by the guest editors Athina Lykos (AIT Austrian Institute of Technology) and Sobah Abbas Peterson (NTNU)
The time to take action is TODAY. Synergies on solutions on climate change adaptation and mitigation have never been more vital than our current times, facing perhaps irreversible impacts if we do not take urgent action today. Climate change impacts vary from extreme weather events to contaminated habitats and loss of biodiversity, to health and economic losses. “To deliver on the 2030 Agenda, governments, international agencies, businesses and other organizations need to plan efficiently, exploiting the synergies, mitigating trade-offs and treating the Agenda as an indivisible whole .”
This ERCIM special theme on Climate-Resilient Society is organised in collaboration with the EU-funded project MAIA, which stands for and aims to maximising the impact and synergy of climate change research and innovation with an estimate budget of €4 million. The project has a consortium of 15 partners across Europe and one of the objectives of this Coordination and Support Action (CSA) project is to reach out to a wider scientific audience to spotlight already existing climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions or research. Additionally, it aims to create synergies between climate change solutions/projects and regions that are fighting climate change.
MAIA addresses the current challenge of knowledge being scattered in multiple management silos, such as websites, EU-funded projects, publications, and even already proven best practices of private stakeholders, and brings it to the spotlight so that regions looking for innovative ways to resolve the issues they are facing can become aware of these best practices. MAIA is in the process of creating a unison knowledge management platform where all this data can be found, navigated, and applied easily.
The current adaptation efforts are scattered and fragmented, with a strong technology focus, particularly in urban areas, which result in leaving behind some of the most vulnerable communities. To mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on our planet, there is a need to reach out to all stakeholders and communities through enhanced climate-related knowledge and sharing of knowledge, motivation, and engagement of people — from existing EU-Climate Change projects, policy makers, private stakeholders, citizens, and the scientific community.
This ERCIM News special theme aims to put a spotlight on recent research, innovation and Implementation activities that could be taken up by the EU Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change, focusing on actionable knowledge, tools and solutions for planning, implementation, and progress monitoring.
We invited ongoing and already finished EU projects, as well as innovative companies and regions with valuable experiences in climate change adaptation and mitigation, to share their knowledge and experiences on adaptation needs, gaps, responses, solutions, and mitigation pathways.
Consequently, this special theme will be of interest to anyone from the scientific community to regions fighting climate change and all the stakeholders involved in the catastrophic aftermath of Climate Change, such as first responders, policy makers, scientists, and citizens with a non-scientific background, so that they become aware that solutions for their regions’ problems exist and are already proven best practices.
This special theme has four parts with the following subthemes within climate change: 1) Crisis and disaster management, 2) Clean air, 3) Energy and 4) Transferable mitigation pathways.
Crisis and disaster management
The Austrian project gAia deals with supporting landslide disaster risk reduction using data-driven methods. Funded by KIRAS Security Research, it deals with the proactive spatial planning, effective mitigation, and adaptation measures and disaster risk reduction in general. This is done with the use of susceptibility models and machine learning techniques.
The Focus Group Facilitates the Use of AI for Natural Disaster Management (FG-AI4NDM project) addresses the growing interest in using novel artificial intelligence methods to manage natural disasters. FG-AI4NDM involves stakeholders and end users in the development of AI-based algorithms to bridge the gap between experts who have developed such algorithms and their end-users. In addition to developing such standards, the project conducts hackathons, hands-on training sessions, and workshops.
The EU-funded project TREEADS, with an estimated budget of €22.8 million, concerns a holistic fire management ecosystem for prevention, detection, and restoration of environmental disasters. They have successfully developed, optimized, and validated 26 state-of-the-art technologies and run eight pilots across six EU countries and one pilot in Taiwan .
The EU-funded project 5G-EPICENTRE, with an estimated budget of €7.9 million, is an experimental platform for 5G public safety services to better prepare public protection and disaster relief organisations . Similarly, the EU-funded project B-PREPARED, with an estimated budget of €5.6 million, creates a collaborative knowledge platform through gamification and virtual reality so that European citizens can learn disaster survival skills (page 16).
Emphasis on air quality is the focus of the Interreg Euro-MED project WECAREMED and the H2020 project COMPARE.
The WECAREMED project focusses on the carbon footprint of research projects, by taking into account the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The project has developed metrics to estimate the GHG emissions from various sources, such as fossil fuels, electricity and transportation. The project has also developed a methodology and a structured framework for evaluating the environmental impacts of each project facet.
The COMPAIR project takes a social innovation perspective and uses Citizen Science to include and engage all stakeholders using digital technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR). It takes a dual focus to engage stakeholders as well as to affect policy, and takes an inclusive approach to reach out to vulnerable population groups and neighbourhoods in three European cities, Sofia, Athens and Berlin.
The EU-project LoCeL-H2 with an estimated budget of €7.4 million, provides hydrogen solutions in two real-scale pilot sites in Africa (Côte d'Ivoire and Zambia), which support the project with physical, digital, and social tools (page 21). CWI in the Netherlands, in collaboration with Eindhoven University of Technology and industry partner Hitachi Energy, is working on a project to find an alternative to SF6 gases. This project is funded by the Dutch national research funding agency. The project develops computational techniques such as adaptive mesh refinement and parallelisation for dynamic 3D simulations.
The project Green-Cap has been developed by researchers and students at the Data Management Systems Laboratory (DMSL), Department of Computer Science at the University of Cyprus. GreenCap utilizes self-consumption through an IoT Data framework. The EU-funded project MobiSpaces: New Data Spaces for Green Mobility, with an estimated budget of € 8 8 million is shifting the focus towards mobility-optimised data governance.
Transferable mitigation pathways
The EU project KNOWING addresses the need for an integrated approach to enhance understanding of the interaction, complementarity, and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation measures for climate change. KNOWING develops a modelling framework that can be used to assess the interrelationships between different areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, and temperature. This framework can help to determine climate conditions that may occur as a consequence of action .
Collaborative data platforms are another approach that is the focus of many projects. Data is gathered by humans and sensors from various locations and made available to a broader group of users. The Spanish project, The Environmental and Biodiversity Climate Change Lab (EnBiC2-Lab), provides a Virtual Research Environment for researchers to share data on climate change's effects on water, air, soil, flora and fauna aspects, and to collaborate on analyses and disseminate findings seamlessly. Ederer et al. from FH Burgenland describe a software architecture for gathering temperature data on farms through sensors and sharing data through a Data Space.
The engagement of citizens in the endeavour to mitigate climate change has been the focus of several European and global projects. Citizen science is one of the methods to involve the citizens, and the H2020 projects WECAREMED (page 18 and CITYCLIM are two examples of this approach. They use citizen science to engage citizens, crowdsource data, and to analyse the data. CITYCLIM provides several interactive technologies, such as a Weather Data Collection Hub and a Weather Map, where citizens can provide local data to enrich the dataset.
Another approach that has been used to engage citizens and to gather data at the household level is the focus of a Greek project, in which households log or report the quantity of food that is wasted every day. A mobile app was designed for the households to report their data, which is aggregated in an attempt to quantify food waste.
 N. Weitz, H. Carlsen, C. Trimme, “SDG Synergies: An approach for coherent 2030 Agenda implementation”, SEI Stockholm Environment Institute, 2019. https://www.sei.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/sei-brief-2019-sdg-synergies-2.pdf
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria
Sobah Abbas Petersen, NTNU, Norway