Empowering policy makers with informed scientific knowledge

Empowering policy makers with informed scientific knowledge

Actions and Detail Panel

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Date and time


Online event

Empowering policy makers with informed scientific knowledge to address the climate crisis: What can we learn from the COVID-19 response?

About this event

This event takes place from10:00 – 11:30 GMT / 11:00 – 12:30 CET

Introduction and aims of session

COVID-19 mobilised the research community, policymakers and public as never before in an effort to find rapid solutions to the pandemic.

Climate change was once an issue whose impacts were decades away, but everyone can see that the climate crisis is now upon us, and we need immediate action on adaptation and mitigation.

UKRI and Science Europe is convening this international panel of senior government officials and eminent scientists to discover how lessons from the pandemic can help us to address the climate crisis, especially in the context of the UK Presidency COP26 campaign areas.

A panel of this type will bring home the value of international collaboration as well as the importance of drawing on local, regional, national and international expertise. It will highlight the need to increase global cooperation between the research community and policy makers and explore how research and innovation can most effectively inform decision-making on climate change.

Coming so soon after the pandemic, it underlines the importance of policy makers and researchers working together in an exchange of objectives and knowledge in a timely way.

The IPCC process has been effective in informing long-term policy needs of climate change mitigation and adaptation. But as we move towards a period of tipping points and increased frequency of climate extremes, we need to listen to scientists when dealing with short-term crises.

The panel’s deliberations will help to ensure that the right structures are in place to leverage expertise, capabilities and any new knowledge that can contribute to both practice and policy in times of crisis. Collectively, this working relationship underpins action taken at national and multi-national level at both COP26 and beyond.

The panel will discuss how best to mobilise scientific communities across the world in response to climate change. It will seek to accelerate action and encourage ‘political ambitions, tools, finance and coordination’ through debate. Finding solutions through shared best practice will enable rapid, robust, decisive, yet deliverable, action.


  • 10:00 – 10:10 GMT / 11:00 – 11:10 CET - Opening of Workshop, Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Governing Board Member of Science Europe
  • 10:10 – 10:20 GMT / 11:10 – 11:20 CET - Welcome and Keynote Introduction Panel Chair: Professor Dame Jane Francis (Panel Moderator), Director British Antarctic Survey
  • 10:20 – 10:30 GMT / 11:20 – 11:30 CET - Keynote speech, Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education
  • 10:30 – 10:50 GMT / 11:30 – 11:50 CET - Panel Session, Five-minute presentation from each of the panellists on their discussion topic:
  1. Professor Sir Robert Watson, former IPCC Chair and IPBES Chair
  2. Professor Christian Apfelbacher, member of the Coordinating Group of the German Network Public Health for COVID-19
  3. Professor Karin Bäckstrand, Stockholm University, Researcher at the Institute for Future Studies (IFFS), and member of Swedish Climate Policy Council
  4. Professor Zbigniew Władysław Kundzewicz, Professor of Earth Sciences at Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 10:50 – 11:25 GMT / 11:50 – 12:25 CET - Open plenary debate, questions and answers with the audience, - Panel Chair: Professor Dame Jane Francis (Panel Moderator), Director British Antarctic Survey
  • 11:25-11:30 GMT / 12:25-12:30 CET - Closing Statement, Lidia Borrell-Damián, Secretary General of Science Europe
  • 11:30 GMT / 12:30 CET Panel Close

To see the full programme of UKRI events at COP26 and view our virtual stands, please visit UKRI at COP26 and register to access the full, interactive platform.