Science and the road to transformation after COP21

ICSU: Demonstrating system effects of Climate Change
ICSU: Demonstrating system effects of Climate Change

The International Council for Science (ICSU) convened a side-event on the eve of the climate science conference Our Common Future under Climate Change to highlight the potential of ICSU initiatives to contribute to the transformation envisaged to emerge with the global deal on reducing emissions in December this year.

With three major UN processes converging – the Sendai Framework in March, the SDGs which are expected to be approved in September and COP21 in Paris – ICSU’s co-sponsored initiatives have made a significant contribution to their scientific foundations.

An opening panel (Johan Rockström, Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre; Sylvie Lemmet from the French Environment Ministry; Halldor Thorgeirsson, Director for Strategy, UNFCCC Secretariat; and Virginia Murray, Vice-Chair of the UNISDR Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, acknowledged that “science is widening its scope towards more solutions-oriented, integrated science”.

The leadership of ICSU scientific initiatives presented breakthroughs in their research and challenges ahead. For IRDR, Executive Director R. Klein mentioned the pioneering work of integrated and co-designed research and the challenges in connecting DRR science to decision-makers at the local level in communities and business environments. Disaster risk reduction science was recognized by members of the panel, as key to climate change adaptation: systemic and cascading risks posed an additional challenge for researchers and practitioners alike.

During the open discussion, many participants agreed that there are indeed strong signals from civil society of wanting to join forces around an integrated research agenda. “There is urgency also from business leaders – they see us scientists as holders of insider information”. R. Klein and V. Murray invited the Climate Change community to join the science efforts during the SFDRR’s implementation and asserted that unlocking knowledge and turning it into opportunities would benefit the implementation of the Sendai Framework.