The aim of the Climate Research Initiative Netherlands (KIN) is to acquire the knowledge needed to accelerate the transformation to a sustainable, climate-neutral society by 2050. A great deal of climate research is being done in the Netherlands, but the climate issue is broad and complex and requires – in addition to a lot of specialist knowledge in a wide range of research fields and disciplines – this knowledge to be integrated. That's why a broad group of scientists published a report this year, commissioned by NWO and KNAW, in which they recommend that KIN be implemented as soon as possible.
The boards of NWO and KNAW have since given the green light for the first follow-up steps toward that aim. A small but important intermediate step in this process was the meeting on a rainy Tuesday at the Trippenhuis to get feedback from scientists, administrators, and representatives of social partners involved in climate (related) research. For the KIN to be successfully implemented, their input is indispensable.
While outside the threat of a thunderstorm symbolised the ominous nature of the complex climate issue, the mood inside was predominantly optimistic. Those present do not need to be persuaded of the need or purpose of the KIN and are enthusiastic about the idea. However, there are questions about its implementation and governance, points that the initiators also acknowledge.
Jan de Boer, responsible for the KIN in NWO's Executive Board of Directors, said at the opening:
"We don't know yet exactly what the KIN will ultimately look like. It's a new initiative with a radically different approach that really requires the scientists to work in a different way. But even though there are still many questions and uncertainties, it's clear that we can’t wait any longer: we're aware that we have to get started right away. That also means accepting that we'll make mistakes along the way so we can start learning and improving".
A plenary session with more explanation of the KIN by those involved was followed by several sub-sessions, ranging from sessions on the KIN Programme, the KIN Pact, and the KIN Centre, the three tracks along the KIN will follow, to the international component. Those present participated actively and came up with many suggestions and ideas, all of which were compiled so they can be consulted in the follow-up process.
Work more closely
One of the key focuses of the day was the innovative approach envisaged by the KIN. The idea is for researchers to work much more closely together to achieve the aim of a climate-neutral society, rather than competing for funding. Although scientists work on parts of the climate problem, there isn’t always enough coherence, whereas what we really need are integrated solutions. This also involves scientific research being developed and conducted together with industry.
So the innovation really involves deeper partnerships: across traditional barriers of disciplines, institutions, and approaches, as well as with practitioners, society, and policymakers. Understandably, this point resonated at the meeting, as there are still many uncertainties. From concerns about whether all disciplines feel adequately represented to the overly academic nature of the KIN.
"We're taking everyone's concerns and questions into the follow-up process," said Michiel van den Hout, appointed recently as quartermaster for the KIN on behalf of NWO and KNAW, summarising the day's results. "This means we'll continue to explain and engage in dialogue, but also that we'll soon get started so we can demonstrate the impact KIN will have through a number of pilot projects. The intention is to launch the first pilot projects as soon as early next year. Then we can show the impact and added value that the KIN will have once it's implemented. And how we can use science to help drive the urgent changes we need to make to our social system to achieve a sustainable future."
Report Dutch Climate Research Initiative (KIN)
The full report and more information about the Dutch Climate Research Initiative (KIN) can be found on the NWO website.