International Council for
Philosophy and Human Sciences

Social Science and Climate Change: ISSC at COP17 in Durban, South Africa

Amidst the myriad activities at the COP17 conference, the ISSC presented the first findings of its SIDA-supported Climate Change Design Project, in a side-meeting co-hosted with UNESCO, the (South African) HSRC and CODESRIA.


A full house hears Dr Shisana open the climate change seminar

In a session chaired by ISSC President Olive Shisana, Executive Director Heide Hackmann outlined a framework for promoting the role of the global social science community in taking the lead towards an integrated, transformative climate science. The Draft Framework concludes with 6 “Transformative Cornerstones” of social science, mapping the shape of a crucial social science engagement with one of the most important and challenging problems of our current age.


Heide Hackmann presents the six cornerstones

Commenting after the event, Dr Hackmann noted: “This is a work-in-progress, but the draft is allowing us to start raising awareness and interest, also amongst natural scientists, one of whom remarked after the session that her eyes had been opened by what was presented. And social scientists – trained to be critical – are responding positively and enthusiastically.”

Entitled “The Social Sciences in a changing climate: Meaningful knowledge that works”, the seminar also featured contributions from Elizabeth Longworth, Deputy ADG for the Social Sciences and Humanities Sector of UNESCO, and the South African Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor. Economist Dr Peter Jacobs from the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa presented a paper on “Regenerative farming, indigenous knowledge and climate change”, highlighting the complexities involved in policymaking for a climate-friendly agriculture.


ISSC’s programmatic work at COP17 continued

In parallel, two other members of the ISSC team involved in the Climate Change Design Project, Eleanor Hadley Kershaw and Orla Martin, attended the COP conference in order to gather input for the project and introduce it to a wider scientific community. The team attended a range of side events hosted by organisations such as the Third World Network, the South Center, as well as many others; networked with a multitude of social and natural scientists, NGO representatives and others from around the world; and followed the negotiations. A total of 27 spot interviews with 15 social scientists, 9 natural scientists and 4 others (NGO representatives, humanities scholars and programme managers) from 16 countries in 6 regions were undertaken. Remote interviews will be conducted with a further 20 contacts made at the conference. These activities also serve to feed into the parallel mapping exercise being undertaken to support the project.

The team also attended two external events running parallel to the COP Conference: the Oxfam Hong Kong International Forum on Climate Change Communication and the International Institute for Environment and Development’s Development and Climate Day Conference. Both events served as an additional opportunity to gather interesting new information; network with scientists, researchers and NGO representatives; to further map the climate change research landscape; and to communicate the project to a wider network.

November 2011

  Article Source : ISSC
November 29, 2011