As the United Nations Climate Change Conference, officially known as the 26th Conference of Parties, or COP26, continues in Glasgow, Scotland, I’m pleased to share some good news. The Open Society Foundations approved funding for Creative Commons, SPARC and EIFL to lead a global campaign promoting open access to climate and biodiversity research. This is a promising new strategy to encourage governments, foundations, institutes, universities and environmental organizations to use “open” to accelerate progress towards solving the climate crisis and to preserve global biodiversity. Catherine Stihler, CC’s CEO and a native of Scotland, publicly announced the campaign during her keynote at the University of St Andrews’ Power to the people event and will have the opportunity to announce the campaign at a COP26 fringe event – Open UK: Open Technology for Sustainability – on 11 November. CC is particularly happy to have the opportunity to work closely with our longtime allies in the open access movement to ensure that this effort is truly a global campaign, and hope that this initiative will help to provide a blueprint for future funding of similar collaborative campaigns.
Climate change, and the resulting harm to our global biodiversity, is one of the world’s most pressing challenges. The complexity of the climate crisis requires collaborative global interventions that center on equity and evidence-based mitigation practices informed by multidisciplinary research. Many researchers, governments, and global environmental organizations recognize the importance of the open sharing of research to accelerate progress, but lack cohesive strategies and mechanisms to facilitate effective knowledge sharing and collaboration across disciplinary and geographic borders.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the power of open access to democratize knowledge sharing, accelerate discovery, promote research collaboration, and bring together the efforts of global stakeholders to tackle the pandemic took center stage. Scientists embraced the immediate, open sharing of preprints, research articles, data and code. This embrace of openness contributed to the rapid sequencing and sharing of the virus’ genome, the quick development of therapeutics, and the fastest development of effective vaccines in human history. The lessons learned during the pandemic can – and should – be applied to accelerate progress on other urgent problems facing society.
The goal of this project is to create a truly global campaign to promote open access, open science and open data as effective enabling strategies to accelerate progress towards solving the climate crisis and preserving global biodiversity. It will develop effective messaging, strategies, and tactics to empower stakeholders currently leading critical climate and biodiversity work to embed open practices and policies in their operations, and make open sharing of research the default.
We expect to identify the most important climate and biodiversity research publications not already OA and coordinate a campaign to open those publications, remove legal and policy barriers to applying open licenses to research articles, influence key funders (governments, foundations, and institutes) of climate science and biodiversity research to adopt and implement strong OA policies, and identify opportunities to open climate and biodiversity educational resources so students, teachers and citizens can learn about these global challenges and help contribute to solutions.
We will encourage global environment organizations to adopt open licensing policies to ensure all their content is free to be reused, built upon and shared for the global public good, delivering on their SDG commitments. We will engage with researchers, universities and policy makers in the Global South to ensure inclusive outcomes throughout.
We will share additional news on this campaign as it progresses.