Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Climate Exp0: A view from the front row

Sebastian Reichel
Sebastian Reichel

Tackling global challenges such as climate change and variability, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss requires collaboration between researchers, practitioners and policymakers--amongst others. The UK Climate Exp0 conference, a preamble to the COP26 later this year (1-12 November 2021), created valuable space for critical engagement and reflection on how to develop synergies between these actors. As an International Stakeholder Coordinator*, incoming PhD student** and Research Fellow in Environmental Anthropology***, we reflect on several of the most valuable opportunities to emerge from
participation in the Climate Exp0 conference, at which colleagues from the University of Southampton played a pivotal role.

First, as the International Stakeholder Coordinator* for ‘Building REsearch Capacity for sustainable water and food security In drylands of sub-saharan Africa’ (BRECcIA), a UKRI GCRF international research and capacity strengthening consortium project, I promoted this opportunity amongst our researchers. I was delighted that several BRECcIA colleagues were accepted for this key event, with our research being presented in the key themes of ‘Nature-based Solutions’ and ‘Adaptation and Resilience’. The virtual format of the event was unusual for many; however, on the positive side it helped to bring together a very large and international audience of 10,000+ hosts, presenters and participants. The Climate Exp0 proceedings and media library became a useful tool for the training needs of our researchers, crucial for projects like BRECcIA which aims to build the research capacity of our researchers mainly from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Niger and Zimbabwe to engage in international scientific debate and present research on a global arena. Since registration was free, it encouraged participation of a more diverse audience who otherwise might not be able to attend the conference. Indeed, the conference featured participants such as Musonda Mumba, Director for The Rome Centre for Sustainable Development under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), demonstrating the commitment of conference organisers to fostering synergies between high-level professionals and researchers in support of tackling global challenges.


Rahinatu S. Alare
Rahinatu S. Alare

There is increasingly greater support for nature-based solutions (NbS) in efforts to address global challenges such as climate change and variability and ecosystem degradation. It was very encouraging to see how front and centre NbS was at the Climate Exp0 conference within the context of more widely recognised subject matters such as climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, for NbS to be effective, they must not be thought of as purely technical approaches for addressing technical challenges. In point of fact, as several of us have recently highlighted with regard to an agroforestry-based approach to land degradation, concerns for equity and inclusion must also be at the top of the agenda for designing, planning, implementing, and monitoring and evaluating these projects. This was also the subject of Matt Kandel’s presentation at Climate Exp0, which underscored the importance of agroforestry as a NbS but also emphasised the equally relevant need to recognise how, for instance, pre-existing social differences amongst local stakeholders might lead to an inequitable distribution of benefits from an agroforestry intervention (specifically, ‘farmer-managed natural regeneration’), thereby reducing the incentive of many farmers to adopt this practice. Supporting socially equitable and inclusive restoration of degraded agricultural land, peatlands, wetlands or other ecosystems is important for achieving sustainable and socially viable intervention outcomes.

Matt Kandel
Matt Kandel

Finally, the Climate Exp0 created scope for developing and building on diverse networks on vital issues. As a Stakeholder Coordinator*, the ideas and insights I received after this event made me reflect on the activities that we have organised and initiated (particularly within the context of the BRECcIA project) so far, and helped me to pursue new connections advantageous to our research. This invaluable networking opportunity has proved useful not only for academics, but also for a wide variety of support services and administrative staff working at universities and research institutions, or taking part in large research projects. Was the target of raising ambition for outcomes from the 2021 COP26 met? I certainly think so.

*Sebastian Reichel, Stakeholder Coordinator for the Building REsearch Capacity for sustainable water and food security In drylands of sub-saharan Africa’ (BRECcIA) project, School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton.

**Rahinatu S. Alare, Assistant Lecturer, Department of Environmental Science, CK Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences.

***Matt Kandel, Research Fellow in Environmental Anthropology, School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton.

Find Out More

Climate Exp0 conference

Climate Exp0

The University of Southampton and Public Policy|Southampton has been involved with the creation of Climate Exp0 conference. 


The Association of Commonwealth Universities

Dr Wassim Dbouk has been selected as part of the Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort, supporting 26 rising-star researchers from 16 countries to bring their expertise to a global stage.

Privacy Settings