Engaging Researchers in the Net-Zero Transition

On 15 July, Guillermo Ciscneros Perez, Mikael Östling and Tim Bedford presented at the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2022
20th July 2022
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On 15 July, our association, together with our Call to Action partners, the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), Science Europe and the University of Strathclyde, organised a session to discuss how to engage researchers to achieve the Net-Zero Transition as part of the EuroScience Open Forum 2022 (ESOF 2022).

During the COP26 in Glasgow (UK), our Call to Action was launched as a joint initiative of research funding and performing organisations and international university networks. Based on a shared vision of “a world where research and education communities work together and in interaction with industry and society at large to solve urgent global challenges”, the four partners proposed to develop coordinated activities. To navigate the complex challenge of reducing emissions of research activities and universities, the promoters advocate for a systems-thinking approach engaging the different research and education communities. We want to lead by example, presenting their practices and calling other research organisations to join this international, collective effort.

The ESOF 2022 forum was a relevant and timely opportunity to discuss the urgent, needed actions to be taken by the research communities at all levels. The rapid transformation of our societies requires new forms of research funding programmes, university activities and sustainable campuses across Europe and beyond. These experiences should be presented and critically discussed with the research community because business-as-usual can no longer be an option. In this context, research activities should directly reduce their emissions. Moreover, research communities should get organised to provide coherent science-informed advice to decision-makers, governments and the business sector.

The session was opened by Tim Bedford who presented our Call to Action, recalled the reasons the four organisations came together during the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), and the perspectives for future cooperation expanding the network of engaged organisations.

Panelists then presented different viewpoints, from universities to research funding and performing organisations, focusing on the following key aspects:

  • Responding to the complexity of the Net-Zero challenges by addressing them in an interdisciplinary way.
  • Reducing our own organisational carbon footprint.
  • Supporting the Net-Zero Transition in policymaking at all levels.
  • Facing the challenges together.

Each speaker shared good practices and offered inspiring concrete actions and solutions on how to work together to best realise the Net-Zero Transition:

We ended the session announcing our next side event to the COP27 on 3 November and our two new additional partners in this endeavour: the European University Association (EUA) and the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA).

For more information, please contact our Advisor for Innovation & Sustainability Louise Drogoul.

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