Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute
Doha, Qatar - Qatar Foundation in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) announced the creation of a pioneering climate change research institute.
It will be the first of its kind "in a country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels," PIK’s director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said. "Qatar declares to confront the climate challenge, and to do so by promoting research and evidence-based decision-making. This might be a turning point for a transition towards sustainability." The science is clear, Schellnhuber said, that global greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption "have to decrease sharply by 2020 if we want to avoid dangerous climate change".
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding today in Doha at the world climate summit COP18 was attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who supports the project, as well as UNFCCC-chief Christiana Figueres and COP-president Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah. "Qatar is uniquely positioned between the north and the south, the east and the west, the developed and the developing," Her Highness Sheikha Moza said. "As we drive to establish a knowledge economy in Qatar, we gather today to announce our commitment to a new partnership that brings these unique strengths to climate change research, development and global collaboration."
The institute will work to address remaining knowledge gaps by focusing in particular on arid regions – where 2.5 billion people live –, and the subtropics. Qatar, on the Arab peninsula, is itself a dry coastal country. The projected institute aims to better understand climate change and its consequences as well as potential ways to mitigate its negative effects. It will operate at the crossroads between the natural and social sciences. Some of the research topics that will be tackled by the new institute are extreme events, water systems, ecosystems, food production, public health, and sustainable development.
In the months ahead, Qatar Foundation and PIK will nominate a Founding Committee to develop a detailed plan for the institute and identify faculty. In addition to this, both partners will explore twinning programs on research and temporary integration of research staff from Qatar at PIK.
A second key effort of this partnership will be the launch of a Global Climate Change Forum that is intended to provide a platform for like-minded countries to work together and create innovative climate change strategies. The forum will supplement ongoing official UNFCCC negotiations and discussions by paving the way for an alliance of pioneers to implement new approaches based on cutting-edge science. In addition to government representatives and scientists, the forum will also involve multiple stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations with international reach and expertise in the field.