We need access to climate change knowledge

Climate change is a multifaceted issue with many dimensions. We are mobilizing researchers, national governments, funders, and environmental organizations to tackle the aspect of access to knowledge about climate change by working directly with them and providing support.



Iryna Kuchma, Open Access Program Manager Electronic Information for Libraries. Her responsibilities include advocacy of open access to research results and support in developing open access policies, training and support in setting up and interconnecting open repositories, and organizing workshops and other knowledge-sharing events. She is also involved in the Open Climate Campaign.

Open Science Platform: How did the Open Climate Campaign start?

Iryna Kuchma: A group of open access and open science activists - Cable Green from Creative Commons, Melissa Hagemann from Open Society Foundations, Heather Joseph from SPARC, Frances Pinter from Central European University Press, and Peter Suber from Harvard University got together to brainstorm on what we learned from open research sharing on COVID-19 and how to apply that knowledge to addressing climate change, and the resulting harm to our global biodiversity as one of the world's most pressing challenges. EIFL was invited to join the discussions bringing our Global South perspective.

And we were very happy that Daisy Larios from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Ross Mounce from Arcadia Fund, Madeleine Thompson from Wildlife Conservation Society, and Marcos Vinícius Carneiro Vital from Universidade Federal de Alagoas in Brazil accepted our invitations to join the campaign steering committee.

What are the biggest challenges in putting open science into practice in climate research?

Iryna Kuchma: While the existence of climate change and the resulting loss of biodiversity is certain, knowledge and data about these global challenges and the possible solutions, mitigations, and actions to tackle them are too often not publicly accessible. Climate change is a multifaceted issue with many dimensions. We are mobilizing researchers, national governments, funders, and environmental organizations to tackle the aspect of access to knowledge about climate change by working directly with them and providing support.

And I am afraid the challenges in practicing open science in climate research are similar to the challenges in practicing open science in any other research area - lack of clear policies and incentives, lack of skills, support structures, and guidance to manage and share data, traditional research assessment approaches that don't reward researchers for sharing publications and data. Our campaign focuses on bringing attention to the need, particularly in climate research, to have access to this knowledge but also recognizes these barriers. As such, we are working hand-in-hand with national governments, environmental organizations, and funders to supersede these barriers and develop policies and training to implement them.

How will the Campaign engage environmental organizations?

Iryna Kuchma: We are now identifying and convening the environmental organizations to endorse the campaign and make open sharing of research outputs the expected norm for researchers and funders in climate science and biodiversity. We will help organizations to create, adopt and implement open science policies and share their climate change and biodiversity content, including their educational resources, with the public.

One of my first interactions was with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) - an intergovernmental knowledge and learning centre working on behalf of the people of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). It's based in Kathmandu, Nepal and works in and for eight regional member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan to improve the lives and livelihoods and protect mountain environments and cultures. The knowledge ICIMOD creates and shares helps the people of the HKH become more resilient, make the most of new opportunities, and prepare for change. It also strengthens regional cooperation for the conservation and sustainable mountain development. We would like to showcase ICIMOD's climate and biodiversity research, and support ICIMOD in advancing its open access to publications and data-sharing practices.

 Is there a place for citizen science in this area? How can citizens get involved?

Iryna Kuchma: Citizen science plays an important role in biodiversity research - from mapping and sharing observations on biodiversity across the globe on iNaturalist to complex projects like Crowd4SDG fostering practical innovations developed by young citizen scientists from all over the world, using artificial intelligence. Participants between the ages of 16 and 26 submitted projects that tackled water-related issues such as droughts, access to clean water, and flooding.

Co-designed  ACTION Accelerator programme is another example that supports local citizen science projects across Europe reaching communities that are underrepresented in science e.g. those with visual impairments, by providing intensive support, peer-to-peer mentoring, and training when analyzing or collecting data on various types of pollution. One such ACTION initiative in PO Valley, Italy, called WOWnature seeks to measure air pollution, gathering data using quality sensors in forests run by citizens' groups and financed through the web-based platform for forest finance. Another pilot, Open Soil Atlas consists of a website in Berlin, Germany, that presents data in an infographic form to raise awareness about soil quality and fertility highlighting the correlation between healthy soil and healthy communities. A similar success, yet more global in nature, the Restart Data Workbench project seeks to address mass consumerism by tackling the increasingly ephemeral, single-use nature of household electronics. By collecting data about attempted repairs at community repair events, the aim is to analyze sustainable consumption patterns with a view to influencing policy discussions internationally.

Citizen Science groups can get involved by endorsing the campaign, openly sharing their research results, and telling their colleagues about the campaign and open science tools. We are always looking for ways to grow the campaign and would be interested in exploring ways to involve citizens.

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