This week, IG3IS hosted its first Symposium and User Summit on 13 - 15 November in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting brought together key users from a number of different sectors in order to engage in three-day dialogue with technical developers of IG3IS information. Stakeholders and users, including national emission inventory compilers and representatives of the industrial sector and urban community, were invited to articulate their needs for data-driven GHG emission information, and the scientific community developing IG3IS services presented existing capabilities that can serve these needs.
The meeting began with a reminder of how important it is to engage stakeholders, and how much IG3IS appreciated their participation this week. As José Romero, the Chief Scientist Environment International in the Switzerland Federal Office for the Environment, announced, “Implementers of climate mitigation at all levels are absolutely crucial if we want to achieve the climate goals we have established through the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.” This was paired with a reminder that it is difficult for these implementers to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement, without proper scientific support. As Dr. Angel Hsu of Yale-NUS College, Singapore stated in her introduction to the urban sector objective, “Politically, it is quite popular for cities to commit to climate mitigation plans. However, issues arise when they need to report emission inventories and track progress because there is a lack of data availability." With this thought re-emphasized by stakeholders of the national and private sectors, IG3IS understood that its services are as crucial as they have ever been.
Other attendees from both the business and political spheres know that climate change mitigation has traction in their respective fields, and believe that others in their field will see the opportunities it creates and the support that IG3IS can provide. Branch Chief of the Research Division of the California Air Resources Board, Jorn Herner, stated, “There is a paradigm we have in our minds that greenhouse gas emissions are correlated with economic progress, but that is no longer true. We need to be rid of that paradigm moving forward, because you can have economic growth while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Comments from Baroness Bryony Worthington, Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund Europe, related these ideas back to the public domain and recognized the importance of IG3IS when she argued, “As climate impacts increase the interest of the public will increase. Climate change will transform from a peripheral issue to a key political focus. This is where, I would argue, IG3IS’ atmospheric detective work will become increasingly important - we will need to work together as a global community to find the most effective solutions and we don’t have a moment to waste.”
Overall, the meeting identified a number of new opportunities where existing technical skills are ready to meet decision-support needs, as well as use cases for which partial technical solutions exist with a plan to fill the gaps toward meeting emerging user requirements. A number of actions were identified as a pathway forward for IG3IS in the coming years:
- In line with its founding principles, IG3IS will continue to cultivate active and intimate partnerships between its science team and the user communities it serves. This is essential for the co-development of methods and projects that will yield actionable information.
- IG3IS will have a focus on promoting new projects with stakeholders in nations, cities, and businesses in the developing world, while continuing its successes in the developed world.
- The IG3IS science team will continue to promote technological abilities for creating projects on a wider range of GHG emission information.
- IG3IS will broaden its portfolio within the private sector by offering services in the agricultural, forestry, waste management, and other land use and land use change sectors.
This symposium was only the start of ongoing discussions between the IG3IS science team and stakeholders from national, urban, and private sector/industrial sectors. IG3IS intends to use the information gathered from the symposium’s unique discussions, and the discussions that result from continued connection moving forward, to drive research and development for future products and services that are as useful to the user community as possible.