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Global Systems Institute

Climate Risk, Resilience and Adaptation

The adverse impacts that arise from climate change, including extreme weather events, rising temperatures, sea-level rise and changes in precipitation patterns, pose significant challenges to human and natural systems. By understanding climate risks, fostering resilience and embracing adaptation strategies, we can better prepare for the impacts of climate change to ensure a more sustainable and secure future.  

In partnership with the Met Office Hadley Centre, we led a team of experts in performing the central analysis for this nationally-important programme under the UK’s Climate Change Act.

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This £6.25 million 'Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environment Social Science' (ACCESS) programme, led by Professor Patrick Devine-Wright will ensure the UK's world-leading social science expertise plays a central role in interdisciplinary environmental science research.

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The Colombia BioResilience project examines the long-term resilience of Colombian forest ecosystems to environmental and climatic changes and aims to improve understanding of the future implications of forest degradation for Colombian society. Researchers from the project have been collaborating with the artist Chris Haughton to develop an animation that communicates information about the physical and social science from the project and have also worked with the Colombian writer, Juan Cárdenas on a short story about forest conservation in Colombia. The animation presents the main themes from the project, “palaeoecology”, “forest ecology”, and “human geography” and was shown at the Hay Festival in May 2020. The fictional short story, Espiral, was written following several workshops with the researchers and a video reading of the story was presented at the Hay Festival in Cartegena in Jan. 2020 as part of TRANS.MISSION II. The mixture of creative content from this work in the form of spoken, visual, and written material provides unique opportunities to communicate the science of the BioResilience project to a diverse global audience.

The research, animation, and story development was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), with the animation and story also developed in collaboration with the Hay Festival.

» The science-fiction tale, Espiral, is set in 2049 in Colombia and sees two childhood friends exchange messages across an ideological divide

» Chris Haughton animation

Colombia BioReslience project website

We are a network of academics and stakeholders interested in research notions and practices of environmental justice amidst conflict, allowing us to shed light into the distribution of climate change and ecological degradation hardships in the Global South that pays attention to gender, class and ethno-racial differences.

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Supported by Pivot Projects, The Global Systems Institute are working with Exeter City Futures to create an ‘Exeter Living Lab’. The aim is to benefit from our city’s collective knowledge, insight and experience and identify perhaps as yet unseen solutions to the complex challenges Exeter faces in becoming carbon neutral.

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Illustration of Exeter futures

The Future Fibres Network + is a collaborative research project bringing environmental science into the heart of the UK fashion, apparel and textile sectors. It is being led by the University of Exeter and is part of the £15m UKRI Circular Fashion Programme, which aims to keep the UK at the forefront of the global fashion and textile industry. 

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HELIX is an EU-funded collaborative research project assessing the potential impacts of climate change. Scientists from 16 organisations worldwide have worked together to develop a number of future scenarios of the natural and human world as a consequence of 1.5°C, 2°C, 4°C and 6°C global warming.

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Research into the drivers and impacts of drought and fires in Indonesian Borneo

Led by Professor Frank van Veen at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, Kalimantan Lestari (KaLi), meaning “sustainable Borneo” in Indonesian, is a UKRI-GCRF funded project. Its multidisciplinary team of UK and Indonesian researchers is investigating the complex issues surrounding drought and peatland fires in Kalimantan. A consortium of 5 UK and 3 Indonesian universities, and the Indonesian NGO Borneo Nature Foundation, KaLi researchers are bringing their wide range of expertise in both natural and social sciences to gain a holistic understanding of the problem to support Indonesian communities and policy-makers in building resilience in the face of these challenges. 

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While there is widespread discussion of both sustainability and migration, with the latter focused particularly on the potentially destabilizing impacts of unmanaged movement, there is little understanding on the connections between the two. MISTY migration, transformation, sustainability seeks to explore the ways that migration interacts with sustainability concerns in destination cities, with an emphasis on the unrecognised benefits that it can bring.

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Kidnapping in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions. The latest national victimization survey states that 79,315 people were kidnapped in Mexico in 2018. Whilst the country is now recognised as a global hotspot for this violent crime phenomenon, its effects are even deeper than the trauma delivered to many thousands of victims and their relatives. Threat of kidnapping has a wider paralysing effect on everyday life across Mexican society, creating widespread fear and anxiety. To assist those affected by kidnapping, academic experts from the Universities of Exeter and Leeds are collaborating with Mexican filmmakers to develop new approaches to raise public awareness about this crime problem and trigger new strategies to confront it by merging science with soap operas.

Following their recent three-year Newton Fund M.A.K.E. project to develop innovative tools to help ordinary Mexicans counter kidnapping, Dr. Ernesto Schwartz-Marin (University of Exeter) and Dr. Conor O’Reilly (University of Leeds) have taken this research further and co-produced a Telenovela (‘soap opera’) about kidnapping called Amor Secuestrado (‘Kidnapped Love’ in English). Funded by joint-ESRC Impact Acceleration Awards from their respective Universities, Amor Secuestrado blends academic expertise with the social justice passion of the grassroots filmmakers to push the boundaries on how academic research is communicated effectively and how it can make a real difference.

 » Watch the Telenovela, Amor Secuestrado (Kidnapped Love) 

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Migration is a key adaptation strategy in the face of climate change in every part of the world. This project seeks to generate new knowledge on the evaluation of adaptations that involve migration, mobility and immobility and to promote evidence-based narratives on the role of migration in the challenge of adapting to climate risks.

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Our tipping points research looks both at understanding and improving warnings of the proximity of catastrophic climate tipping points as well as identifying and triggering positive tipping points to avert the climate crisis.

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Understanding Memory of UK Treescapes for Better Resilience and Adaptation (MEMBRA) is a UK Treescapes project that looks at the memory of trees using cutting-edge molecular biology techniques to understand how past stresses are maintained and transmitted through generations. MEMBRA also explores how our understanding of tree memory impacts the language that describes treescapes and this influences human interactions.

MEMBRA is a unique project that brings together artists, classicists, geographers and molecular biologists that has an overall aim of improving future Treescapes.

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