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Mpox (monkeypox) outbreak 2022

Get free access to key research on mpox (monkeypox) and other types of orthopoxvirus such as smallpox, and browse resources examining the stigma of disease and the role of media during health crises.

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Mpox (monkeypox) outbreak 2022

Free-to-access academic research and book chapters

Close up of health professional giving a male the monkeypox vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the 2022 mpox (monkeypox/MPX) outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Below, get free access to key research on mpox and other types of orthopoxvirus such as smallpox as well as resources examining the stigma of disease and the role of media and communication during health crises.

To support global health professionals and scientific research communities, we’ve also curated this special collection of mpox-related research articles from our leading medical journals. You can also publish your mpox research and insights in the F1000 monkeypox collection or in a journal.

Monkeypox virus viewed under microscope

Recent research and insights

21 November 2022

Male sexual health implications of the 2022 global monkeypox outbreak

by J. White, et al. in Research and Reports in Urology

Sexual health clinic sign on a brick wall

This review discusses the epidemiology, clinical features, and evaluation of MPX with regard to men’s sexual health. It also discusses the role of men’s health specialists and urologists in addressing the current outbreak.

10 November 2022

The first case of monkeypox in Hong Kong presenting as infectious mononucleosis-like syndrome

by Kelvin Hei-Yeung Chiu, et al. in Emerging Microbes & Infections

Signage at the Infectious Disease Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital, Hong Kong

This letter describes the first case of imported human mpox in Hong Kong in September 2022.

Origins of mpox and background to the outbreak

Journal article

Recent animal disease outbreaks and their impact on human populations

by Jeffrey B. Bender, Will Hueston, and Mike Osterholm in Journal of Agromedicine

This review examines the implications of emerging animal diseases and highlights why there needs to be better collaboration between veterinary and medical practitioners, especially in rural areas.

Journal article

Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination

by Stefan Riedel in Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings

Discover the origins of smallpox and the smallpox vaccination, in this article.

Journal article

Monkeypox re-emergence in Africa: a call to expand the concept and practice of One Health

by Mary G. Reynolds, et al. in Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy

Find out how interrupting the transmission of mpox from animals to humans is key to combating this disease.

Journal article

Importance of epidemiological research of monkeypox: is incidence increasing?

by Chikwe Ihekweazu, et al. in Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy

This study published in 2020 explores some of the challenges of managing the threat of mpox.

Journal article

Smallpox: a review for health educators

by Timothy J. Bungum in American Journal of Health Education

This article describes the history and eradication of smallpox and discusses how health professionals can prepare for an outbreak of smallpox and similar viruses.

Book chapter

Orthopoxvirus

by Vinayagamurthy Balamurugan, Gnanavel Venkatesan, and Veerakyathappa Bhanuprakash in Molecular Detection of Animal Viral Pathogens

This book chapter explores diagnostic approaches for viruses of the orthopoxvirus genus, such as mpox.

Book chapter

Monkeypox virus

by Joseph E. Blaney and Reed F. Johnson in Manual of Security Sensitive Microbes and Toxins

A medical overview of the mpox virus, including biology and epidemiology, identification and diagnosis, treatments, and prevention.

Book chapter

Orthopoxviruses – monkeypox, cowpox, vaccinia, camelpox, mousepox

by M. Sofi Ibrahim and James D. Mellott in Encyclopedia of Medical Genomics and Proteomics

This chapter explores mpox and related orthopoxviruses from a genomics and proteomics perspective.

Transmission and spread

Journal article

Knowledge of human monkeypox viral infection among general practitioners: a cross-sectional study in Indonesia

by Harapan Harapan, et al. in Pathogens and Global Health

This article highlights the challenges of controlling a mpox outbreak when there’s a lack of collaboration between central government and front-line health professionals.

Journal article

Spread of variola minor among vaccinated members of a household

by Guilherme Rodrigues-Da-Silva, Juan J. Angulo, and S. Ivo Rabello in Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases

This case study from 1973 examines how a child who caught smallpox at school infected members of their household.

Treatment

Journal article

An overview of Tecovirimat for smallpox treatment and expanded anti-orthopoxvirus applications

by Andrew T. Russo, et al. in Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy

Get a detailed overview of Tecovirimat (ST-246), a drug that was approved for the treatment of symptomatic smallpox by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018.

Journal article

The design and development of drugs acting against the smallpox virus

by Kamel El Omari and David K. Stammers in Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery

This article reviews the development of several antiviral drugs for treating smallpox and associated viruses including mpox.

Close up of a researcher carrying out scientific research in a chemistry lab

Journal article

Smallpox antiviral drug development: satisfying the animal efficacy rule

by Robert Jordan and Dennis Hruby in Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy

This review examines some of the challenges of developing therapeutics to prevent and treat smallpox when it’s no longer an endemic disease.

Vaccine research

Journal article

IMVAMUNE®: modified vaccinia Ankara strain as an attenuated smallpox vaccine

by Jeffrey S Kennedy and Richard N Greenberg in Expert Review of Vaccines

This profile examines IMVAMUNE, a smallpox vaccine that has been proposed for high-risk people such as those with immune deficiency disorders.

Journal article

Vaccinia virus-based vector against infectious diseases and tumors

by Ziling Zhang, et al. in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

Most smallpox vaccines are developed using the vaccinia virus. Find out about the history, status, and prospects of vaccinia virus-based vaccines in this mini-review.

Journal article

Smallpox vaccines for biodefense: need and feasibility

by Andrew W. Artenstein and John D. Grabenstein in Expert Review of Vaccines

This article reviews the history of smallpox vaccines, assesses the status of newer vaccines, and examines the risks and benefits of smallpox vaccination.

Journal article

The new ACAM2000™ vaccine and other therapies to control orthopoxvirus outbreaks and bioterror attacks

by Lauren Handley, et al. in Expert Review of Vaccines

ACAM2000 is licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for immunization against smallpox and is available for the prevention of mpox. This article profiles ACAM2000.

Book chapter

Vaccinia virus and other poxviruses as live vectors

by Bernard Moss in New Generation Vaccines

This book chapter examines the viruses used to create smallpox vaccines.

Book chapter

Vaccinia viral vectors for vaccines and oncolytic virotherapy

by Z. Sheng Guo, J. Andrea McCart, and David L. Bartlett in Gene and Cell Therapy: Therapeutic Mechanisms and Strategies

Vaccinia virus has been used clinically as a smallpox vaccine for more than 150 years. This book chapter reviews its biology, lifecycle, immune responses, safety, and more.

Cover of New Generation vaccines book

Book chapter

Improved smallpox vaccines

by Matthew E. Cohen and Stuart N. Isaacs in New Generation Vaccines

In this book chapter, authors from the University of Pennsylvania examine several types of smallpox vaccines.

They review the issues around vaccine stocks and address the challenge of vaccinating a population with diverse medical needs.

Vaccination strategy

Journal article

Modeling of optimal vaccination strategies in response to a bioterrorism-associated smallpox outbreak

by Valentina Costantino, Mohana Kunasekaran, and Chandini Raina MacIntyre in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

This study simulated several types of vaccination programs in response to a smallpox outbreak in Sydney, Australia.

Journal article

The strategic use of novel smallpox vaccines in the post-eradication world

by Joseph W Golden and Jay W Hooper in Expert Review of Vaccines

This review examines novel subunit/component vaccines and the roles they might play in unconventional strategies to defend against emerging orthopoxvirus diseases such as mpox.

Journal article

Leapfrogging with technology: introduction of a monitoring platform to support a large-scale Ebola vaccination program in Rwanda

by Paula McKenna, et al. in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

Find out how the Rwanda Ministry of Health initiated a preventive vaccination campaign supported by a vaccination monitoring platform (VMP).

Vaccination Programmes cover

Book chapter

Vaccination programmes: aims and strategies

by Susan Hahné, Kaatje Bollaerts, and Paddy Farrington in Vaccination Programmes

As well as a brief overview of the history of programmatic vaccination, this chapter highlights the aims, strategies, and monitoring and evaluation methods of vaccine programs.

It also describes the roles of stakeholders and international networks.

Tackling health-related stigma

Journal article

Dark Winter and the spring of 1972: deflecting the social lessons of smallpox

by Ronald Barrett in Medical Anthropology

This article highlights how simulations of smallpox outbreaks tend to ignore the key social factors – such as stigma of disease and access to health care – that can contribute to the severity of outbreaks.

Journal article

The impact of sources of stigma on health care avoidance among gay and bisexual men in Australia

by L. Brener, et al. in AIDS Care

Anyone can catch mpox but there are higher levels of transmission in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBM). This study examines whether stigma from various sources affects GBM’s access to health care services.

Journal article

Health-related stigma: rethinking concepts and interventions

by Mitchell G. Weiss, Jayashree Ramakrishna, and Daryl Somma in Psychology, Health & Medicine

Stigma contributes to a hidden burden of illness. This review highlights approaches for reducing the effect of stigma on health interventions.

Journal article

International research workshop on health-related stigma and discrimination

by Daryl Somma and Virginia Bond in Psychology, Health & Medicine

This workshop examines models of health-related stigma and discrimination. It also highlights strategies for measuring and reducing stigma and discrimination in a health care context.

Chinese gate in front of Lan Yuan chinese gardens in Dunedin, New Zealand

Journal article

Who’s to blame for the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand? Applying attribution theory to understand public stigma

by Thao Nguyen, et al. in Communication Research and Practice

This study investigates blame attribution and prejudices against Asian and Chinese people in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health communication and media

Journal article

Spreading Ebola panic: Newspaper and social media coverage of the 2014 Ebola health crisis

by Danielle K. Brown, Joseph Yoo, and Thomas J. Johnson in Health Communication

The media has historically contributed to public fear and panic by emphasizing the risks and uncertainties of health crises. This research examines news coverage of the 2014 Ebola crisis, exploring differences between newspaper coverage and news shared on social media.

Journal article

Smallpox vaccination is not associated with infertility in a healthy young adult population

by Isabel G. Jacobson, et al. in Human Vaccines

This study explored whether there’s a relationship between infertility diagnosis and the smallpox vaccine.

Journal article

A systematic review of fear, stigma, and mental health outcomes of pandemics

by Aghna Wasim, et al. in Journal of Mental Health

As part of this study, researchers examined the role of misinformation in propagating discrimination and prejudice towards certain groups.

Journal article

Fear factor: The unseen perils of the Ebola outbreak

by James M. Shultz, et al. in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Infectious diseases create fear and psychological reactions. This article highlights how authorities must consider this to reduce the deadly effects of fear during future outbreaks.

Close up of a person on white clothing using a smartphone

Journal article

Troubling expertise: social media and young people’s sexual health

by Paul Byron in Communication Research and Practice

Social media is an integral part of many young people’s lives. This article draws on recent health promotion research to examine the effectiveness of sexual health promotion on social media.

Book chapter

Notions of risk

by Andrea Kitta in Vaccinations and Public Concern in History

This book chapter examines how health educators can effectively communicate the concept of risk in relation to vaccinations and their associated diseases.

Book Chapter

Monitoring vaccine coverage and attitudes towards vaccination

by Susan Hahné, Kaatje Bollaerts, and Paddy Farrington in Vaccination Programmes

In this chapter, the authors use case studies to highlight methods for understanding public attitudes towards vaccination and monitoring and interpreting vaccine coverage.

Graffiti that says 'deaths normal no pandemic' on sea fence

Insights article

Combatting disinformation

Disinformation, misinformation, and “fake news” has a significant negative impact on society during a health crisis. In this Insights article, leading experts explain how disinformation spreads, why it’s dangerous, and how to fight it.

Support and resources from health organizations

Nurse in NHS vaccination ward

Publish your research and insights

Submit your research to the F1000 monkeypox collection

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that the rapid sharing of research is critical for supporting governments around the world in their response to outbreaks of diseases such as monkeypox.

F1000Research is an Open Research publishing platform for scientists, scholars, and clinicians. It allows you to publish articles and other research outputs quickly.

Our monkeypox collection aims to bring together important research related to any aspect of monkeypox and makes this information readily available to researchers, educators, health officials, and the general public.

We welcome a range of article types including opinion pieces, living systematic reviews, and original research articles.

Find out more or submit your research.

Close up shot of vials containing monkeypox vaccine with person's gloved hands in background.

Publish in a journal

Browse calls for papers for opportunities that fit your area of expertise.

Or find out how to publish your research in a Taylor & Francis journal.


How climate change could affect the future of the FIFA World Cup

Qatar 2022 likely won’t be the last time the climate has a major impact on the Men’s and Women’s World Cups. In this article, leading experts highlight the unpredictable impacts of increased heat, pollution, rainfall, and more on the World Cup and other mega-sporting events.

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How climate change could affect the future of the FIFA World Cup

Experts highlight the unpredictable impacts of increased heat, pollution, rainfall, and more

A sprinkler waters a soccer pitch

FIFA’s decision to host the 2022 association football Men’s World Cup in Qatar was met with resistance – from the world of football and beyond.

One source of this resistance relates to the country’s climate.

Since the first tournament in 1930, the Men’s World Cup has taken place in the Northern Hemisphere summer. But the 2022 tournament has moved to November and December to avoid the heat of a Qatari summer where temperatures regularly exceed 104 F (40 C).

This means games are more likely to be played in daytime temperatures of 77–86 F (25–30 C).

Lasting impact

Qatar 2022 likely won’t be the last time the climate has a major impact on the Men’s and Women’s World Cups.

From changes in weather patterns that lead to droughts, intense storms, and acute heat waves, to a reduction in the quality of the air we breathe, climate change has a major impact on society. And sports are no exception.

In this article, four of the world’s leading researchers highlight ways in which climate change could affect the future of the FIFA World Cup, association football, and other mega-sporting events.

“FIFA and national associations will need to continue to be flexible with the timing of future World Cups…”

Dr. Daniel Scott:

Climate change poses two central challenges for FIFA and future World Cups:

1. Reputational risk

First is the reputational risk resulting from high emissions associated with the World Cup and any international mega sporting event.

We have seen the climate change and human rights reputational risk play out in the media since Qatar was selected to host the 2022 World Cup.

Climate groups and politicians are rightly skeptical of net-zero claims of organizers when the emissions associated with major construction, air-conditioned stadiums, desalinated water for pitches, and the need to fly in spectators from neighboring countries because of limited accommodations increase its carbon intensity above other hosts. And, there is no third-party audit of the massive carbon offsets required to achieve this commitment.

The optics of the massive emissions associated with this World Cup beginning just as the world concludes another round of very difficult climate negotiations at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt are not positive for the world’s beautiful game. This is particularly the case as climate justice and the inherent inequity of climate change, as well as strengthened accountability of turning ambitious emission reduction pledges into measurable progress, are expected to be prominent at Sharm.

FIFA must do better than pledges of carbon-neutral games achieved principally through offsets, often with unknown quality and climate effectiveness.

FIFA needs to set contractual obligations for low-carbon World Cups that include requirements to purchase certified sustainable aviation fuels or gold-standard offsets for FIFA/team/officials travel, facilities construction, and operations, and require third-party audits of emission accounting.

Only through such transparency and accountability will the world and fans know every effort has been made to minimize the climate impact of future World Cups.

FIFA and World Cup organizers need to assess and take responsibility for scope 3 emissions associated with the travel of fans to the games.

Organizers tout the economic benefits of the World Cup, including its associated travel and tourism. With those economic benefits comes the responsibility for any associated adverse impacts.

2. Physical climate risk

Second is the physical climate risk, principally extreme heat, to athletes, officials, and spectators.

The Qatar World Cup is illustrative of the need to understand and adapt to physical climate risks.

The eventual shift of the World Cup from its usual June-July schedule to November to avoid dangerous summer heat is a harbinger of what will need to be considered for future World Cups. 

Dangerous heat is not restricted to Qatari venues. Unexpected heat waves have seen temperatures in June-July exceed 104 F (40 C) in Moscow, London, and Seattle in recent years. The July average temperature in Dallas is over 97 F (36 C). 

These temperatures don’t reflect the micro-climates of stadiums – which we know too little about – and how effective heat attenuation strategies are for athletes and spectators.

FIFA and national associations will need to continue to be flexible with the timing of future World Cups. FIFA should require detailed stadium-level climatological analyses and heat contingency plans for each venue to be part of any future World Cup bid to protect the safety of the athletes.

Dr. Daniel Scott is University Research Chair and Director, Climate Change Programs at the University of Waterloo. His research focuses on the human dimensions of global environmental change, climate and society, and sustainable tourism. He regularly publishes his research in journals including the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Recreation Research, and Journal of Leisure Research.

A stadium being built for the 2022 football World Cup, Doha, Qatar

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 airliner jet plane at the Farnborough International Airshow 2022, with FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and logo on the side

Thermometer showing high temperatures outside Wembley Stadium, London

“Athletes may find it harder to breathe…”

Dr. Lisa M. DeChano-Cook:

Climate change could affect the future of the Men’s and Women’s FIFA World Cup in many ways.

Effects of heat on participants and the ball

Depending upon where the World Cup is held, the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for athletes, referees, and spectators will increase. The hotter and more humid the venue, the more the risk increases.

Increased temperature may have impacts on the soccer ball itself.

As temperature increases, so does the temperature inside the ball, giving it an overinflated effect. This, in turn, impacts how far and fast a ball will go when it is kicked, which players then have to take into consideration if they are trying to pass to a teammate or block a potential goal.

Air quality

If FIFA World Cup fields are in or near major global cities or places prone to wildfires, air quality may become more of an issue with climate change.

Athletes may find it harder to breathe because of pollutants in the hot air, which will decrease lung function and reduce blood flow.

Effects of rainfall

Some FIFA World Cup venues may see a large increase in rainfall.

If this does occur, flooding may be an issue for some stadiums. Draining this excess water is no small task, and drying out fields for competition takes time.

Heavy rains during a game could lead to slippery conditions and the potential of athlete injuries. Players will also have an increased problem keeping warm, especially if they are not moving on the field (such as at halftime or on the sidelines).

An increase in storms could also lead to an increase in the lightning strike hazard. Sometimes these storms move into an area quickly. And because lightning can strike from some distance away (up to 16km), players and spectators may not even know they are in range of a lightning strike.

Rising sea level

Rising sea level (RSL) may be an impact that World Cup venues will need to deal with.

Any stadium or city that sits at or just above sea level will have to contend with flooding issues. RSL will also impact players from island nations because these players will be forced to relocate and potentially find new teams for which to play. These teams may not be part of FIFA World Cup events currently, but they will certainly have no chance of being included if their island is wholly underwater.

Effects on host location

In addition, cities that have hosted the FIFA World Cup in the past may no longer be viable venues in the future due to climate change.

However, cities that may not have been considered as good host cities may become more appealing because temperatures and rainfall are not as extreme.

Enhancing reputation

There are a few other potential bright spots that climate change could bring to FIFA World Cup competitions.

For instance, these events could highlight their modifications and adaptations to climate change to show spectators what is being done by their sport to combat climate change.

Teams participating in World Cup events could highlight what they have been doing on a more regional or local scale, which may impress upon people more locally to act more sustainably.

Dr. Lisa DeChano-Cook is a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Tourism at Western Michigan University. She’s an environmental geography and sports geography researcher and has published research in journals including Physical Geography and International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education.

Aerial shot of a very dry soccer pitch

Lightning is seen on the sky above the Donbass Arena, Donetsk

A toddler sits on a bench at Kali Adem port, which is impacted by high tides due to the rising sea level and land subsidence, north of Jakarta, Indonesia

…we can anticipate more challenging conditions for players, referees, and fans…

Dr. Greg Dingle:

How might the future of FIFA’s World Cups, for both men and women, be affected by climate change?

This is a difficult question to answer with any precision. This is because climate change is a complex, geophysical, non-linear, multi-decadal phenomenon. It has complex drivers that are characterized by significant uncertainties at the local scale.

Whilst there is a broad scientific consensus that climate change is global in scale and driven overwhelmingly by greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans since around 1750, at the local level, there are significant uncertainties about what sports generally, and football specifically, can expect.

To illustrate this point, while planet Earth is unequivocally warming, this is not uniform. The highest increases in average temperatures have been in polar regions, while increases for equatorial regions are not as great.

And therein lies a key problem. All sports, including football, is played at a local level. Even FIFA’s signature events, the FIFA Men’s World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup, are played at specific places at specific times. While the scope of football is global, its interaction with weather patterns is always experienced by people – players, officials, and fans – at the local level. And it’s difficult for climate scientists to predict what future climate impacts at a particular time and place will be.

Uncertainty reigns.

So what can we say about the future of the FIFA World Cups during an era of climate change?

Challenging conditions

On a warming planet, we can anticipate more challenging conditions for players, referees, and fans, especially if the World Cups continue to be scheduled in warmer months.

Historically, the men’s version of the World Cup was scheduled for Northern Hemisphere summers. From Italy in 1934 (May 27–June 10) to Sweden in 1958 (June 8–29) to Russia in 2018 (June 14–July 15), the tournament has essentially been a June–July event in order to minimize disruption to European football competitions.

In future decades, June–July World Cups are likely to be less problematic… if limited to the Southern Hemisphere!

Scheduling future World Cups for the peak of summer is likely to result in increased incidence of heat stress and heat illness for players and referees. FIFA’s decision to reschedule the 2022 Qatar World Cup from the originally proposed June–July timeframe to the less dangerous but still problematic November–December period, indicates possible rescheduling of future tournaments.

The scheduling of the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup for the Australian and New Zealand winter (July–August) is a wise choice for the health of players and referees.

Disruption and economic costs

A second consideration for future FIFA World Cups is the possibility of disruption and associated economic costs.

A theme of recent sport-climate research has been the higher costs imposed on sports by disruptive climatic extremes.

While Typhoon Hagibis’ rainfall and flooding disruptions of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan were relatively minor, sports is being increasingly challenged by climate hazards – extreme heat and drought and extreme rainfall and flooding.

And while major sports stadiums are generally designed for effective flood mitigation, the 50,000-seat Brisbane football stadium has twice been inundated by flood waters (2011 and 2022). Climate hazards can result in delays and rescheduling, which means lost revenues and higher operating costs.

Adapting to climate change

While the future of FIFA’s Men’s and Women’s World Cups is likely to be more challenging, humans have significant adaptive capacity.

As sport-climate researcher Dr. Madeleine Orr has argued, sports organizations can develop the capacity to accommodate changes with minimal disruptions and costs.

FIFA’s recently announced climate strategy is a good example of this, and a sensible step forward in developing football’s capacity to adapt to the challenges that likely lie ahead.

Greg Dingle, Ph.D., is a sports management researcher at the Centre for Sport and Social Impact, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia and Co-Editor of Sport and Environmental Sustainability. Greg specializes in climate risks, impacts, and adaptation for the business of sport.

USA team players Kristine Lilly, Hope Solo and Christie Rampone stand during team introductions before a World Cup match in the rain

Two players in the men's FIFA World Cup Final 1970

Footballers on a waterlogged pitch during a Typhoon

“The consequences of inaction might be dire for both mega-events and casual football globally…”

Dr. Walker J. Ross:

Climate change will have far-reaching impacts on the future of all sports, but will be prominently on display for sports mega-events like FIFA World Cups.

Such global events that move from location to location with each new iteration of the event leave themselves particularly exposed to some of the impacts of climate change.

My colleague Dr. Madeleine Orr and I have published a paper that used the best available climate data and climate change reports to make predictions of climate impacts for the next few rounds of FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cup events.

To understand these phenomena, there are a few areas of environmental concern to follow:

1. Temperature

Global temperature rise is one of the major concerns of climate change. Warmer conditions impact the playing abilities and safety of athletes as well as the general safety of spectators, officials, and others in attendance at World Cup events. They will be, on average, warmer in the future.

It is possible that we may see more shifting of the calendar for FIFA World Cup events from the normal July–August timeframe to other times of year that see cooler temperatures (similar to the decision for the Men’s World Cup in Qatar).

Otherwise, water breaks might change from an occasional practice to the norm in football.

2. Precipitation

Changes in climate lead to changes in precipitation patterns both towards drier and wetter extremes.

Drier conditions could be unsafe for participation and may not be conducive to the growth of grass, which would then require more irrigation demand.

Wetter conditions could flood pitches and render them unplayable.

Warmer water conditions in the oceans lead to stronger and more frequent tropical weather events. For coastal host communities, this will be an area of concern.

3. Air quality

The main villain in air quality has long been pollution, but another more frequent concern for air quality will be smoke from wildfires.

Warmer and drier conditions turns forests into tinderboxes that will quickly burn large areas and overwhelm fire response.

We’ve already seen smoke from wildfires impacting sports across the globe. This may only become more common, and require careful consideration of the timing of events as well as the geographic placement of host communities.

 4. Land use

This concerns where these events take place – specifically where stadia and other facilities are located.

Rising sea levels may occasionally inundate poorly placed infrastructure or create unsafe conditions for the construction of venues.

FIFA’s response

The major theme in all of this is that warmer temperatures will create undesirable conditions for competition and safe spectatorship. All future World Cup event organizers need to consider these impacts at the very least as part of the planning of their events.

In response, FIFA have begun to require candidate host cities to address the environment in bids, and candidate hosts are stepping up their initiatives in sustainability and climate.

2026 and beyond

The challenge for future World Cup events is that it becomes more difficult to project climate impacts the farther out in the future we look. The solutions of today may not be sufficient for the problems of the future.

Enough has been said of the Qatar World Cup event from a climate perspective already, and Dr. Orr and I had a few climate concerns for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

However, the North American Men’s World Cup in 2026 will be interesting. It is spread over a whole continent. The climate concerns for Mexico City will be wildly different from those of Dallas or Toronto. Areas of immediate concern include air quality from wildfires (especially in Seattle and Vancouver), heat across all cities, as well as tropical weather in Miami and Houston.

Aside from changing the playing season or introducing safety measures like water breaks, we might see more adaptations to the climate in the form of artificially controlled environments for competition (read: indoor stadiums). Five of the selected venues for the 2026 World Cup are already covered stadiums.

FIFA is expanding the size of World Cup events in the future by inviting more nations. This also increases exposure to climate by placing more people in harm’s way, necessitating more infrastructure and resources for events, and putting more of a strain on the host communities.

Overall, World Cup events might need to take some proactive measures to ensure that the same event we all know and enjoy is able to continue into the future. The consequences of inaction might be dire for both mega-events and casual football globally.

Dr. Walker J. Ross is Lecturer in Sport Management at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on sports ecology and sustainability with an emphasis on the organizational and management approach to managing the environment in sports. He has written for journals including Sport in Society, Managing Sport and Leisure, the Journal of Global Sport Management, and International Review for the Sociology of Sport.

Alex Krieger of team USA drinks during a training session

Smog caused by wildfires in Los Angeles, U.S.

Flooding at the Metricon stadium on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Four times the climate impacted mega sporting events

Japan rugby players train the rain

1. Rugby World Cup (2019)

Typhoon Hagibis caused two matches in the pool stages of the competition to be canceled. And it almost caused the cancellation of the crucial Pool A match between Japan and Scotland that decided which team would qualify for the knock-out rounds.

Rain on FIFA sign on football pitch dugout

2. FIFA Men’s World Cup qualifying (2012)

Heavy rain in Warsaw forced Poland’s World Cup 2014 qualifying match with England to be postponed by 24 hours. The postponement meant that many fans couldn’t attend.

A snow cannon on a ski slope with little snow

3. Winter Olympic Games (2010)

Record high January temperatures in the host city of Vancouver, Canada, meant that organizers had to transport snow to venues by helicopter and truck and use dry ice to stop snow from melting. This affected the conditions for athletes and contributed further to the Games’ carbon footprint.

Subsequent Games have had similar issues.

The Rod Laver Arena on a sunny day

4. Australian Open (various years)

In 2009, play was suspended several times as temperatures reached 113 F (45 C). In 2014, players withdrew because of the heat while hundreds of attendees were treated for heat-related illnesses. In 2020, bushfire smoke forced a player to retire with breathing problems.

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By Leah Kinthaert, November 2022

Many people in North America or Europe experience the concept of sustainability as one of limits: limiting air travel, limiting consumption or type of goods, limiting choices – choices around what we eat, wear, or do.

These sorts of attitudes, unfortunately, have made for a great deal of resistance around the adoption of sustainable practices. In fact, in places like the U.S., conservatives – who make up over one-third of the population – have even politicized anti-sustainability and intentionally do not adopt sustainable business practices, as a form of protest.

In addition to U.S. conservatives, there is a growing movement of other voices in the U.S., for example, who are challenging the idea of sustainability, and in doing so have exposed that environmentalist organizations, or “Big Green” groups, “have just 22% non-white senior staff in a nation that is about 40 percent non-white.” As Zack Coleman wrote in Politico last year: “Would-be allies within the Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities are disaffected by an agenda that many see as focused on save-the-planet idealism at the expense of the nuts-and-bolts concerns of their communities.”

It may be a very frustrating time for people who want to put forth an agenda of implementing behavioral change in the fight against climate change. Perhaps, however, as we take a critical look at such an agenda, it is ripe for change. The mainstream discourse is not only out of touch with the U.S. population, it is in fact completely ignoring the Global South, which has, by far, most of the world’s population. As Harini Nagenda explains in Nature: “The limited Western view of sustainability is stifling progress, just as the world faces crises over water, climate change, energy, and biodiversity. That view… does a disservice to the variety and creativity of thinking and actions on sustainability in societies across the globe.”

Creativity and innovation, Nagendra points out, “have brought sustainability issues into everyday conversations in India. They have inspired generations of activists. Yet most university courses on sustainability omit them. Teachings still have a Western focus, even in India. Most books on sustainability frame the discourse in terms of Earth’s finite resources and rising population.”

So how can we frame the discourse to include all voices? I spoke with 11 researchers who have focused their scholarship on sustainability and the global south to find out. They include Henry Telli, Dr. Lisa Schipper, Joyce Ojino, Laura Pereira, Ashley Dawson, Oliver Harman, Mucahid Bayrak, Thomas Tanner, Blane Harvey, Giulio Verdini, and Dr. Eghosa Ekhator. With suggestions that range from a reconceptualization of sustainability to debt cancellation, they examine current roadblocks and provide a path to understanding.

Stylized collage with hands of people with multiple skin tones reaching for the earth.

Henry Telli, Country Economist, Ghana Country Programme, International Growth Centre (IGC), London School of Economics; @HenryTelli

“Faster and widespread deployment of emerging low carbon technologies together with drastic shifts in the incentives of businesses away from producing and using fossil fuels is the surest way to achieve the global sustainability target.”

Technology is key

“Policymakers need to admit that unless the very latest technologies are made quickly accessible and more affordable to developing countries who desperately want to grow, develop and escape poverty, emissions will continue to rise. Developing countries are currently the recipients of older technologies, and without a deliberate effort to change this, the problem of high carbon emissions will just be shifted from the developed to developing countries.”

Read Henri Telli’s groundbreaking work on economics and migration from the journal Migration and Development. Additionally, you can browse his working paper “Technology and Tax Capacity: Evidence from Local Governments in Ghana” here.

Solar thermal sustainable energy in Ain Beni Mathar

Dr. Lisa Schipper, Department of Geography, University of Bonn; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Climate and Development; @schipper_lisa

“The majority of knowledge driving policy on sustainable development and environmental change comes from the Global North, which paints an incomplete and misleading picture of what we know and what the problems are. This impacts our ability to make impactful changes.”

Eliminate barriers

“We need to highlight and work to eliminate the barriers facing sustainability scholars from the Global South. While some of these are systemic, such as lack of investment in research institutions, many are lower-hanging. These can include free access to journals or more explicit requirements for research projects to be led by Global South scholars.”

The Editors of Climate and Development have written “Equity in climate scholarship: a manifesto for action,” which is free to access and gives more important points on how to close the inequality gap in climate scholarship.

A sign that says "break down the barriers".

Joyce Ojino, PhD candidate, Global Change Institute, University of the Witwatersrand; @ojinoj

“To be globally inclusive, there is a need to acknowledge how differences in languages, worldviews, and cultures can lead to different conceptualizations of sustainability issues, and therefore result in a wide range of solutions. Considering these aspects during policy design can lead to the creation of solutions that are more relevant and acceptable to diverse groups.”

Conceptualize differently

“Though efforts have been made to include indigenous and local knowledge and enable the participation of traditionally marginalized groups, there is still heavy reliance on Western systems of knowledge and technologies when designing and implementing policies for sustainability.”

Karo Windmills electricity generator wind turbine energy windmill windpower wind power electricity

Laura Pereira, Associate Professor, University of the Witwatersrand; @laurap18

“I think the most critical aspect is for policy makers to take multiple scales (temporal and geographical) into account. For this, they need to make the brave decision to move out of their comfort zone of election cycles and start implementing decisions and interventions with much longer-term horizons, as this is what counts for sustainability. They also need to move beyond thinking just of their own jurisdictions, but about what effects their decisions have at the planetary level, because fundamentally we are all interconnected for better or for worse.”

A planetary perspective

“So, to reflect on what impact does this decision have not just on my constituency, but on constituencies outside? What are the implications in the Global South for a policy decision around switching to electric vehicles, for instance, where will that lithium and cobalt for batteries come from? What does my switch to locally sourced food mean for international trade-dependent workers? Taking a planetary perspective is essential both for improving sustainability outcomes, and doing so in a more equitable and just way.”

For further reading, check out Pereira’s contribution to the book Food, Energy and Water Sustainability free to access at this link.

Parking lot with white paint on 2 parking spots that says "Electric vehicles only"

Ashley Dawson, Professor Postcolonial Studies, City University of New York; @AshleyDawsonNYC

“Policy makers can be globally inclusive when it comes to sustainability by cancelling all debt owed by Global South nations. This debt is odious in both the legal and vernacular senses.”

Climate reparations

“In addition, policy makers in wealthy countries should pay climate reparations, since their nations have effectively colonized the atmosphere with their greenhouse gas emissions. Such payments should be in the form of grants, not loans with steep interest or other conditions attached.”

For further reading, find Ashley Dawson’s articles “Putting a Human Face on Climate Change” and “Decolonizing the Seed Commons: Biocapitalism, Agroecology, and Visual Culture” free to access at these links.

Global paper money

Oliver Harman, Cities Economist, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford; @IGC_CtW

“Global value chains (GVCs) represent an important opportunity for policy makers to be globally inclusive when it comes to sustainability. As our recent Regional Studies Association Policy Impact Book outlines, ‘as the globe transitions to net zero emissions, more goods and services will become inherently green, creating new and different ”’green” global value chains.”

Choice is key

“Jennifer Musisi, former Executive Director of Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda, describes their importance for the Global South. She states in the book’s policy foreword that harnessing global value chains gives leaders, especially in developing economies, ‘choice of how best to drive their development based on existing strengths, innovations and resources.’ They have potential to enable sustainable change – connecting firms, markets, and governments to act in global best interest.”

For further reading, find Jennifer Musisi’s foreword to Harnessing Global Value Chains for regional development: How to upgrade through regional policy, FDI, and trade here, and the book’s key messages here, free to access.

Kampala, Uganda

Mucahid Bayrak, Associate Professor, Dept. of Geography, National Taiwan Normal University; Associate Editor, Climate and Development.

“With the advent of the Anthropocene, it is a good trend that discussions among policy makers are shifting towards becoming globally more inclusive. There is, however, an important pitfall. We should not assume that everyone is equally responsible for the existential threats humanity is currently facing.”

Hold corporations responsible

“So instead of implementing climate change mitigation projects among subsistence-based Indigenous and other rural communities, we need to hold industrialized societies, and transnational corporations in particular, more responsible for their ecological footprint. Policy makers should not abuse their power to force those without power to clean up our ‘mess’.”

For further reading, the articles Appraising the community in community-based tourism and Disentangling the concepts of global climate change, adaptation, and human mobility: a political-ecological exploration in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta are free to access.

Smoke coming out of factory chimneys

Dr. Thomas Tanner, CeDEP Centre Director and Programme Convenor, Climate Change and Development; SOAS University of London; Associate Editor, Climate and Development; @tommytanner

“Promoting globally inclusive behavior and policy on climate change faces a critical problem: Decisions to pollute now and in one place have impacts in the future in other places and on other people. The dominant storyline of disaster (individual disaster events, habitat destruction, or planetary crisis) does not address this problem.”

Start locally

“Instead, we need to start with locally relevant priorities: cleaner air, lower energy bills, future-proofed job creation, and resilience thinking that situates the local experience within wider systems.”

For further reading, the first chapter, “Urban climate change resilience ‘reset'” of the book Resilience Reset: Creating Resilient Cities in the Global South by Aditya V. Bahadur and Thomas Tanner, is free to access.

Senior man looking at his bills

Blane Harvey, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University; Associate Editor, Climate and Development. @BlaneHarvey

“Communities who are at the frontlines of climate and sustainability crises need a seat at the table when it comes to designing and implementing responses. We’ve known this for a long time, but most funding decisions, program development, and criteria for evaluating success are still controlled by policy-makers and advisors in the Global North with very limited involvement of stakeholders based where the action will be taking place.”

Collaboration and transparency

“Recent research (1, 2) has shown how this can lead to an inequitable distribution of resources, introduce systemic barriers for Southern organizations to play a leadership role in responses, and create an overall lack of ownership of global action in the places that are most at risk. Reviewing how the earliest stages of planning and decision-making can be made more transparent and collaborative (for example, using principles of co-design) can avoid locking in biases and inequities that limit the impact of even the most well-intentioned initiatives.”

For further reading, the articles “Breaking vicious cycles? A systems perspective on Southern leadership in climate and development research programmes” by Blane Harvey, Ying-Suan Huang, Julio Araujo, Katharine Vincent, and Geoffrey Sabiiti; and “Funding flows for climate change research on Africa: where do they come from and where do they go?”  by Indra Overland, Haakon Fossum Sagbakken, Aidai Isataeva, Galina Kolodzinskaia, Nicholas Philip Simpson, Christopher Trisos, and Roman Vakulchukis, are free to access.

Flooding in Jakarta

Giulio Verdini, Associate Professor, University of Westminster; Visiting Professor, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco; @giulioverdini

“Local policy makers in the Global South can make a difference if they take climate resiliency seriously. And this is what is happening based on my experience in rural areas of Morocco. The tangible impact of climate change, such as lack of water and drought is reshaping local political agendas. Communities are more concerned and vocal on this and public discussions are taking place and facilitated. This is all positive.”

Decolonizing the narrative

“On the other hand, there are other experiences when local policy makers still are complacent with, for example, profit seeking abstract ideas of city development, which are climate unresponsive and often socially exclusive. Besides the obvious economic and political gains, it is also a question of changing mentality. This would require not only the decolonization of practices but also the decolonization of imaginaries, narratives and aspirations. That would really make policy makers globally sustainable, no matter where they operate.”

For further reading, check out Giulio Verdini’s introduction to this book “Culture and Rural–Urban Revitalisation in South Africa: Indigenous Knowledge, Policies, and Planning.

View over a village in Morocco with snowy Atlas mountains in the background

Dr. Eghosa Ekhator, Senior Lecturer in Law, Derby Law School; @Goser_ovbiedo

“Africa is unduly impacted by climate disasters. Climate justice, which is a variant of the environmental justice paradigm, can be used as a tool or one of the strategies to improve access to justice for climate change victims in developing countries (including, for example, Nigeria). There is a plethora of definitions or connotations of climate justice, and arguably, there is no universally accepted definition of climate justice. For example, climate justice is premised on the need for international law to protect the rights of the most vulnerable people from the unequal negative impacts of climate change.”

Tools for climate justice

“Reliance on climate litigation is on the rise globally. Hence, climate litigation is one of the tools or strategies that can be used to promote climate justice especially in cases instituted against multinational corporations in different parts of the world (especially in developing countries).” 

For further reading, check out Dr. Ekhator’s contribution to the “Evolution of the SDGs framework,” the introduction to the book Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.

Symbols of the legal system, gavel, book, and scales of justice.

Including all voices in the quest for sustainability will take change: change of discourse with a new acknowledgement of differences in “languages, worldviews and cultures”; changes in how and where countries invest (looking at grants instead of loans, etc.); and change from short-term to long term thinking, outside of election cycles.

Decisions need to be made with an understanding of how they will affect local people in real-time – what Dr. Thomas Tanner calls “resilience thinking” – as well as how these decisions will affect people on the other side of the world, as Laura Pereira noted, a switch to electric vehicles for one country needs to consider how it will impact mining of lithium or cobalt on another country.

A world dominated by a “Western” population (and Western thought) is a thing of the past. By 2030, modeling indicates that 1/3 of the world’s population will either live in India or China, and “half of the global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to be in just eight countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.” The diverse arguments put forward by the experts who have contributed to this article illustrate why these countries, and others, urgently ought to have a seat at the table. A broader discussion will enable policies that are more likely to succeed.

Stylized collage of people with multiple skin tones on either side of the earth.

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Research Impact Hub: the role of research in policy and public engagement

Curated content on policy engagement, public engagement, and the role and contribution of publishers.

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Research Impact Hub: the role of research in policy and public engagement

Free resources, commentary, and analysis

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Welcome to our Research Impact Hub, where you’ll find curated content on policy engagement, public engagement, and the role and contribution of publishers. 

Whether the pressing issue is climate change or COVID-19, studies show that community participation in world-changing endeavors is absolutely imperative to individual participation. Research that has world-changing impact needs to reach politicians and policymakers who have the power to educate and influence communities. As publishers, we help translate and disseminate this research, which provides solutions to the biggest challenges of our time.

While we’re excited about the content on this Hub, it is here for you, not us, and intended to stimulate debate and discussion. If you have ideas or information to contribute, we’d love to share it here. Please contact us at communications@tandf.co.uk.

Related: Research Impact at Taylor & Francis

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Policy engagement

Viewpoint

Answering the challenges to Open Access: The ‘5 Cs’

by Sarah Chaytor, Director of Research Strategy and Policy at UCL

Open access does not automatically make research accessible. If policymakers are unable to find relevant research, or to understand highly technical outputs, they cannot make use of the evidence being published. Sarah Chaytor provides a framework to help policy communities benefit from the increasing volume of research in order to deliver evidence-informed policy.

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‘In an open access world, would evidence-based policymaking be the norm?’

Victoria Gardner, Director of Policy at Taylor & Francis

At a HEPI/Taylor & Francis roundtable in June 2022, several experts, including representatives from higher education institutions, advocacy organizations, trade bodies, UK Government, funders, learned societies, and publishing, explored these questions: How do we make research more usable? How do we ensure research benefits all stakeholders? Is it enough simply to make the outputs of research openly available?

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Public engagement

Article

Centering culture in public engagement on climate change

by Debashish Munshi, Priya Kurian, Raven Cretney, Sandra L. Morrison, and Lyn Kathlene in Environmental Communication

Arguing for a greater emphasis on culture in climate communication, the authors of this article construct a culture-centered framework for a deliberative approach to public engagement on climate change. The framework has the potential to reframe environmental communication on climate change by highlighting the specific contexts of people’s lived experiences.

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Evidence Week 2021 – the basis of public support for climate policies

In this video, shot for Evidence Week, Research Fellow Joanna Depledge from the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy, and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG), and former editor of Climate Policy, discusses research showing how public acceptance led to the success of climate policies.

Video of Joanna Depledge from Evidence Week 2021.

The role and contribution of publishers

Blog

Engaged research and publication in the humanities: what connects us?

by Katherine Burton, Routledge Journals (Humanities, Media and the Arts)

Finding ways to navigate an increasingly digitally complex research and publishing ecosystem can be a challenge, but it also presents a wonderful opportunity for those involved in scholarly communication to support new research practices. How might publishers work alongside scholars to support this evolution and respond to needs emerging now and in the future?

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Blog

A typology of the publicly engaged humanities

by Daniel Fisher, National Humanities Alliance

In this blog post, Daniel Fisher provides a summary of publicly engaged humanities work that Humanities for All has compiled from colleges and universities across the U.S. over the last 10 years. Examining 1,500 initiatives, Humanities for All has discovered five distinct types of engagement, which Fisher explains “serve as a structure for articulating the public value of the humanities to students, parents, administrators, and elected officials, (that) can articulate the range of ways in which the humanities are addressing society’s pressing concerns, broadening perceptions of what humanities work can involve and impact.”

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Working paper

Public humanities and publication: publishing and the Public Humanities Working Group

by Kath Burton, Daniel Fisher

In this working paper, Kath Burton and Daniel Fisher explore the challenges associated with the publication of publicly engaged work in the humanities, and provide model practices to illustrate how publicly engaged work can ultimately lead to successful publication and feed into institutional credit and reward mechanisms.

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Established in 2002, HEPI is a UK-wide, independent, and non-partisan organization funded by organizations and universities that wish to see a vibrant higher education debate. HEPI is playing a key role in shaping the debate through evidence around the future development of higher education in the UK.

HEPI’s objectives are to promote research into and understanding of all aspects of higher education and to disseminate the useful results of such research for the education and benefit of policy makers and the general public in the UK.

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Climate change and the Global South at COP27

Six experts highlight what developing countries need from UNFCCC members at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP).

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Climate change and the Global South at COP27

Achieving climate justice for developing countries

An older man stands in front of the remains of his house following flooding in Pakistan

An older man stands in front of the remains of his house following flooding in Pakistan

Over time, wealthy countries from the Global North have been responsible for the majority of emissions that cause climate change.

Research shows that over the past 30 years the Global South has also become increasingly responsible. But emissions from the Global South are highly concentrated – the top 10 highest polluting countries in the Global South account for 78% of the group’s emissions.

Meanwhile, there are 120 countries that account for just 22% of all Global South emissions. Many of these developing nations are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as flooding, drought, intense heat, and disease.

COP26 failures

There was disappointment from developing countries in the Global South following 2021’s Conference of the Parties (COP26). U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres also highlighted the lack of support for developing countries in his address at the end of the conference.

COP27 – which runs from 6–18 November 2022 in Egypt – provides an opportunity for UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) members to do more to ensure low-income countries in the Global South have the resources they need to tackle climate change.

But with so many issues to consider, what should be the focus of COP27 in regard to climate justice and the Global South?

We asked six experts for their insights.

“…every dollar invested in renewable energy now prevents some future damage…”

Dr. Michael Olabisi:

What is needed from UNFCCC members at COP27 must include both incentives and penalties that push high-income members to meet their current commitments to support the transition to renewable energy for the Global South.

Specifically, Annex II countries (the developed nations that must provide developing countries with financial resources to manage climate change) that are falling behind on their commitments to the Green Climate Fund – and other commitments – should lose committee seats on COP’s subsidiary bodies, or at least not be given the highest places of honor at the COP28 meetings after a gentle rebuke at the COP27 meetings.

Concurrently, the articles should be updated to give countries that meet their commitments more of a role on the permanent and ad-hoc committees of the UNFCCC COP, and a more prominent place when it is time for the honors at COP27 and 28.

Such actions can motivate cooperation while recognizing that progress on a global renewable transition is a climate justice issue.

We all have an ethical responsibility to address climate mitigation and adaptation steps in the Global South.

Urgency

Timing matters.

In this fight to avoid average global warming of more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels – or better yet, the 1.5 C warming scientists are now saying should be the target – solar panels manufactured and installed in African cities in 2022 will be more effective at preventing further climate change than the same panels installed in 2030.

The need for urgency reflects the reality that every dollar invested in renewable energy now prevents some future damage to forest biomass, or even better, avoids lock-in to inefficient and carbon-intensive energy sources like diesel generators or coal-fired power plants, for the countries that would suffer the most from the impacts of climate change.

Dr. Michael Olabisi is a tenure stream Assistant Professor in Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE) in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. He has published his research in journals including Climate and Development, Journal of African Trade, and Economic Policy.

Aerial shot of solar farm in Chile

Cop27 logo displayed on smartphone screen

“…the rush to secure and expand fossil fuel production threatens to roll back hard-won climate action…”

Dr. Kennedy Mbeva:

Recent geopolitical developments, especially the unraveling global energy crisis, call for revisiting and refining the concept of Just Transition.

While countries at the UNFCCC, under the Paris Agreement, have committed to (ambitious) climate action, questions on how to realize these commitments remain under-examined.

By bringing the issue of Just Transition to the center of discussions and debates on climate policy, countries can begin to effectively tackle difficult and challenging policy questions.

Threats to climate action

Clearly, the global energy crisis and its derivative implications – especially the rush to secure and expand fossil fuel production under the guise of energy security – threatens to roll back hard-won climate action.

Reconciling these seemingly contradictory policy developments – i.e. energy security and ambitious climate action – would require a clear-eyed and pragmatic approach that can be primarily achieved through the lens of the Just Transition.

Only by doing so can the relevance and effectiveness of the UNFCCC as the main policy arena for global climate action be realized and enhanced.

Dr. Kennedy Mbeva is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Global Economic Governance program at the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government and Co-Founder of the Africa Research & Impact Network (ARIN).

Students protest about climate change in Cape Town, South Africa

Aerial shot of oil refinery at night

“Funding for loss and damage needs to be stepped up…”

Nathan Oxley and Professor Lyla Mehta

Today’s changing climate is occurring in the context of a long history. The relationships between rich and poor nations have been deeply shaped by colonialism, injustice, and extraction.

The legacy of these stories continues today in many arenas of trade, economy, and development, and climate change is no exception.

Recognizing inequity and injustice

Richer countries, that continue to benefit from debt regimes and reap the rewards of extractive industries, must recognize this history as they consider their responsibilities.

What’s more, they continue to be the worst polluters and worst emitters of carbon.

So climate action is not just about helping the most vulnerable – it’s realizing how this vulnerability is caused and shaped by inequity and injustice, and the extraction and hoarding of wealth, both within nations and across the globe.

Too many “climate solutions” continue to be imposed from above, guided by the rich world’s interests – sometimes leading to maladaptation, like building concrete seawalls in places where mangroves could protect coasts, or planting trees unsuited to local ecologies.

Instead, supporting local knowledge and ideas can help to avoid such mistakes, account for uncertainties, and allow more flexible, adaptive, and long-term plans to emerge.

Co-producing new ideas as we have done in the Tapestry project with those on the front line means paying attention to their evidence and experience alongside more technical or scientific data.

Multiple causes

At the same time, many of the worst struggles in coasts, drylands, and cities are not just due to climate change.

Inequalities and marginalization, poverty, pollution, and poor infrastructure are systemic problems that make extreme weather or rising temperatures hit some people much harder.

This means that funding for loss and damage needs to be stepped up, to help the poorest communities deal with climate-related hazards – addressing the multiple reasons why people are vulnerable to shocks and stresses.

Nathan Oxley is Impact Communications and Engagement Officer at IDS (Institute of Development Studies). Professor Lyla Mehta is a Professorial Fellow at IDS, Principal Investigator on the Tapestry project, and Co-Editor of The Politics of Climate Change and Uncertainty in India. She is also a visiting professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Residents queue for water after a flood in Peru

Solar thermal sustainable energy, Noor Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Station Complex. Morocco

“We can no longer afford to ‘park’ the climate crisis…”

Dr. Pieter Pauw:

The most important thing is to deliver on existing pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

There are many plans and targets on the table, including the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the long-term strategies that countries submitted to the UNFCCC under the Paris Agreement. However, many countries, including the G20, are falling short of achieving the targets that were set.

The choice of the president of the COP, Egypt, to focus on implementation, is therefore the right way forward.

Financial support

Finance is also going to be a central issue at COP27.

Developed countries support developing countries with climate finance to cut greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and to adapt to climate change impacts. In 2009, developed countries pledged to mobilize $100 billion per year from 2020 onwards. This target was missed in 2020, even by developed countries’ own accounting.

According to the OECD, $83.3 billion was mobilized by the end of 2020. This broken promise frustrates developing countries and will continue to plague the negotiations in Egypt.

Building trust

Trust can be increased between developed and developing countries by moving forward negotiations on finance in four ways.

First, by making clear when and how the annual $100 billion will be mobilized. It will severely undermine the negotiations if developed countries continue to fail on this target.

Second, progress is needed in negotiations for the so-called New Collective Quantitative Goal (NCQG) for climate finance post-2025. Simply increasing the current goal ($100 billion per year) may be ineffective – the nature of the target should also be considered. For example, climate finance targets have a dual and sometimes contrasting role: mobilizing investment at scale, and transferring resources from developed countries to address the needs of developing countries.

Recognizing this duality may help to find common ground for a post-2025 climate finance target. In addition, there needs to be more clarity on the relationship between climate finance and Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement, where Parties agreed to make all financial flows “climate consistent.” While the former is about mobilizing billions of dollars to support developing countries, the latter is about shifting trillions of U.S. dollars away from carbon-intensive assets to low-carbon assets.

Third, developing countries want financial support to deal with loss and damage caused by climate change.

After the recent devastating floods in Pakistan, its Minister of Climate Change Sherry Rehman stated:

“We are on the frontline and intend to keep loss and damage and adapting to climate catastrophes at the core of our arguments and negotiations.

“There will be no moving away from that.”

Developed countries have shown more interest in loss and damage in recent years, including Germany’s promotion of an insurance-based “global shield” for climate victims. However, developed countries fear that direct financing for loss and damage will result in claims for compensation from those countries that have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases.

At COP27, countries need to find an acceptable compromise on how to move forward in terms of making finance available to help developing countries deal with the costs of loss and damage.

Fourth, we should finally grasp the nettle and work towards rapidly declining investments in fossil fuel assets. In Glasgow at the last COP, a group of 34 countries signed an agreement to end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022, except in limited and clearly defined circumstances that are consistent with a 1.5 C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement.

This was a major breakthrough because export credit agencies (ECAs) massively support fossil fuel projects. In 2016–2018, the ECAs of the G20 provided at least $120.3 billion in support for fossil fuel projects. However, 2022 is almost over, and not every signatory has delivered on this pledge.

Maintaining focus

Clearly, all of this is further complicated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the consequent soaring energy and food prices around the world.

However, the door to limiting global warming to 1.5 C is rapidly closing. We can no longer afford to park the climate crisis while we deal with another crisis, as we did with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Pieter Pauw is a researcher and international climate policy advisor at the Eindhoven University of Technology. He focuses on climate finance, climate policy, adaptation, and climate justice. He’s Co-Editor of Making Climate Action More Effective and has published research in journals including Climate Policy, Climate and Development, and Environmental Politics.

Baker making a bread delivery by cycle in Cairo, Egypt

An engineer climbs and oil and gas process plant tower

“It’s time to move equity to the center of the negotiations…”

Jane Wilkinson:

Like-for-like, all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are equal. To the atmosphere, the origin of emissions is irrelevant.

What matters is volume. And the correlation between emissions and wealth – or the absence of emissions and extreme poverty – is unequivocal.

COVID-19 amplified inequality. And with continuing global disruptions to food and energy supply chains and a cost-of-living crisis, this expansion looks set to continue. The jarring truth is the rich will get richer while the world’s poor and vulnerable will continue to bear the disproportionate burden of climate change impacts.

How have we ended up here? And what can countries do at COP27, to change it?

Fairness

Under the Paris Agreement, countries decide what constitutes their “fair share” of the global effort through their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

This self-referential individualism was an essential ingredient of a global agreement in 2015. But with the sum of efforts still falling woefully short of either the mitigation or investment needed to limit warming to 1.5 C or even 2 C, we are widening the inequality gap and imperiling our children’s futures. And there is nothing fair about that.

Billed as an “African COP”, the geography of COP27 could help to focus minds on solving these wicked and intersecting problems. COPs are known for their announcements and meaningfully vague decision texts, but this year, we must act like we mean it.

Achieving carbon equity

The solution is deceptively simple.

For many COP negotiations, equity is an uncomfortable reference point that sits, literally, in the margin. It’s time to move equity to the center of the negotiations, by making the achievement of carbon equity a cornerstone of future efforts.

A declaration, pact, or “carbon equity mandate” would be helpful of course, but countries, especially wealthy ones, can start acting today in the following ways:

1. Submit updated, more ambitious NDCs as they were invited to do under the Glasgow Pact.

Climate action is not politically easy or cost neutral. Governments could start by reframing a “fair share” to include those who have exactly nothing to contribute by way of mitigation or cash, and who have only their lives to lose.

Stronger mitigation goals would be the best signal yet to developing countries that they will be fairly compensated for protecting nature – on humanity’s behalf. To date, only 19 countries have submitted updates and, of these, only three (Australia, Switzerland, and the U.K.) are from the Global North.

2. Explain actions they’ve taken in 2022 to ensure the timely arrival of the already delayed $100 billion for the Global South. Even more importantly, wealthy countries should demonstrate they are ready to move past red lines and start restructuring vulnerable and poor countries’ distressed sovereign debt.

How many lives could be transformed if, instead of quibbling over text, Parties could negotiate the release of funds and collaborate on options to integrate climate action into spending plans?

The relevant stakeholders will all be in Egypt.

Urgency is key

The geopolitics of COP27 are tricky.

Post-COVID economic performance is patchy; a war in Europe threatens food and energy supply; the era of low-interest rates has ended; and public budgets are in deficit.

Even so, the clock ticks on ever closer to “midnight.” There will never be a better time to act than today. And tomorrow might be too late.

Jane Wilkinson is Principal and Head of Climate Change and Environment Practice at Abt Associates, an organization that aims to improve the lives and economic wellbeing of people around the world. She’s author of “Building more common wealth in a climate changed world” in the journal Round Table.

Young women protest about climate change

Impala antelope drinking water in South Africa

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Getting more girls in STEM

Find out how we can maintain girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at school and university with insights from several leading educational experts and STEM practitioners.

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Getting more girls in STEM

How to maintain participation through school and higher education

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills are crucial to a prosperous economy.

This is why governments invest heavily in STEM education and research.

A major focus of this investment has been addressing the shortage of women in STEM. Yet women are still significantly underrepresented in many parts of the sector.

In the U.K., U.S., and China, around 25% of those working in science and technology are women. In the U.K. and U.S. engineering sectors, it’s as low as 10%.

The situation in some countries is even worse. In Turkey, women make up just 5% of the science and technology workforce.

Losing interest

Girls tend to have the same level of interest in mathematics and science as boys throughout their primary schooling. But girls’ interest in these subjects wanes in adolescence. This leads to fewer women than men studying STEM subjects in higher education and even fewer going on to have a career in STEM.

Using the insights and observations of educational experts and women working in the field, this article examines why fewer women than men work in STEM. It highlights ways that schools, parents, policymakers, and researchers can get more girls into STEM so they continue their STEM education and enter STEM-related careers.

A woman and two girls doing a technology experiment, shot from above.
A woman and two girls doing a technology experiment, shot from above.

Key points

  • More girls and young women studying STEM subjects benefits all of society, not just the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics sectors
  • There isn’t a shortage of women in all areas of STEM
  • Gender stereotypes and a lack of role models are among the reasons why fewer girls than boys get into STEM, but the attractiveness of careers in other fields is also a factor
  • Girls tend to do better than boys in STEM-related subjects at school
  • Parents and carers can help girls develop a “STEM identity” from a young age

Why we need more girls in STEM

“Historically, researchers and policymakers paid attention to increasing women in STEM for gender equity,” says Dr. Hyun Kyoung Ro, co-editor of Gender Equity in STEM in Higher Education and Associate Professor of Counseling and Higher Education at the University of North Texas.

“STEM professions often pay better than other professional sectors, thus having more women in STEM can decrease the gender gap in earnings.”

But a diversified workforce is more than just about equity. Attracting and retaining more women in STEM benefits the sector – and society – too.

“STEM disciplines have been known as white, middle-income, heterosexual, able-bodied, and men-dominated fields,” adds Dr. Ro.

We are excluding some smart, talented, and curious women from the field – all of their potential work, discoveries, and intellectual gifts to the field are lost

Maryann Stimmer

“Technology designed by engineers and scientists with diverse backgrounds can advance products and services for consumers who have diverse needs. That’s why we need more women in STEM – particularly women of color and women scientists who have diverse social identities and backgrounds.”

This ultimately boosts innovation, creativity, and competitiveness.

“We are excluding some smart, talented, and curious women from the field,” adds Maryann Stimmer, Senior Technical Advisor for STEM Programs at FHI 360, a non-profit that partners with governments and organizations to bring about positive social change and provide quality education.

“All of their potential work, discoveries, and intellectual gifts to the field are lost. What if Barbara McClintock hadn’t been so persistent about a STEM career? All of Watson and Crick’s work [on DNA] grew from hers.

“What if Adriana Ocampo hadn’t defied the odds of becoming a planetary geologist? How far behind in planetary analysis would we be?”

Effect on retention

More women in STEM can also help tackle the “masculine default” in organizations that leads to women leaving STEM or not starting a STEM career in the first place:

“I have experience of female engineers quitting engineering jobs for teaching positions,” says Dr. Doras Sibanda, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and regular contributor to journals including the African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education and Education 3–13.

“This is a reflection that the workplace has not changed in terms of work expectations for men and women.”

STEM literacy

The “STEM literacy” capabilities girls develop in school and higher education are also important in all fields, not just STEM:

“This increases their chances of engaging with and viewing the world through a rational lens, and using STEM knowledge and skills to improve their own life chances and those of others,” says Dr. Anne Forbes, Senior Lecturer in STEM Education at Macquarie School of Education and co-author of STEM Education in the Primary School: A Teacher’s Toolkit.

Professor Emma Smith, Head of the Department of Education Studies at the University of Warwick and regular contributor to journals including Oxford Review of Education also highlights the significance of STEM literacy:

“There is the importance of having a scientifically literate population who can consume basic scientific information so they are able to engage critically with issues that concern us today – whether it is about understanding the climate emergency or the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as well as evaluating the risks associated with COVID and so on.”

Girl conducting science experiment with probes

Are there fewer women than men in all areas of STEM?

“When we approach STEM as a broad category, we often miss the complexity of STEM sub-disciplines in terms of gender equity issues,” says Dr. Ro.

“At the undergraduate level of higher education, only some STEM fields have a lack of women.”

“When policymakers talk about STEM subjects, they tend to be referring to a relatively narrow range – usually the natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology,” adds Professor Smith.

“There are fewer girls and young women ‘getting into’ some of these subjects and participation can be highly gendered – for example higher proportions of females studying biological sciences and higher proportions of males studying engineering.

“By focusing on this relatively narrow range of subjects we may forget that there are other areas of STEM where higher proportions of women do take part – such as the behavioral sciences – notably psychology – and the medical sciences – especially nursing.”

However, even this can lead to fewer women moving onto a career in a sub-category of the field:

“The STEM subject areas with the highest rates of graduate employment – such as the engineering sciences – are those dominated by male students.

“Those with the lowest rates of graduate employment – the biological sciences, for example – are dominated by female students,” says Professor Smith.

Dental nurse examining x-ray

Why fewer girls than boys go into STEM

“There are many reasons at individual, institutional, and societal levels that prevent women from pursuing STEM degrees and careers,” says Dr. Ro.

“It’s a complex problem with many factors,” adds Dr. Forbes.

Competency isn’t a cause

“Among individual factors, research has shown that girls are as good at math – or even better – and as interested in math as boys,” says Dr. Ro.

“The 2015 National Center for Education Statistics’ Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) reported that, at Grade 8 level, only 6 out of the 39 participating countries reflected a statistically significant gender gap favoring boys,” adds Professor Sarah Bansilal, Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Chief Editor of African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education.

“Meanwhile, seven countries reported a statistically significant gender difference favoring girls.”

Girls underestimate their science abilities

Dr. Anne Forbes

So if it’s not competency in STEM subjects holding girls back from a career in STEM, what is?

Gender bias

“Gender stereotypes against girls and women are still ongoing in STEM learning and STEM fields,” says Dr. Ro.

“Parents, teachers, and community members may not see the potential in STEM for girls and young women, particularly for women of color.

“White and Asian girls may consider STEM careers because they are often exposed to doctors, engineers, or scientists of their same race.

“Latina and Black women students may not have as many chances to interact with same-race STEM professionals.”

Dr. Forbes agrees: “Uninformed or biased perspectives by advertisers, media program developers, parents, relatives, and teachers combine to provide a male-centric view of STEM.

“This excludes or marginalizes girls and young women from engaging with STEM ways of thinking and working.”

Dr. Forbes highlights these examples:

  1. Advertisers of children’s toys presenting STEM as a male domain
  2. Parents, carers, and relatives making decisions about whether to enroll their children in STEM activities
  3. Teacher ignorance or bias when preparing and implementing learning experiences

This can feed into societal norms about gendered roles, says Professor Smith:

“Recent research with secondary-age students shows that the image of a lone scientist – usually male – ‘mixing things’ in their lab persists. This is despite decades of interventions to widen knowledge about the breadth of STEM careers and promote the notion of ‘science for all.'”

Self-belief

Girls also tend to have less belief than boys in their STEM-related skills.

“Girls underestimate their science abilities,” says Dr. Forbes.

“A recent study by Webb-Williams made the disturbing finding that, while primary school boys’ and girls’ ‘actual performance in science was similar… girls consistently (and in some cases grossly) underestimated their science performance.’

“Girls mostly did this by negatively comparing their work with that of nearby peers and being highly sensitive to negative verbal, facial, and physical gestures from their peers or teacher,” adds Dr. Forbes.

This means fewer women choosing certain STEM-related subjects at school and in higher education, and fewer choosing a career in some sub-disciplines of STEM.

Stereotype threat

Another possible reason for this lack of self-belief is due to what researchers call the “stereotype threat.”

This is where fear of confirming the negative stereotypes about women and girls in STEM causes girls to doubt their abilities and underperform.

Options beyond STEM

“I think we also need to consider whether any under-representation is not because of an informed and considered choice on their part,” says Professor Smith.

“There is an expanded choice of subjects to study, both at post-16 and, for those who go, university. There are also a lot of different career paths, and it may be that many girls and young women see opportunities and challenges beyond the traditionally defined borders of STEM.”

Close up of a girl using a calculator

Why are there more women in STEM in the Middle East and North Africa?

In a book chapter in Gender Equity in STEM in Higher Education, authors Seungah S. Lee, Christine Min Wotipka, and Francisco O. Ramirez highlight that 45% of STEM degree holders in the Middle East and northern Africa are women. This is a much higher figure than in North America and Europe, where the figure is just 30%.

“Some scholars argue that countries with high levels of gender equality have the largest STEM disparities by gender in secondary and post-secondary education,” says Dr. Ro.

“They have claimed that when economic opportunities are higher and risks are less – as is the case in most gender-equal countries – individuals may choose academic and career paths based on their interests and academic strengths.”

In Gender Equity in STEM in Higher Education, “Lee and her colleagues found a similar pattern across countries and discussed how both men and women students may choose a field of study based on individual preferences in Western society and individualist cultures,” adds Dr. Ro.

This could help explain why fewer women study STEM degrees in North America and Europe and why the Middle Eastern and north African region may be more open to women in STEM.

Woman in hijab and protective glasses typing

How to get more girls and young women into STEM

Policymakers, schools and universities, and parents can all play a part in encouraging and supporting girls so they’re more likely to develop and retain an interest in STEM.

This can start early in a girl’s life:

“A person’s identity begins to form from birth,” says Dr. Forbes.

“Well before a child leaves primary school their ‘STEM identity’ is – or is not – developing, and notably, it takes time to develop.”

What can parents and carers do?

“Parents should ensure they do not have different expectations for girls and boys, in terms of academic performance, sports, and responsibilities at home,” says Professor Bansilal.

“Set high expectations for children irrespective of gender.”

“Parents should not assign gender roles to children at a young age,” adds Dr. Sibanda.

“They should also support girls in the same way they support boys, both financially and emotionally.”

Get messy

“Give them experiences that let them explore – and sometimes make a mess,” says Ms. Stimmer.

Make oobleck with young children. Encourage building and asking questions. Let them take guesses and learn to refine their answers.

Well before a child leaves primary school their ‘STEM identity’ is – or is not – developing

Dr. Anne Forbes

“There are so many resources out there now for parents. Even NASA has activities for families to have fun and learn.”

Other influences

Parents also need to be aware of other influences in the community away from school.

“Religious and cultural leaders need to be sensitized to their influence on parents and youngsters,” says Professor Bansilal.

For example, “some religious texts portray girls as being subservient to boys and that males are more important than females.

“In places where religion is viewed as most important, then those perspectives are not questioned by the participants.”

Two young girls pose by an exhibit at a science festival

Highlighting STEM in everyday experiences

Dr. Forbes suggests ways that parents and carers can highlight the influence of STEM in children’s everyday life:

Young girl making pizza at home

Science

The role of science in cooking, cleaning, growing food, and identifying which materials are best for particular purposes

Carer showing young girl how to code on a computer

Technology

The role of technology in communication, entertainment, and health

Young girl riding a bike in tropical country

Engineering

The role of engineering in how products are designed for safety and for a diverse range of users

Mathematics

The role of math in deciding which product is the most affordable and which product has more of the required ingredients per unit

What can schools and universities do?

“Schools need to make sure there is a good representation of STEM teachers in terms of gender, so successful female teachers can act as role models to their learners,” says Professor Bansilal.

Ms. Stimmer agrees: “Create a ‘woke’ faculty.”

Dr. Ro highlights that role models are especially important for Latina and Black students:

“These students do not see role models in their STEM classes. The instruction is isolated from relevant contexts and from students’ identities, and peer culture may be too competitive rather than collaborative,” she says.

“Faculty and administrators should offer more inclusive and welcoming environments to women, particularly to women of color, otherwise they tend to choose other majors which better represent and serve them.”

“They should also make sure that teachers do not promote gendered stereotypes of people who are successful in mathematics and ensure that cultural and social norms that promote gendered attitudes and expectations are recognized and discouraged within the school,” adds Professor Bansilal.

Women teachers can also help girls improve their performance in STEM subjects:

Research by Sullivan and Bers observed that female teachers may have a greater favorable impact on girls’ performance in robotics and coding activities than male teachers,” says Jiahong Su, a researcher in technology and early childhood education at the University of Hong Kong.

Ensuring exposure to STEM subjects

“Exposure to math and advanced math in secondary school is crucial,” says Dr. Ro.

“High schools that do not have a lot of funding and resources – which often have more Black and Latinx students – often do not offer advanced math courses – e.g., Algebra II and Calculus.

“To encourage Latina and Black women students in STEM, an early exposure to math courses through K–12 education is also key,” she adds.

Faculty and administrators should offer more inclusive and welcoming environments to women, particularly to women of color

Dr. Hyun Kyoung Ro

Professor Bansilal thinks there could be a link between the quality of a school and girls’ participation in math and other STEM subjects:

“When schools focus on effective teaching, learning, and academic success, gender differences may not be so noticeable because everybody is focused on improving themselves.

“In a dysfunctional school, the management struggles with making sure that normal activities are done properly. In such a case, practices that discourage girls may not be recognized amongst the ‘noise’ of all the other factors needing attention.”

Get practical

“Make STEM as hands-on as possible,” adds Ms. Stimmer.

“Not just in the science classes, but across the board… hands-on math! Give girls more opportunities to engage before, during, and after school.”

How much should schools do?

“There are a number of potentially conflicting roles for school science education,” says Professor Smith.

“Is its purpose to provide scientific training for a minority in preparation for university and the labor market? Or is there a broader social aim of educating a scientifically literate population, as well as encouraging an enjoyment of learning science for its own sake?”

“We know that making science compulsory in the U.K. more than 30 years ago had little impact on recruitment to STEM subjects at university. So it is difficult to see what further efforts schools can make – particularly within a system that restricts the choice of subjects post-16 and again at university.”

Teacher explaining renewable energy using models

Science teacher teaching chemistry
Science teacher teaching chemistry

The power of female role models

In their paper, “When Do Female Role Models Benefit Women? The Importance of Differentiating Recruitment From Retention in STEM,” Benjamin J. Drury, John Oliver Siy, and Sapna Cheryan highlight how female role models can protect girls and young women from the negative stereotypes that can lead to them underperforming and leaving the field (the “stereotype threat”).

Their research found:

  • Women who are highly identified with math perform better on a math test when they encounter a woman portrayed as highly competent in math
  • Women who take a calculus course with a female teacher have better attitudes toward math
  • Women who read about a successful graduate of their university who majored in the same field rated themselves higher on success-related traits

What can policymakers and researchers do?

“We still need to learn more about the situations under which girls flourish in STEM and those which limit their participation,” says Professor Bansilal.

Ms. Su agrees: “We need more STEM research that only focuses on girls.”

Dr. Ro highlights the need to ensure girls from all backgrounds are included in efforts to get more girls into STEM:

“We should try to focus on the representation of women who have diverse backgrounds – and not just white women or Asian women, particularly in the United States. Throughout K–12 education to higher education, and then to the STEM workforce.

“Also, girls who have the potential for STEM careers – i.e., those who are good at math – tend to be good at other subjects such as literacy. So they have more options to choose from in other majors or careers.

“Thus, having more intentional efforts to prevent the ‘STEM pipeline leakage’ throughout education and the workforce to keep women is necessary.”

The recruitment of female scientists… tends to be motivated by economic concerns rather than a desire to include more women in important and fulfilling careers

Professor Emma Smith

Dr. Ro suggests a sector-wide effort, involving industry and education:

“STEM higher education, industry, and professional associations should offer vision and strategic planning to promote more women engineers and scientists.

“It is a long journey. It should be started from early childhood education and higher education and industry should be engaged in the early stage as well.”

“There needs to be a centralized response internationally and nationally,” adds Dr. Forbes

Reviewing the ‘why’ of policy and research

“The recruitment of female scientists is often framed in policy discussions as a way to overcome perceived shortfalls in the numbers of STEM workers and tends to be motivated by economic concerns rather than a desire to include more women in important and fulfilling careers,” says Professor Smith.

“This is an important point, especially when, as our research has shown, studying STEM subjects is generally advantageous for men in terms of accessing highly skilled STEM employment but was not always associated with higher status occupations among women.”

Woman engineer on site examining plans

Teenage girl demonstrating robot at Science Club
Teenage girl demonstrating robot at Science Club

Case study: The “Discover!” Saturday science-activity club for young secondary school-aged girls

In “Confirming the legitimacy of female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM): evaluation of a UK STEM initiative for girls” for the British Journal of Sociology of Education, author Richard Watermeyer presents a study of the Discover! club for girls aged 12 and 13.

Discover! is dedicated to changing dominant cultural attitudes that discourage female learners from considering STEM, subject, and occupational areas traditionally dominated by men. It uses single-sex workshops and same-sex tutors, encouraging participants to “play-act” as scientists.

The study found that programs like Discover! can enhance learners’ interest in STEM subjects and help them visualize their futures as STEM professionals.

Further reading:

Journal articles

Acknowledgments

As well as thanking the contributors featured in the article, we’d also like to thank the following experts for their insights:

  • Dr. Zhihong Wan, Associate Professor at The Education University of Hong Kong
  • Professor May Cheng, Registrar and Chair Professor of Teacher Education of The Education University of Hong Kong

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Diversity in peer review

In this interview with Rebecca Furlong, Head of Reviewer Programmes at Taylor & Francis, find out what we’re doing to increase diversity and inclusion, specifically in peer review, and why such initiatives are important.

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Diversity in peer review

Why it matters, and what we’re trying to achieve at Taylor & Francis

Photo of a mural which features people of varying skin colors and genders.

At Taylor & Francis, our very purpose is founded on diversity and inclusion – it is an essential element of curating, substantiating, and publishing the experts and truths that matter.

We believe that diversity is a strength and that bringing together a diverse range of people, communities, and opinions is beneficial to the customers and communities we serve, to our colleagues, and ultimately to humankind.

In 2021, Taylor & Francis signed the Joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing, coordinated by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and partnered with the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC). You can read more about both commitments here.

Every September, the academic publishing industry celebrates Peer Review Week; in 2022, it falls on September 19–23.

With Peer Review Week on the horizon, I sat down with Rebecca Furlong, Head of Reviewer Programmes at Taylor & Francis, to ask her what her team is doing to increase diversity and inclusion, specifically in peer review, and why she thinks such initiatives are important.

Leah Kinthaert: What responsibility do you think academic journals should have to increase diversity in peer review?

Rebecca Furlong: I think most people agree there are systemic inequalities already present in wider society, which is why we have a range of protected characteristics including disability, sex, and race amongst others. These inequalities also persist in academia, and there is an argument that, over time, they have been exacerbated by placing a high value on extended education, attendance at specific institutions (often in higher-income countries), and low-paid early careers (which start late). When editors seek peer reviewers, they are searching within a cohort who have successfully navigated these challenges, often as a result of privilege. So they inevitably draw from a pool of people that is already unbalanced.

One of the areas where publishers can make the most impact in improving inclusivity in academia is through the peer review process; in particular, by working with journal editors to develop a diverse reviewer panel (which could include differences in expertise, geography, gender, race/ethnicity, and seniority). While recognizing that expertise in the subject matter of the article is the most important factor in choosing a reviewer, making sure that a mix of reviewers from different backgrounds support the journal improves equity and diversity; and, while a focus on diversity in peer review can’t solve the underlying problems of society, it could have some small effects towards improving diversity in academia as a whole.

Reviewers of course carry with them their own biases (conscious or unconscious). One infamous example occurred a few years ago where a peer reviewer apparently made a value judgment about the gender and experience level of the authors rather than their work. Anecdotally, I have heard researchers suggest that some journals routinely invite the same individuals and thus homogenize their own content. A diversity of voices in peer review is important in balancing different biases and ensuring fair evaluation. This in turn may give a chance to publications from smaller, newer, or underrepresented groups. Since acting as a peer reviewer is something that people can use to further their careers as a demonstration of their authority in a field, and publications are a requirement for progress in an academic career, cumulatively this may also improve diversity in academia.

However, people who have experienced more barriers in access to an academic career may also have more responsibilities or challenges in their personal lives, and thus less time for tasks beyond their direct research and teaching. People who are underrepresented may also be over-asked because many editors and publishers are seeking to improve diversity. (The Scholarly Kitchen recently discussed this ‘diversity tax.’) This can create a perfect storm of additional burden.

Despite this concern, I think it is far better to be aware of the issue, push for diversity, and give different groups of researchers opportunities to review, which they can then decline if they wish.

Picture of a white woman smiling with a grey and beige scarf, short dark blonde hair

Rebecca Furlong, Head of Reviewer Programmes, Taylor & Francis

Rebecca Furlong, Head of Reviewer Programmes, Taylor & Francis

Old fashioned typewriter with a piece of paper that reads "EQUALITY" in big bold capital letters.

Photo by Markus Winkler via Unsplash

Photo by Markus Winkler via Unsplash

Mural of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds

Photo by Miles Peacock via Unsplash

Photo by Miles Peacock via Unsplash

The word "bias" under a magnifying glass

A diversity of voices in peer review is important in balancing different biases and ensuring fair evaluation.

A diversity of voices in peer review is important in balancing different biases and ensuring fair evaluation.

Map of the world.

In 2021, editors for Taylor & Francis journals invited peer reviewers from 184 countries and territories.

In 2021, editors for Taylor & Francis journals invited peer reviewers from 184 countries and territories.

Leah Kinthaert: Can you share any examples where publishers are making attempts to increase the diversity of their peer reviewers?

Rebecca Furlong: The death of George Floyd and the social justice movement that followed has led to many editors and publishers re-examining their own biases, behaviors, and practices in diversity and inclusion. For example, the Nature journals have made a public diversity commitment which includes increasing diversity in peer review.

Another example is from Cell, whose in-house editorial team pledged to improve their reviewer pool, starting with gender balance, and after two years were able to say that they had met their goal of 33% of reviewers identifying as women. Note that they were able to measure this because they asked reviewers to self-identify their gender, which most journals do not do.

A diversity of voices in peer review is important in balancing different biases and ensuring fair evaluation

Rebecca Furlong, Reviewer Programmes Manager, Taylor & Francis

Leah Kinthaert: Can you share any of the work you are doing with editors to increase the diversity of peer reviewers at Taylor & Francis?

Rebecca Furlong: At Taylor & Francis, the majority of peer review invites are sent out by academic editors. Our training videos for editors about peer review discuss the importance of diversity. We also offer in-depth training on peer review, on which we have had great feedback from researchers from emerging regions.

Peer review is generally confidential and, as a publisher, we think it is important to ensure that researchers can easily gain evidence of their participation. We have several different options for acknowledgement at Taylor & Francis, such as linking with publons, providing reviewer certificates, and publication of articles thanking peer reviewers. We have had a great deal of input from researchers saying that this is important to them, so this is something we are taking very seriously.

One area of debate is how peer review models can help or hinder diversity efforts. Peer review is often carried out on a single-anonymous model, where the reviewers’ identities are confidential but they know who the authors are. Double-anonymous review, where both parties are anonymous throughout the peer review process, has been suggested as a way of improving diversity, since the reviewers cannot be influenced by any aspect of the authors’ identity that might be gleaned or assumed from their name. Alternatively, open peer review surfaces all information about the peer review process for scrutiny by readers and improving accountability (although in many types of OPR, biases may still be buried in the unpublished literature).

Check out more resources for editors and authors on diversity in peer review.

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Sustainability

Discover the research we publish on sustainability and climate change through blog articles, journals and books, and collections, plus find out how we’re becoming a more sustainable, positive impact business.

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Sustainability

Explore our sustainability research and find out how we’re becoming a more sustainable business

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The outsized carbon footprints of the super rich

by Beatriz Barros and Richard Wilk in Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy

Some people and groups have much larger carbon footprints than others. This brief looks at what effect “super-emitters” have on the everyday behavior of average citizens.

Bottom half of person wearing red gingham trousers and holding vintage leather bag

18 November 2021

Sustainable fashion social media influencers and content creation calibration

by Jenna Jacobson and Brooke Harrison in International Journal of Advertising

Social media influencers have become an essential part of marketing agencies’ strategies. This study highlights the future challenges for advertisers and influencers when linking sustainability to entrepreneurship in influencer marketing.

Cyclists and a tram in Amsterdam

19 December 2021

Assessing the rapidly emerging landscape of net zero targets

by Thomas Hale et al. in Climate Policy

This study reviews the climate strategies of more than 4,000 countries, states, regions, cities, and companies. It highlights how targets and related commitments shoudl be strengthened to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Meet the editor

Meet Amar Abderrahmani, Editor-in-Chief, All Life

Professor Amar Abderrahmani is Editor-in-Chief of the All Life journal.

In this interview, Amar highlights the current challenges affecting the research community and explains why he believes multi-disciplinary open access research is key to driving progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more…