Climate action

Climate action is essential to meet internationally agreed development goals and to protect our planet.

We are proud to have invested in over 500 world-class research and innovation projects and partnerships to better understand climate change.

In 2021, as the UK presides over the global climate summit COP26, we will share some of the initiatives helping to create the evidence, form policy and find solutions. Here are the partnerships for climate action.

Good Development

A series of short informal conversations between the UK science minister and our climate scientists, researchers and innovators.  

Map MOBILISE
FEATURED STORY

Smarter, faster technology to improve disaster resilience

The MOBILISE project brings together experts from University of Salford with local agencies in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia to better plan for disasters by exploiting the latest...

Village leaders during Blue Communities - Philippines' participatory planning workshop
FEATURED BLOG

Science and survival with the blue communities of Palawan

By Lota Creencia, Karen Madarcos & Edgar Jose – Palawan is a narrow archipelagic province located southwest of Manila in the Philippines. In 1990, it was declared UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve owing to its globally significant biodiversity. Previously the province was declared the...

Informal settlement in South Africa
FEATURED STORY

New clean energy solutions for South Africa’s informal settlements

Energy poverty is a common problem for South African communities living in off-grid informal settlements. Without access to safe, affordable and reliable energy families struggle to power businesses, women and children bear the brunt of health impacts from burning harmful cooking fuels, and...

FEATURED STORY

Tackling food insecurity in the Western Indian Ocean

The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) is facing a humanitarian crisis. The livelihoods of 60 million people depend on the ocean. Yet it is warming faster than any other. Coastal and marine ecosystems are rapidly declining, likely to collapse within the next 15 years if current trends persist. Poor...

FEATURED STORY

Building resilient coastal communities

Coastal urban areas are particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards, which tend to hit the poorest and most marginalised people the hardest. The recent flooding and tsunamis in Indonesia highlight the devastation caused by coastal hazards, and the urgent need to build...

UKCDR climate research report

Research funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy through the Newton Fund and Global Challenges Research Fund supported 549 projects on climate change and international development in five years.

Research in action

Conserving native seeds in MexicoPlay

AUDIO: [Music]

VISUAL: Caption: Newton Fund in Action

 

AUDIO: The "Conservation of native seeds of useful trees in Mexico

VISUAL: Seeds being sorted

 

AUDIO: to conserve its natural capital"

VISUAL: Aerial view of forest in Mexico.

 

AUDIO: is a collaborative project between the UK and Mexico funded by the Newton Fund, through the collaboration between Kew Gardens, UNAM and the NGO Pronatura Veracruz A.C. The main objective is to maintain the natural capital of the forests,

VISUAL: Tiziana Ulian speaking. Caption: Dra. Tiziana Ulian, Senior Research Leader of Diversity and Livelihoods, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK

 

AUDIO: through the conservation and research of seeds of useful native trees.

VISUAL: Lab work

 

AUDIO: The project takes place in Veracruz

VISUAL: Animated map pointing to Veracruz

 

AUDIO: one of the states with more biodiversity in trees in Mexico, but at the same time highly threatened by the destruction of natural habitats. We have identified and located populations of the trees

VISUAL: Patricia Dávila speaking. Caption: Dra. Patricia Dávilia, Coordinadora general de estudios de posgrado unam, México

 

AUDIO: of greatest interest to local communities

VISUAL: Camera pans across forest scenery.

 

AUDIO: and fieldwork has been organised to collect their seeds and/or mature fruits

VISUAL: Patricia Dávila speaking.

 

AUDIO: With this, seeds of more than 80 species have been collected, 73 of which are conserved in the seed bank of the Fes-I UNAM

VISUAL: Elena Castillo-Lorenzo speaking. Caption: Dra. Elena Castillo-Lorenzo, Coordinadora de Proyectos en Latinoamérica Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK

 

AUDIO: and will be duplicated in the Millennium Seed Bank in the United Kingdom,

VISUAL: Footage of Millenium Seed Bank

 

AUDIO: to ensure their long-term conservation.

VISUAL: Scientists from Kew Gardens working in a lab

 

AUDIO: About 20 species have been propagated in Pronatura Veracruz nurseries to support different tree planting initiatives and reforestation programmes in the region

VISUAL: Elena Castillo-Lorenzo speaking,

 

AUDIO: The great diversity of landowners, such as coffee farmers, cattle ranchers or people who want to help conserve the jungles and forests

VISUAL: Elisa Peresbarbosa Rojas speaking. Caption: M.C. Elisa Peresbarbosa Rojas, Directora General, Pronatura Veracruz A.C.

 

AUDIO: They participate by planting native trees on their land. In this way, the communities benefit in the short term from the results and in the long term from food and economic benefits.

VISUAL: Images of the following species of seed: Red Cedar, Erythrinas, Robles, Encinos, Annonas, Ingas, Ceibas, Nacaxtles, Ramones. Caption: Species such as Red Cedar, Erythrinas, Robles, Encinos, Annonas, Ingas, Ceibas, Nacaxtles, Ramones and many more, are of great importance to the communities for the use of their wood, fruits, medicinal elements, food and melliferous.

 

AUDIO: In addition, the project contributes to conserving and maintaining biodiversity, as well as adapting and becoming more resilient to climate change

VISUAL: Eliza Peresbarbosa Rojas speaking

 

AUDIO: [Music]

VISUAL: British Embassy Mexico logo and Newton Fund logo

 

Glacier retreat in the Peruvian AndesPlay

AUDIO
[Music]
VISUAL
Caption:
Palcacocha glacier, Cordillera Blanca, Peru

AUDIO
Speaker 1:
Peru is interesting it contains about 70 percent of the world's tropical glaciers.
As you can imagine the tropics isn't a great place for glaciers.
Many mountain regions around the world are warming at much higher than the global average
and that's true also in Peru.
VISUAL
Palcacocha glacier

AUDIO
Speaker 1 (Jemma Wadham):
Glaciers in Peru have been retreating,
over the last few decades they've lost about 30 percent of their area.
VISUAL
Caption:
Jemma Wadham, Professor of Glaciology, University of Bristol
Jemma Wadham sitting in chair

AUDIO
The very special thing about Peruvian glaciers is actually they are vital as a water resource for the region.
So during the rainy season the glaciers receive snowfall and they're nourished,
and in the dry season, when there's less rain, they then melt and continue to provide meltwater for local communities.
VISUAL
Palcacocha glacier

AUDIO
So they really buffer a kind of low water supply during the dry season when the rain stops.
So they're really, really important in providing water to people to croplands, to animals as well.
VISUAL
Jemma Wadham sitting in chair

AUDIO
With any big grand environmental challenge it's so much more powerful to be able to bring
people together,
across disciplines across borders and I think the project we're running is a unique example of that.
So I'm a glaciologist from the UK, I've done a lot of work on glaciers,
VISUAL
Three researchers walking towards Palcacocha glacier

AUDIO
Raul Loayza-Muro, my collaborator in Peru, he's an ecotoxicologist,
so he's very up on the impact of water quality on people and an ecosystem
so together we actually bring a really unique set of skills together,
which enables us to kind of address this grand challenge about water quality and glassy retreat in Peru.
VISUAL
Two researchers sit and examine rocks

AUDIO
The glaciers in the Cordillera Blanca they sit on top of these rocks which are very metal rich
As the glaciers are retreating they are exposing those rocks in front of them, they get washed
by the rain,
they're open to the atmosphere, the metals get dissolved out of the rock sand and that process produces acid.
So the rivers are becoming acidic and very metal toxic.
VISUAL
Shots of the glacier

AUDIO
What we don't know is which rivers that's going to happen to, which rivers that's not going to happen to.
VISUAL
River flowing

AUDIO
So what we're hoping to do through our project is to produce a vulnerability map of that whole region for the water resource managers.
So they can see which rivers are going to be a problem as the glaciers retreat, which ones we don't think will be a problem,
and then on the flip side of that, to work with these communities to help them to remediate
some of the toxic waters in the rivers which is happening due to glacier retreat.
VISUAL
Researchers working by river and collecting and analysing samples

AUDIO
So they're constructing artificial wetlands, and by working with these communities I think what's quite nice,
is actually we're kind of implementing a solution to the problem,
rather than just diagnosing the fact that there is a water quality problem in the mountains
in that region.
VISUAL
Researchers and local community members discuss the problem together on a mountain in Peru

AUDIO
Speaker 2 (Dr Raul Loayza-Muro):
Wetlands are ecosystems that are unique to high-altitude Andes. They are characterised by native
Flora, consisting of moss and grasses.
VISUAL
Caption: Dr Raul Loayza-Muro, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Dr Raul Loayza-Muro

AUDIO
This ecosystem is like a sponge that keeps water and also filters the water.
VISUAL
Close up of grasses

AUDIO
So learning about the functioning of these ecosystems make us think about designing green infrastructure.
One example what happens here in the Shallap catchment. Glacier retreats has produced oxidation, acidification of water and transport of metals.
VISUAL
Surrounding mountainous landscape

AUDIO
This has been channelized down to an artificial wetland, where we are aiming to treat a part of this acid water coming from the upper parts,
VISUAL
Dr Raul Loayza-Muro

AUDIO
so we can improve the quality, delivering water to reservoirs, so that local people can use this water for their lands, for crops for example, for cattle raising.
VISUAL
Arial shot of artificial wetland
Researcher testing water quality
Local people and cows walking through field

AUDIO
Speaker 1 (Jemma Wadham):
May the memory of my people not rage against me.
I never wanted to murder the valley.
And let everyone know, I did not cause my own death
So this evening I’m about to perform in a play about changing glaciers in Peru,
where I will actually be becoming the glacier.
VISUAL
Caption: Performance at UK ambassador’s residence, Lima
Jemma Wadham dressed as a glacier performing on stage

AUDIO
So the performance is linked to a programme called Trans.MISSION. It's jointly funded by the Natural Environment Research Council in the in the UK,
with the Hay Festival, which is one of the world's greatest literary festivals,
and Hay kind of paired me with a storyteller and actress in Peru, which is Erica Stockholm,
VISUAL
Jemma Wadham sitting down

AUDIO
and she's written a beautiful story about the changing glaciers from the scientific results that I've kind of discussed with her.
VISUAL
Erica Stockholm and Dr Raul Loayza-Muro address an audience

AUDIO
I really think that there should be more collaboration between scientists and artists
because I think at the moment it's pretty clear that the science messages about what's happening
need to get out there in a more accessible way,
and artists have a brilliant way of doing that actually and there's something quite powerful what happens when art meets science
VISUAL
Jemma Wadham performs on stage

AUDIO
I really believe that if people come together across disciplines and across different nations, that you can actually solve some of these problems.
You will come to a problem with a different mindset and a different skill set,
and actually these kind of projects, they help you open up a little bit
and see things from another perspective, to bring in different types of solution
so I really, really believe that international cooperation is key with solving grands environmental challenges.
VISUAL
Jemma Wadham sitting down

AUDIO
[Music]
VISUAL
Closing slide with text:
Play written by Erica Stockholm
Play music and violin: Pedro Avila
Filmed and edited by Jon Spaull
Music for fil composed by Jim Howard
The CASCADA project is funded by
NERC and CONCYTEC through the
Newton Paulet Fund
The play was funded by the
Hay Festival/NERC Trans.MISSION programme
CONCYTEC logo, Natural Environment research Council logo, Newton Paulet Fund logo