The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCC, commonly referred to as COP27, was the 27th United Nations climate change conference. The main purpose of this conference is to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change.
Even though the scientific community has been hailed for its work in providing evidence and recommendations on the impact of climate change in different communities during this conference since the beginning, the universities, as institutions, are still absent from the COP27 framework and agenda as a whole.
The higher education institutions have always illuminated the pathway for policy makers to achieve climate goals and are known to lead the way in the decarbonization and energy transition processes. Excluding them completely from the UN Climate Change Conference, or COP27, doesn’t seem like a wise decision.
Global University leaders and students share this notion that Universities are key solution providers, and they leverage their global and local networks for innovation.
Professor Annalise Riles, executive director of the Robert Buffett Institute for Global Affairs and associate provost for global affairs at NorthWestern University in Chicago, US, points out, “Despite developing thousands of technological, policy and societal innovations by working closely with local and global partners across sectors, universities were not fully acknowledged and present in the climate change discussions and debates at COP27.”
Hundreds of Masters and PhD students portrayed how universities are uniquely designed to help advanced climate action through studies and research projects in faculties such as environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and energy and environmental systems.
Universities provide training for the next generation of leaders and capacity-building for local communities, municipalities, and policy makers.
Professor Patrizia Lombardi, an expert in Sustainable Urban Development at Polytechnic University of Turin says, “Universities, cities, and communities play a crucial role in the transition towards carbon neutrality of our society and regeneration economy therefore, partnershipping in is a win-win and the only way to accelerate transition.”