This is a guest post from Elena Crete and Julie Topf from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) following the joint event 'Learning from Crises: from Covid to Climate' at the Zero Emissions Solutions Conference in partnership with Springer Nature.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed society’s true abilities and vulnerabilities when it comes to confronting a global crisis. While the pandemic has demonstrated that focused efforts can actually generate radical changes at a global scale, it has also revealed the dangers of the structural inequalities and misinformation that persist worldwide. These issues have clear parallels to the climate crisis, which like the COVID-19 crisis, must be met with a profound sense of urgency. In order to explore such parallels, Springer Nature (SN) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) partnered to convene a series of virtual roundtable discussions. The series culminated in an expert panel webinar hosted and broadcast globally alongside COP26 by SN and SDSN during the Zero Emissions Solutions Conference (ZESC) on November 1st, 2021. In addition to hosting the “Learning from Crises: COVID to Climate” event series, the organizers will share the multidisciplinary experts’ findings via an editorial output later this year.
The “Learning from Crises: COVID to Climate” event series began with two virtual roundtable discussions that brought together researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders from around the world and across natural, applied, and social science disciplines in October of 2021. Together, they examined important global and local parallels between the COVID-19 and climate emergencies regarding behaviour change, misinformation, and structural inequalities. They also addressed how lessons from the pandemic can be translated to the climate crisis to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by using an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach. The key findings and recommendations of this series will help support nations in the creation, dissemination, and implementation of their Paris Agreement commitments.
These roundtables were followed by a final webinar that was broadcast live as part of the ZESC, during which the roundtable chairs summarized their insights, identified different factors that must be considered when addressing the climate crisis, and answered questions from the audience. Moderators, Tamsine O’Riordan, Editorial Director of Palgrave Macmillan, and Arend Kuester, Director of Academic Affairs at Springer Nature, were accompanied by keynote speakers, Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, and Jeffrey D. Sachs, President of SDSN, whose remarks preceded the expert discussions between:
During the first discussion, Dr. Zhao and Mr. Blau focused on the findings of the behaviour change and misinformation roundtable and shared their insights regarding the similarities and differences in responses to the crises, the strategy of social diffusion to encourage collective behavioural change to reduce emissions, and climate communication mechanisms to counter misinformation and scepticism. During the second discussion, Dr. Bond and Prof. Torres focused on the findings of the structural inequalities roundtable and shared their insights regarding the similarities and differences of the impacts of the crises on global inequalities, as well as the societal dimensions associated with them. The webinar concluded with a joint discussion by all the expert roundtable co-chairs, where they examined topics including the potential impact of different audiences in society and the wavering trust in science and the institutions of power that communicate it.
You can watch the “Learning from Crises: COVID to Climate” webinar in full below:
Arend Kuester, Director of Academic Affairs at Springer Nature and Tamsine O'Riordan, Editorial Director of Palgrave Macmillan have also written about the event for Springboard, with a focus on the two initial virtual roundtable discussions - read it here.