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Climate research in Belgium

Fostering Collaboration for more impact on policy-making

The Belgian Climate Center and Belspo organised a gathering of the Belgian contributors to the sixth IPCC asessment report (AR6), as well as a broad group of scientists and experts from various universities and scientific institutions involved in climate-related research in Belgium. This meeting took place on 19 September 2023 and had several key objectives.

Firstly, it aimed to express gratitude to the authors for their dedication in representing Belgium in the IPCC, to reflect on the previous assessment cycle and extract valuable lessons from their participation. Secondly, it aimed at bringing together scientists from different disciplines and institutions, and discuss how to foster Belgian participation to the IPCC assessment cycles, and how to increase the impact of scientific research on policy-making.

Moreover, the gathering sought to delve into the motivations and challenges experienced by active contributors to the sixth assessment cycle report (AR6). Authors were encouraged to share their experiences and insights, shedding light on the obstacles they encountered during their involvement. Simultaneously, they were prompted to emphasise the positive outcomes and personal benefits derived from their contributions. This collective input helped identifying the core motivations inspiring experts to engage with the IPCC process and provided perspectives on the main obstacles. Subsequently, in-depth discussions were conducted to explore possible solutions to address the identified challenges. This information is intended to serve as a guiding compass for future support initiatives and possible actions to facilitate and foster Belgian participation to the next IPCC cycles.

The meeting demonstrated the strong interest of many researchers from many disciplines to contribute to IPCC assessments and, more broadly, to be engaged in scientific assessments that are relevant to policy-making, but also the need for adequate information, coordination and support to allow a broader engagement of Belgian scientists in IPCC assessments.

The very rich discussions also highlighted the different ways scientists can influence policy-making (eg. through fact-checking, translating science to the local context, education…). It was also clearly emphasized that much remains to be done in order to improve the transfer of knowledge from science to decision-making, notably through a better understanding of the user needs, a closer connection between policymakers and researchers, and a better coordination of a fragmented research landscape in Belgium.

The IPCC stands for the golden standard in climate knowledge to advice climate policy and Belgium possesses a wealth of outstanding expertise to proudly showcase at this international stage. For Belgium as a relatively small country, an opportunity to make its scientific excellence shine at global level. An opportunity we are determined to facilitate!

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