The conference aimed to address key climate-related issues ahead of the 21st United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change (UNFCC) conference, to be hosted by France later this year.

In addressing four themes (state of knowledge on climate change; landscapes of our common future; responses to climate change challenges; and collective action and transformative solutions), the conference underscored the relationship between science and policy, and the importance of including all stakeholders in seeking solutions. 

Call for quick action

Global warming has been unprecedented since the 1950s. Maintaining a global mean temperature below 2ºC will be very challenging if bold and decisive action is not taken, plenary sessions noted. The “window for action” is quickly closing, said Youba Sokona, a co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group. 

Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, a conference keynote speaker, debunked claims that it would be unwise to attempt to deal with climate change when the world is recovering, and in some cases still affected by, a global economic recession. "Retrofitting economies to make them climate-friendly will stimulate global demand for goods and services, meaning that climate responses have the potential to stimulate economic growth and reduce inequality," he said.

Presenting the voices of Southern-led research

As one of the leading global funders of climate change adaptation research, IDRC supported 33 developing countries researchers to present findings at the conference. IDRC also co-hosted two parallel sessions on “Planning and assessing adaptation: frameworks, methods and results” and “Climate finance at scale: emerging opportunities.”  About 20 IDRC grantees presented their work in various forums including during parallel and poster sessions.

Edith Ofwona Adera, senior program specialist with IDRC’s climate change program, noted the need to double efforts in support of Southern-based researchers so as to have more evidence emanating from the global south represented at scientific conferences. "There is need for research that supports South-South and North-South interactions so as to ensure that science emanating from developing countries can also shape important decisions that will be taken," she said.

Conference outcomes

The conference outcome statement urges the scientific community to commit to “understanding all dimensions of the challenge, aligning the research agenda with options for solutions, informing the public, and supporting the policy process.” This marks a shift from a problem focus to a more constructive and progressive effort to a solution-based approach.

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