Qatar Foundation, in partnership with the Germany-based Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), will establish a pioneering Climate Change Research Institute and a Global Climate Change Forum in Qatar by 2014.
A first of its kind in the region, the Climate Change Research Institute further demonstrates the country’s commitment towards finding timely solutions to global warming by taking the lead in research and technological breakthrough.
The institute is expected to seek to fill critical gaps in research on mitigation, adaptation and climate resiliency for key regions such as tropics, sub-tropics and dry lands.
A memorandum of understanding was signed to that effect yesterday by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development’s Research and Development president Faisal al-Suwaidi and PIK’s founding director Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, during a brief ceremony held on the sideline of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP18-CMP8).
The signing was witnessed by QF chairperson HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, COP18-CMP8 president HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah and UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres.
The partnership between the two institutions also includes a pledge to establish a Global Climate Change Forum to provide a platform for like-minded countries to work together and create innovative climate change strategies.
Qatar Foundation’s motivation for creating the Qatar Climate Change Research Institute and the Global Climate Change Forum stems from a national commitment to tackle the impacts of climate change and advance the science and technology available to address the global challenge.
The institute in Qatar will operate at the crossroads between the natural and social sciences, while building on the work of other leading institutions.
Establishing the size and scope of the research centre will be one of the main priorities of Qatar during its forthcoming year-long presidency of COP18/CMP8, it was learnt.
Some of the important research topics that will be tackled by the new institute will include extreme events, water systems, ecosystems, food production, public health and sustainable urban development.
Qatar’s recent rapid economic and urban development also serve as an ideal setting for cross-cutting research needed by nations and population centres struggling to find balance between rapid growth and proactive policies on climate and sustainability.
The planned climate change research institute forms part of Qatar’s commitment to invest a total of 2.8% of the country’s GDP for research.
Meanwhile, the forum, which is expected to be an annual event in Doha, will serve as a platform for sharing best practices from a technological and societal standpoint.
An important aspect of the forum’s mandate is to identify knowledge gaps and initiate joint research activities that will be beneficial for all involved.
In addition to government representatives and scientists, multiple stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations with international reach and relevant expertise in the field are expected to take part in the forum.
The forum will supplement ongoing official UNFCCC negotiations and discussions by paving the way for an alliance of pioneers to implement new approaches based upon cutting-edge science.
Speaking about the importance of the agreement, Prof Schellnhuber, who is one of the world’s most respected climate change scientists, noted that Qatar can be a role model for the entire region as well as other dry land areas around the world being an exceptional focal point for both causes and the effects of climate change.
Qatar relies on desalination for almost 100% of its domestic water consumption and would be particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and changing weather patterns brought on by a warming world.
Through its 2030 Vision, the country is also investing its wealth gained through fossil fuel exports to transform from a carbon based economy to one that is knowledge based.
Prof Schellnhuber, who in 1995 proposed a global warming target limit of 2 degrees C, which has been adopted by governments across the world, maintained that Qatar was uniquely placed to undergo scientific research because of its position on the front line in the battle against climate change.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Qatar Foundation. The ground-breaking initiatives that we are announcing today reveal our shared belief in the critical importance of science-based action. Solutions have to be found urgently in order to prevent dangerous global warming from happening and to make countries like Qatar climate-smart,” he added.
Al-Suwaidi explained that the partnership would allow the country to develop a blueprint for progress and to evolve into a hub for advanced research and technologies.