18 June 2015

Top Norwegian diplomat joins in identifying Mistra’s next climate initiative

How can Mistra best contribute to meeting the global climate threat? This question is to be addressed by an international expert panel headed by the Norwegian diplomat and climate negotiator Harald Dovland. The group’s conclusions will be presented at the beginning of next year.

‘The climate is the biggest environmental issue of all, and it’s important for Mistra to carry on supporting research in the area. The question is how we should move forward and what we should concentrate on from now on,’ says Thomas Nilsson at Mistra.

At present, Mistra is funding three climate-related research programmes. These are Mistra Indigo, on international climate instruments; Mistra-SWECIA on climate adaptation and vulnerability; and Future Forests, which addresses climate issues from a forest perspective. However, they are all approaching completion, either at year-end 2015 or at year-end 2016. Mistra’s Board has therefore decided to appoint an international expert panel.

‘The panel’s work will serve as a foundation for how we go further with climate research. Their conclusions will show whether there will then be one or more research programmes or a new centre.’

The panel, currently being recruited, will consist of between six and eight people with a solid academic background. This group will be headed by the well-qualified, now retired Norwegian diplomat Harald Dovland, who was Norway’s national climate negotiator for 12 years and also held leading positions in the UN for developing the global Convention on Climate Change.

Evaluating previous work

One of the panel’s tasks is to evaluate Mistra’s earlier initiatives in the area of climate change. Both researchers and other stakeholders will, for example, be invited to a series of hearings during the autumn. Thomas Nilsson points out that the panel will attempt to find concrete examples of the impact research has had on society.

‘It may be a matter of how research has resulted in measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases or improve society’s adaptation to climate change. But there are also examples of how research findings have made public agencies and other stakeholders change their guidelines or working methods,’ Nilsson says.

In their analysis, the panel will also weigh in the results from the UN’s December climate summit in Paris. The meeting will have a major impact on which climate measures will be most important in the years ahead, and thus where Mistra’s measures do most good,

‘Should Mistra invest in research in Sweden?’ Nilsson asks. ‘Or should it take place in international collaboration? Which control instruments will be the most important? These are a few key questions.

‘The expert panel’s work will be done in the autumn and winter, and a final report will be presented in February next year. The idea is that the conclusions will lead to one or more calls for research proposals in the area of climate change — as early as in 2016, we hope,’ Nilsson concludes.

Text: Henrik Lundström, Vetenskapsjournalisterna

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