START 2022-2023 Biennial Report

START 2022-2023

Biennial Report

Reflections on the 2022-2023 period: The world experienced yet another climate wake-up call in 2023 as heat records were broken around the globe. Last year’s extreme temperatures provided a stark reminder of the ever-widening climate-adaptation gap between the Global South and Global North, and underscored how the new climate normal is increasingly being experienced as an accumulation of serial abnormalities. In a case of fiction mirroring reality, Kim Stanley Robinson in his book The Ministry for the Future writes “[I]t looked like the great heat wave would be like mass shootings in the United States— mourned by all, deplored by all, and then immediately forgotten or superseded by the next one, until they came in a daily drumbeat and became the new normal.”

Last year, the world, and in particular the Global South, lost a great champion with the passing of Professor Saleemul Huq. His legacy lives on with the establishment, in 2022, of the loss and damage fund through the UNFCCC, and the efforts of so many others that enable climate justice and equity to gain greater prominence within the global discourse on climate change.

START’s Impact Over the 2022-2023 period, START continued to contribute to strengthening actionable science around climate change. We did this through:

  • Building a comprehensive leadership program: Fostering science leadership has been an important element of START’s long-term impact through a multi-pronged approach of new skills, integrated knowledge, and greater connectivity. In 2022-2023, we created a holistic leadership fellows program on renewable energy in West Africa that enabled learning across young professionals from academic institutions and the private and public sectors.
  • Expanding our work into capacity development on climate finance: In partnership with UNEP, START coordinated a 13-country LDC university network dedicated to strengthening the ability of universities to advise their governments in accessing climate finance. A key incentive for this work stems from the need to create an internally driven university-based alternative to the external-consultancy led model for generating access to climate finance in LDCs.
  • Reinforcing partnerships on climate adaptation research: START embarked on a collaboration with several African universities and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre on using transdisciplinary approaches to engaging local communities in creating actionable research on climate change and health. This effort, through the CASCADE project, renews long-standing, productive relationships with African partners.
  • Strengthening the role of universities to engage local governments and communities: START continued its partnership with EPIC-N on elevating the role of local universities to engage with local governments and communities in co-creating actionable solutions to environmental challenges. A core element of this work centers around engaging students in gaining practical skills for engaging local communities and co-producing sustainable solutions for cities.

The common throughlines of these efforts — where START has true impact and staying power — revolve around fostering connections across regions, disciplines, career levels, and cohorts, convening diverse voices on which to co-produce equitable solutions, cultivating leadership in science that is holistic and enables confidence to work in complex spaces, and supporting regional priorities for global challenges that emphasizes long-term processes driven by and reflecting regional needs and capabilities.

We are grateful for the support we received during this period from the US Global Change Research Program, the National Science Foundation of the US, NASA, the International Development Research Centre of Canada, the Research Fund of Quebec, the UN Environment Program, and others. We are also grateful for our strong partnerships with numerous universities, research centers, NGOs and government agencies in carrying out this work.

-Jon Padgham, START Executive Director

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