Kigali Declaration: Climate Science Key to Sustainable Future

Kigali Declaration: Climate Science Key to Sustainable Future

Climate experts and scientists have issued the Kigali Declaration, a collective call for climate action.

Climate experts and scientists at the World Climate Research Programmes (WCRP) Open Science Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, in late October 2023, issued the Kigali Declaration, a collective call for climate action. The aim of the five-day conference was to discuss international climate science – the latest findings and future challenges – and the actions required to mitigate the effects of and adapt to climate change. Two days were dedicated to engaging early and mid-career climate researchers working on related social science issues, charting a path for an inclusive, diverse, equitable and sustainable future for the planet.

The 1 400 participants agreed that diversity in climate research – in particular, through the inclusion of scientists in Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States – is a requirement to address the challenges associated with climate change as these countries are already experiencing disproportionate climate impacts. The conference’s organizers had made a conscious effort to ensure the participation of researchers from such countries.

The discussions highlighted the complex and cascading effects of climate change, their impacts and the gaps in our understanding in the different regions of the world. “Participants acknowledged that human-induced climate change and other human impacts on the environment are among the major reasons behind the polycrises and rising inequalities currently faced by the world,” said Professor Dr Detlef Stammer, co-chair of the conference. He further highlighted the urgency of the problems that society is facing.

All the positive energy and enthusiasm for bringing about “change” resulted in the Kigali Declaration, which gathered 734 signatures. The Declaration specifically calls on three audiences:

  1. The global community to urgently act now to address climate change
  2. The climate science community to accelerate and amplify the relevance, impact and benefit of its research for science and society, enabling transformative actions
  3. On agencies, governments and the private sector to substantially increase their multilateral, accessible and equitable investment in the development of actionable climate information, and the implementation of climate adaptation options and loss and damage assessments founded on climate science.

“The Kigali Declaration comes at a critical time where human impacts on the Earth’s climate system are contributing to a world of cascading risks,” remarked Dr Helen Cleugh, co-chair of the conference. “It calls for urgent and transformative actions by the global community and decision-makers; by the climate science community, especially WCRP and its partners around the world; and public and private sector agencies and funders.”

In addition to the call for action, the Declaration includes a Science Supplement that provides a synthesis of the main scientific outcomes of the conference, which will be used by WCRP and the international community to guide future research efforts.

WCRP is already moving in this direction, introducing new science activities and initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in climate research. Some examples include the new Global Precipitation Experiment (GPEX) Lighthouse Activity. GPEX focuses on precipitation processes and improving predictive capabilities internationally. Another is the new WCRP Academy web portal, which will bring together various training providers to equip current and future climate scientists with the skills and knowledge required to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. And a new Global Fellowship program to be launched later this year will fund future climate scientists in Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States as a first step towards supporting true diversity in climate science.

WCRP Open Science Conference hosted in Kigali, Rwanda

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