Two expert reports address biodiversity and climate futures

June 17, 2024

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Biodiversity loss and climate change are interrelated issues requiring local, national, and international cooperation and action. Two new reports published at the national and international level focus on action-oriented research designed to help policymakers steer governments towards a sustainable future.

On the national front, Sustainability in the Digital Age (SDA) and Future Earth Canada contributed to an Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) report exploring how “Science and knowledge needs to support Canada’s implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.”

The co-authored work from 63 researchers, including former SDA Executive Director Éliane Ubalijoro and current Advancements Manager Andréa Ventimiglia, highlights issues surrounding biodiversity loss in Canada and effective ways forward under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.   

Eight key concepts were identified in the report, giving guidance to policymakers on concrete steps to take that will “support transformative change to address biodiversity loss including 1) more effectively transforming biodiversity knowledge into action, 2) centering Indigenous Peoples and knowledge systems, 3) broadening the lens through which we understand and approach conservation through social science and humanities research, 4) improved collaboration across and within sectors, 5) conservation planning and management with on-the-ground resource users, 6) improved data management, 7) holistic integration across Framework targets, and 8) understanding how to scale biodiversity information from local to national scales.”

Co-authors also suggested “cross-cutting areas of research that could generate important information 1) evaluating the effectiveness of current biodiversity management actions, 2) developing Indigenous biodiversity initiatives to enable the full participation of Indigenous peoples in biodiversity management, 3) enhancing efforts to include social science research in conservation, and 4) identifying how societies and cultures value natural capital and ecosystem services.”

The full report is available in Canada’s Federal Open Science Repository.

On the international front, a new report from the Future Earth community concludes that three elements – transdisciplinarity, a systems approach, and transformation of how institutions conduct and fund research – will be critical to address climate change and biodiversity loss in the coming years.

The expert report – Towards Sustainable Transformation – Research Priorities in Climate Change and Biodiversity – gathered over 120 community inputs from multiple scientific disciplines and was launched June 11 at the European Commission Delegation Office in Helsinki in parallel to the 2024 Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress. 

The European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation invited Future Earth to issue this independent expert report to inform the European Union’s €95 billion flagship research funding program, Horizon Europe, for 2025 and beyond. The objective of the report is to provide recommendations to the European Commission and any other relevant research and funding entities, on what climate change and biodiversity research must prioritize in the near-term to maximize the societal relevance and impact of public funds.

In the report, researchers from around the world highlight key questions and research gaps that may have the greatest impact on accelerating an evidence-based sustainability transition. The three cross-cutting elements in all chapters, transdisciplinarity, a systems approach, and the need for transformation in research, are emphasized across such topics such as planetary health, societal values, governance, the role of policy instruments, the use of big data and emerging tools, and new paradigms of science information exchange. These chapter themes and questions represent a departure from traditional academic methodologies. They necessitate the collaboration of interdisciplinary teams, involving scientists from all backgrounds, including social sciences and humanities, and require academic institutions to evolve in their capacity to engage with policy makers and stakeholders effectively.

The full report is available in the Publications Office of the European Union.