Partnerships

As we are on the finishing day for COP18/CMP8 the science around climate change is yet again taking centre stage. The evidence from the science community is compelling and clear, and partnership between countries will probably be able to advance the agenda even further.

As an observer with Qatar Sustainability Network, I was allowed into an informal ministerial session on Wednesday. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in his keynote made clear again that to fight the global climate crisis, partnerships are needed. They are multidimensional and expected to address the full spectrum of agendas climate change prompts. “Climate change is not an environmental issue for ministers only; it poses a challenge for all policy makers including [those overseeing issues like] transport and finance,” he said.

There are clear country-wide challenges to take care of. The French co-chair of the session mentioned the Philippines who are again tackled by another typhoon and spend around 5% of their GDP to repair damages. Later that night, the negotiator from the Philippines made a powerful statement on behalf of his country which is widely covered.

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We really need to “abandon silos” (Ki-moon)

There is interesting and exciting work going on between China and the USA with the Centre of Climate Strategies, but I was really exited to learn about the latest research links forming between the developed and the developing world.

Qatar Foundation earlier that day singed with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and will provide a research bridge between the east and west, the north and south, and the developing and the developed world. The institute was founded with great foresight in 1991.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people shared in the enthusiasm and joined hands in believing the east-west conflict might be over and free resources to tackle climate change. “In 1992, people thought about the entire planet, not the east-west conflict,” Professor Schellnhuber, founder of the PIK, said at the signing press conference today.

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(l-r)H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Mr. Faisal Al-Suwaidi, H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Ban Ki-moon, Professor Chellnhuber and Christiana Figueres

The centre aims to take a 360 degree view, focusing on science, technology and policy, dealing with all aspects of climate change, from eteorology to policy (and I would guess that this would include finance as well since it underscored virtually every issue at the conference).

Qatar is located in an arid region, and the centre aims to internationalise the research and bring PIK’s renowned analytical capacity to contribute to global solutions.

Professor Schellnhuber is firmly rooted in fundamental sciences, and the centre shall be set up with the principles of best scientific practices and could lead to the creation of other thinktanks. If the evidence is there, he believes they will be transformed into action. And in applying these principles, I believe that both regions can learn from each other.

This new centre–which has the support of Ban Ki-moon, Christiana Figueres and, last but not least, the leadership of Qatar Foundation, represented in the meeting by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and QF president of research, Faisal Al Suwaidi–could contribute substantially to the challenges we are facing. Al Suwaidi believes that they are transforming research in bringing the cooperation together.

Communication and the integration of leading climate change research into the global research community will be as important as bringing the best science. We have to act quickly, and the entire Qscience Team is hoping to work together with the new research centre to help advise on scholarly communication strategies and ensure that the research world will connect quickly and transparently into the development in this region.

Innovative partnerships are needed to advance us all on the global stage. On Friday speaking on behalf of the Qatar Sustainability Network, Noor Jassim al-Thani summed it up perfectly in her closing statement of the high level segment:

Noor Jassim al-Thani speaking at the High Level segment

Noor Jassim al-Thani

“We need partnerships between east and west, north and south, developed and developing world, arid and and non-arid regions–partnerships involving governments, industry, financial institutions, education, research and science. Partnerships which help us here to bridge the knowledge gap.”

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Article 6 of the Convention: Youth, Youth Day, and the “Youth Article” and what it means for Scholarly Publishing

Thursday was Youth Day at COP18. This meant that many young people got a taste of COP, and it was great seeing them here all over the QNCC. They protested, among other actions, including a flashmob.

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I was greeted in the morning by this group of WAGGS, and intrigued by their demand for public access to information. I asked Camilla Born, from World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts how important education and availability of open data is to them:

Intrigued by this, I went on with my day – which continued highlighting the importance of getting young people involved. During his press briefing, the Chairman of the subcommittee, Fahad al Attiya, put the spotlight on some very bright young Qatari students, who shared their experience and activities for climate change. Picture Fahad as the chairman said, in the mid 90s, when there was only one flight to the UK, and no Internet, i.e., he did not have the same access to information we are used to today. So what a change to see the next generation being able to get educated on the mangrove mapping tool from Qatar foundation International and participating in exchange program’s focused on the environment.

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Going back to the Article 6 of the Convention, I really wanted to find out more, and tracked down the text of Article 6 of the convention:

ARTICLE 6: EDUCATION, TRAINING AND PUBLIC AWARENESS

In carrying out their commitments under Article 4, paragraph 1(i), the Parties shall:

(a) Promote and facilitate at the national and, as appropriate, subregional and regional levels, and in accordance with national laws and regulations, and within their respective capacities:

 (i) The development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects;

(ii) Public access to information on climate change and its effects;

(iii) Public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate responses; and

(iv) Training of scientific, technical and managerial personnel.

(b) Cooperate in and promote, at the international level, and, where appropriate, using existing bodies:

(i) The development and exchange of educational and public awareness material on climate change and its effects; and

(ii) The development and implementation of education and training programmes, including the strengthening of national institutions and the exchange or secondment of personnel to train experts in this field, in particular for developing countries.

So, what frequently is described as a Youth Education article suddenly becomes one of the most significant texts for publishers here at COP18/CMP8. Does this mean public access, as a mandate (or a non mandate in the same way as there are papers and non-papers at COP)?

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Christiana Figueres

I wondered whether the convention means that parties shall provide access to information on climate change? Digging around, I could not really find an answer, so went along to the very interesting and entertaining briefing session with Christiana Figueres.

Her briefing was done in the style of a quiz. Thinking that asking a very specialized question on publishing peer-reviewed information might not be what the audience is looking for, I listened patiently to the good news, that all countries have agreed to QELROs (commitments countries have made to cut greenhouse emissions under the Kyoto Protocol)–except Ukraine.

The briefing quickly went onto the subject of science, and the progress on those committees. “Science sees the situation as the atmosphere is seeing this … governments see this from their individual perspectives.” Running out of time, and not seeing many questions, I picked up all my inquisitive energy and asked the Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. This is clearly not a scholarly publishing conference, and she possibly did not immediately understand where I was coming from, I clarified my question with some very friendly banter, and used the UN as an example, who is setting a great example on making their reports available to the public. Her response was that the secretariat firstly makes all the data they produce available to the public (and the way this operates at COP, is simply amazing to see in action), and she would encourage increase of public access to information, including to peer-reviewed information.

Surely this can be picked up by future COPs, as a mandate of public access to climate change information would be amazing to advance the discussion. Many of the attendees are from NGOs, intergovernmental organisations who really would benefit from better access. Consultation is needed, and I am looking forward to discussing this further in the next coming days.

But then again, I wondered, why is this Article frequently referred to as the “Youth Article?”

— Arend Kuester