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Collaboration and Scientist Involvement - Emily Boyd Comments on Global Risks Report 2018

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Research in collaboration with vulnerable groups, and scientist and citizen involvement are some of the ways forward to address the environmental risks that experts believe will have the most impact in the next ten years. Emily Boyd, Director at LUCSUS, comments on the recently released Global Risks Report 2018.

According to the report, extreme weather events, natural disasters, failure of climate change mitigation and water crises, accounted for four out of the five risks seen as the most likely to have an impact over the next ten years.

Research in Collaboration with Vulnerable and At-risk Groups

– Extreme weather events impact most on vulnerable and at risk groups. We as researchers need to continue to develop research in collaboration with these groups; we need to find better ways to involve them in understanding decisions that are imperative to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Since there are real costs involved both in terms of human lives, livelihoods and ecosystems, says Emily Boyd.

Scientists also need to continue to critically analyse and explore who has access to energy, land, water and food, in a world where inequality is growing between the small number of rich people and the majority poor.

– As scientists, our role is to ask critical questions at the same time as we can do better in joining in with and involving vulnerable groups in our research. I see a justice and responsibility dimension becoming more important: who has access, who pays, and what needs and concerns are met in rolling out new attempts to solve sustainability challenges? 

Scientist and Citizen Involvement 

Scientist and citizen involvement is another key area.

– Scientists and citizens need to connect to drive change. Many researchers talk about the importance to communicate science, but it has never been more important than today. If we don’t succeed with being aware of how we create an impact, we may fail to understand and tackle environmental risks such as extreme weather, water crises and disasters.

She sees the arts as a possible tool to create this connection, especially since it can be a means to reach out to a wider range of citizen groups.

– Arts and culture can elicit an emotional response in us as humans, something that can be used as a basis to take in new knowledge, and communicate research to young people and people outside academia.

Scrutiny of International and National Level Frameworks

Yet, she says that any attempt to address environmental risks and sustainability challenges needs to be supplemented by a continued scrutiny and assessment of international and national frameworks.

– We need to continually ask ourselves if these frameworks are sufficient to drive change. Especially since the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Can we rely on frameworks going forward, especially since geopolitical fragmentation is on the rise? 

The Sustainable Development Goals, SDG:s, also need to be analysed and continually discussed, according to Emily Boyd. Despite advances, the SDG:s, have a lot to deliver on in terms of energy access, sustainable water management, and creating an accord between entrenched or disenfranchised groups in urban areas. 

– As I see it, we need to work on all levels to meet and address the challenges now facing us. We need to continue to do the best possible science, reach out to and engage citizens and continue to critically assess the various frameworks nation states operate under, she concludes.
 

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