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Kigali Declaration: Climate science for a sustainable future for all

Last October, climate scientists convened in Kigali, Rwanda, for the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Open Science Conference. The outcome was the Kigali Declaration, a powerful call for greater ambition and urgent action to address climate change.

The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) 2023 Open Science Conference met in Kigali from October 23 to 27 2023, bringing together over 1400 participants representing scientists from diverse research communities worldwide as well as practitioners, planners, and politicians. They discussed the current state and further evolution of inclusive international climate science, and the scientifically founded actions urgently needed to mitigate against and adapt to climate change.

This Kigali Declaration was prepared by conference participants. Its signatories acknowledge that because of human-induced climate change and other human impacts on the environment, the world is in a state of polycrises leading to cascading systemic risk and increasing inequality, with failure to limit global warming being one of the greatest threats to humanity.

The global climate science community, coordinated by WCRP, is a diverse community of climate science experts who stand ready to advance fundamental climate science and work with society in the co-creation of actionable knowledge that can inform and support the required transformation to a safe, just, and sustainable future for all.

The WCRP 2023 Open Science Conference was held in Africa in recognition of the disparities in the drivers and consequences of climate change around the world; persistent inequities in the global scientific community that undermine and disadvantage the knowledge contribution from communities in resource-poor nations; and a collective commitment to address both.

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At the Kigali Summit, climate scientists have issued a resounding call to action, emphasizing the necessity of increasing funding, technology transfer, and data-sharing – placing scientists from the Global South at the forefront of regional and international climate research.

Kigali Declaration signatories call upon the global community to urgently act now to address climate change.

We ask decision makers from the worlds of science, policy, industry, and civil society to:

Commit to achieving a significantly increased ambition for climate mitigation and adaptation, by upholding commitments to a fair and accelerated process of phasing out fossil fuel energy systems; and by improving climate knowledge and developing climate decision support systems, at both global and regional levels. This includes sustaining healthy ecosystems, providing equitable access to clean technologies and committing to a just energy transition worldwide, while addressing the needs for development and adaptation to unavoidable climate change impacts in the Global South.

Implement transformative, ethical, and equitable solutions that are timely, feasible, scalable and fit for purpose in terms of the complex risks of inevitable climate impacts and transition risks. This includes well-planned and effective nature-based solutions, technological solutions, and behavior change.

Pledge to support the development of inclusive, diverse, and equitable global knowledge partnerships between science and all sectors of society – including local and indigenous knowledge communities – for accelerated and transformative action over a 10- to 20-year horizon. Responding to context-specific and demand-driven needs, and collaborative and inclusive leadership from around the world in the context of irreversible aspects of climate change, is critically important.

Kigali Declaration signatories call upon the climate science community to accelerate and amplify the relevance, impact and benefit of its research for science and society, enabling transformative actions.

WCRP asks its leadership, together with its partners, to:

Commit to identifying and implementing timely actions to give equal visibility, voice, and access to opportunity to early career scientists, marginalized scientists, and historically disadvantaged scientific communities, in the work, leadership and global influence of WCRP.

Expand the disciplinary scope of climate research and collaborate effectively with the broader global sustainability science community to bring integrated knowledge to our understanding of human systems, ecosystems, and biodiversity.

Advance trans-disciplinarity and the effective engagement with policymakers and the broader public as partners in the co-design of research and co-creation of actionable knowledge.

Prioritize developing effective pathways for translating observation and model data into actionable climate information that enables informed decision-making and resilience building; facilitates community input; and addresses critical data gaps in cities and informal settlements, the oceans, and data sparse regions.

Advocate the principles and practices of open science and open education, and work with global science funders to support their effective adoption around the world, including in the Global South, and to raise the visibility and value of regional knowledge.

Co-lead with the scientific community of the Global South in setting priorities and allocating resources to foster stronger collaboration, shared and equitable leadership, and alignment with local understanding of science challenges and opportunities.

Kigali Declaration signatories call upon 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.

This involves:

Mobilizing the funding and capacity development needed to sustain fundamental and solution-oriented climate science.

Providing improved climate change projections (and the associated uncertainties) with context-relevant information, including for cities and human settlements. These must be complemented by the tools and data infrastructure required to make these data available and usable by all, and building the contextual knowledge and capacity so that these data are used in an informed way.

Enhancing long-term, sustained, high quality and accessible observations and paleoclimate reconstructions, making well-coordinated use of both remotely sensed and in situ observations to increase spatial and temporal coverage. These are required to monitor the impact of human behavior on climate, to improve climate assessments and projections, and to support climate relevant decision-making processes through exploration of a range of adaptation options, mitigation pathways, and model uncertainties.

Establishing improved climate information and early warning services at local and regional scales – to provide actionable information for adaptation, disaster risk and reduction strategies.

Engaging stakeholders, users, and sector experts to determine the climate conditions and thresholds that drive impact in human and natural systems, helping to better identify risks, assess the impact of irreversible changes, develop and deliver actionable climate information, and prioritize best adaptation options.

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The information, opinions and recommendations presented in this article are those of the individual contributor/s, and do not necessarily reflect the values and beliefs of the International Science Council.

Photo de Vin Nov sur Unsplash.

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