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Strengthen science-policy exchange on 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement at COP23

From the 6th till the 17th of November 2017, the 23rd United Nations climate conference, COP23, took place in Bonn under the chairmanship of Fiji. This year’s COP, which endeavours to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), focused on specifying national contributions to climate change adaptation. The official political negotiations between the parties to the UNFCCC are accompanied by various events, in which representatives of different sectors from around the world share their perspectives on climate change. German Committee Future Earth, together with its partners, organised several events that outlined the contributions of science to climate and sustainability policy.


UNFCCC Side Event "Catalysing climate action, realizing the SDGs: 
science, interconnections & implementation" (Image: DKNFE)

The start was made by a UNFCCC Side Event jointly organised by German Committee Future Earth, DFG, the Inter American Institute on Global Change Research, the African Centre for Technology Studies and the German Development Institute, and in close cooperation with Future Earth and WCRP, on the 6th of November. The side event, moderated by Imme Scholz, deputy director at DIE, focused on the contributions of science and innovation to simultaneously implement the sustainable development goals and climate change commitments. Martin Visbeck, chairman of German Committee Future Earth and professor at GEOMAR, opened the event by emphasizing numerous possible interlinkages and interactions between climate change and the 2030 Agenda. His remarks were followed by short input statements by Maria Amparo Martinez, director INECC and delegate IAI, and by Leena Shrivastava, Vice Chancellor of TERI School of Advanced Studies, who demonstrated that the exchange between local political actors and the academic community is crucial for sustainable development. In an extended panel with Edith Adera, researcher at International Research Development Center, and Joanes Atela, researcher at ACTS, our scientists from Norway, India, Canada, Kenya and South America then discussed concrete measures for the implementation of such an exchange, also on the international level. International platforms such as Future Earth or WCRP can help to identify pathways towards sustainability by consolidating different strands of academic knowledge. Ultimately, Martin Visbeck highlighted, this is a responsibility of science: ‘scientists, rather than decision-makers, are tasked to bring scientific insights to the local and regional level’. They play a particularly important role in ensuring that the implementation of the different political aims incorporated in the 2030 Agenda does not conflict. Looking ahead at the possible outcomes of the COP23, Asun St. Clair of DNV GL Norway cautioned that ’we do not have another 25 years to implement the 2030 agenda’.


UNFCCC Science Hour "Carbon Pricing" (Image: DLRProjektträger)

In addition, the German Committee Future Earth and DFG organised a German Science Hour on carbon pricing at the UNFCCC German Pavilion, which was run by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Science (BMBF). On the 10th of November, Karen Pittel, member German Committee Future Earth and professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and ifo Institute Munich as well as Grischa Perino professor at University of Hamburg and Julia Bingler from Germanwatch convened this meeting. They outlined that Carbon pricing, in the form of carbon taxes and cap & trade schemes, is becoming an increasingly important pillar of climate policy around the world. During the German Science Hour, experts highlighted that carbon pricing could also help to overcome the cooperation problem at the global level. At the same time, concerns about effectiveness, persistently low prices, interactions with other instruments and distributional effects were raised by participants. The session gave an interdisciplinary perspective on the strength and limits of carbon pricing in the pursuit of a low-carbon and inclusive future.


Public Event COP23 "The contributions of cities to
Paris Agreement and SDGs" (Image: DKNFE)

Last but not least, the German Committee Future Earth invited the public to learn from local government officials and researchers about the contributions of cities to the Paris Agreement and to the Sustainable Development Goals. In co-operation with the city of Bonn and Future Earth' Global Hub in Paris, the German Committee Future Earth Co-Design Project Group “SDGs and cities” (chairs: Florian Koch, Kerstin Krellenberg, UFZ) gathered a variety of expert knowledge on that topic. The participants discussed with Ashok Sridharan, mayor of Bonn, the need of cities ‘to place greater emphasis on the process of a sustainable development." He said that “the city of Bonn already achieved in 2014 its own goal to reduce the CO2 emissions by 20 percent during the period between 1990 and 2020. One of several measures that made this possible is the cooperation with schools: 1.600 children have received a training as climate ambassadors.” In addition, Maria Alexandra Kurth, Cities Alliance Brussels, gave a keynote speech that provided a global perspective on urban sustainability. She pointed out: “If we don’t focus on cities on a global scale, we will not achieve sustainable development. Cities are accepted as global actors in order to realise sustainable development. Among others, cities require science to create the scientific base for climate protection measures.” Four panellists from urban practice, Reiner Erben, City of Augsburg, Peter Pätzold, City of Stuttgart, Cornelia Rösler, German Institute of Urban Affairs and Ashok Sridharan, then took a closer look at the situation in Germany. They agreed, that hard work is necessary to get “easily digestible portions” of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development at the local level. Peter Pätzold recommended pilot projects to promote sustainability in cities, for example, when new residential areas are planned. These discussions provided a stimulating prelude for the expert workshop that followed and had been organised by the Co-Design Project Group. In this workshop urban planning officials and scientists started to discuss a possible coordinated approach for research priorities on the implementation of SDGs in cities in Germany. Both meetings demonstrated that cities have the power to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs if they have the support of global and national institutions as well as of science.


Contact for inquiries:
J. Lundershausen , Secretariat German Committee Future Earth

See also:

in DFG Magazin (online, in German).

in IISDRS News

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