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Need for research collaboration in a climate vulnerable world

  • Published at 04:32 pm August 11th, 2020
Need for research collaboration in a climate vulnerable world
Photo: Courtesy

How a Bangladesh-UK research collaboration is going to help in addressing and taking actions against climate change impacts

Climate change is posing enormous challenges for the whole world and to overcome these challenges, the world needs to come together for finding solutions and implementing actions. Countries around the world are collectively working to address the climate emergency through international climate negotiations and agreements as well as through collaboration among climate researchers and experts.

The idea of collaborative research is not new; it happens nationally and internationally around the world among researchers, academics and university students. The appeal for research collaboration comes from a variety of interests - developing new ideas, sharing knowledge and expertise, building skills and capacity, having access to specialized equipment or gaining new sources for funding.

As climate change is a global issue that needs immediate action, collaboration among researchers from different parts of the world can play a vital role in generating effective climate research that can be transformed into policy. Research provides evidence and collaborative research has the potential to develop more systematic evidence, which can then be used to pursue policy arguments and practical action on the ground. In this regard, collaborative research efforts between universities with a focus on climate change is a timely demand.

To address the need for tackling climate change impacts, capacity building and translating research into policy plans and actions – the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and the London School of Economics (LSE) jointly hosted a webinar as part of London Climate Action Week 2020.

The discussion ensued a proposed 5-year-long project to facilitate transdisciplinary and equitable collaboration among researchers in Bangladesh and the UK to address climate change impacts, poverty and development. The roundtable discussion included distinguished experts and researchers from the UK and Bangladesh including Prof Saleemul Huq, Director at ICCCAD, Independent University of Bangladesh; Prof David Lewis, LSE; Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of Environment Agency, DEFRA, UK; Saida Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner in the UK; Judith Herbertson, Head of DFID, Bangladesh; Terry Cannon, IDS, University of Sussex; Prof Julian Williams, Durham University; and Prof AKM Saiful Islam, BUET. 

This partnership will allow collaborative research work to be built from Bangladesh’s experience of tackling extreme climatic events. In addition, Bangladesh’s leading role in climate change adaptation and the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and the UK’s presidency in COP26 as well as the history of the relationship between UK and Bangladesh researchers and universities - marks the relevancy of these two countries working together. The partnership will provide both countries with equal opportunities for capacity building and acquiring knowledge and expertise in regards to environment and climate change. 

Linking universities in the UK and Bangladesh in order to generate high quality and effective climate research using functional data which can later be transformed into policy plans and actions is one of the main principles of this research collaboration – as expressed by Prof David Lewis.

So, how is this research collaboration between the universities going to help in addressing and taking actions against climate change impacts?

First of all, Article 11 of the Paris Agreement emphasizes the capacity building of countries that are vulnerable to climate change impacts where universities are regarded as key stakeholders in this effort.

To operationalize the potential of university students and academics is particularly important to achieve this goal of capacity building against the adverse effects of climate change. The engagement of youth in climate change policy talks is another goal that can be accomplished through this joint research. Similar consensus was echoed from the participants’ side as well – universities can act as an efficient bridge between the local and regional governments as well as play important roles in translating research into policy. 

The voices of youth in regards to climate action have been very loud recently and their demands are being heard. It is important that they have a coherent platform to present their thoughts and ideas. Youth participation in governance and climate negotiations as well as in climate research is highly necessary as they will face the worst climate conditions; they need to be prepared and they need to be engaged.

Young researchers from Bangladesh and the UK universities who have keen interest in investigating climate change issues can learn and broaden their knowledge through this joint research program.

The aim of the program to translate “research into action” – can influence young researchers to generate feasible research works that can eventually be put into practice rather than conducting research which in the end do not result in any substantial actions. Also providing funding and scholarships can lead to greater opportunities for young researchers who want to contribute in tackling climate change.

Bangladesh is often at the frontline of climatic threats and vulnerability, and faced with the adverse effects of climate change, the country has been working towards enhancing its responsive capacity to such adversity. The country is often considered as a ‘Climate Adaptation Lab’ and has a lot of knowledge to share to the world.

A collaborative research initiative that promotes cross-learning between the UK and Bangladesh, with universities acting as the central hub for knowledge exchange and intervention, can revolutionize the climate change front for both countries while enhancing the long-term capacity.

Samina Islam is working at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development as an intern. Her research interests include Human Security, Climate Policy, Climate Migration and Displacement.

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