Doha, Qatar – A pioneering Climate Change Research Institute and a Global Climate Change Forum will be set up in Qatar to focus on arid regions where 2.5 billion people live and the subtropics.

The Qatar Foundation in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) announced the creation of the Institute on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change conference which comes to an end this weekend.

The projected institute seeks to better understand climate change and its consequences as well as potential ways to mitigate its negative effects. Some of the research topics that will be tackled include extreme events, water systems, ecosystems, food production, public health, and sustainable development.

The Institute will be the first of its kind “in a country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels,” PIK’s director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said. “Qatar declares to confront the climate challenge, and to do so by promoting research and evidence-based decision-making. This might be a turning point for a transition towards sustainability.”

The science is clear, Schellnhuber said adding that global greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption “have to decrease sharply by 2020 if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.”

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding was attended by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres.

“Qatar is uniquely positioned between the north and the south, the east and the west, the developed and the developing,” Her Highness Sheikha Moza said. “As we drive to establish a knowledge economy in Qatar, we gather today to announce our commitment to a new partnership that brings these unique strengths to climate change research, development and global collaboration.”

A second key effort of this partnership will be the launch of a Global Climate Change Forum that is intended to provide a platform for like-minded countries to work together and create innovative climate change strategies.

The forum will supplement ongoing official UNFCCC negotiations and discussions by paving the way for an alliance of pioneers to implement new approaches based on cutting-edge science. In addition to government representatives and scientists, the forum will also involve multiple stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations with international reach and expertise in the field.

Linda Hutchinson-Jafar is Editor of Earth Conscious Magazine

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