A scientist’s opinion: Interview with Cliona Howie Del Rio about systems thinking

The European Science-Media Hub recently published an interview with Cliona Howie Del Rio, Head of Circular Economy at Climate-KIC and coordinator of CICERONE.

 

We are living in a society full of uncertainty at the moment. What are the most urgent issues that need to be solved from your perspective?

Cliona Howie ESMH Scientist“The most urgent issue that needs to be solved at the moment is, of course, a health pandemic. But what’s interesting with COVID-19 is that one can draw a lot of parallels and similarities between this crisis on one hand, and the climate crisis on the other. In reality, these two have more direct links than just being similar. Both, for instance, stemmed from unnatural impacts on the natural world.

In order to move forward, we need to ask what we can learn from COVID-19 to get a bigger picture. One of our lessons from COVID-19 is that behavioural change at all levels can happen. During COVID-19, limited access to specific materials and tools have urged policy changes under immense time pressure. Because of the policy change, our day-to-day decisions, for instance whether to go to the store or not, also needed to change. If we do not take the opportunity to learn from this experience, we won’t be able to address climate change, which is actually the bigger world crisis that our world is facing today.”

How do you think the world will need to change after Covid-19? What approaches and solutions do we need in order to tackle the climate challenge?

“While our behavioural change to travel less and switch to online meetings seems to have some impacts in solving climate issues, it is simply not enough. What we really need is a ‘bold policy change’ to result in behavioural change. Unfortunately, given the urgency of the situation, we don’t have enough time and rely on the goodwill of people to voluntarily change their habits. As seen in the case of COVID-19, a bold policy change mobilises people to adapt and adjust in phases. If a similar approach is taken to regulate our industries and CO2 emissions, it will have impacts on the way we use energy and the way we travel. But making a radical policy change in the energy sector overnight is unrealistic. Policy change with a phased approach in an urgent, but adjustable way is needed to tackle climate challenges.

To meet the climate target in the years to come, we need more public-private collaboration and innovative partnerships where business and government come together in the ways we have never seen before. From behavioural to policy change and everything in between, we need substantial and effective collaboration.”

Can you tell us more about CICERONE and how it addresses climate issues?

“Circular economy is identified as one of the best ways to tackle climate change because of its systemic approach to transformation. It’s about looking across an entire social economic model from education to financial systems, from innovation to behavioral change. It is a paradigm that will help us build a resilient and sustainable future.

Yet, we have a very fragmented approach to the way circular economy is being financed in Europe. While regional and national governments have funding programmes to encourage circular transition, there is no benchmark of what is right or wrong. This has led us to ask, “Can we have a coordinated approach across Europe to identify, prioritise, and efficiently fund circular economy?” This is what CICERONE is aiming to achieve.

While having a uniform approach across Europe may be difficult, we need to break down the silos and make cross-boundary shifts. CICERONE not only coordinates the efforts through a Strategic Agenda for Circular Economy Research & Innovation, but also provides a platform for programme owners to connect and learn from one another and share experiences and best practices. It also opens up the opportunity for joint programming where neighbouring regions can collaborate and accelerate the transition.”

From your perspective, what role do journalists and science communicators play in making a systems change?

“I believe the role media plays is crucial because people depend on it in so many ways, even ways that they don’t even realise. Media infiltrates you based on what you read and what you hear. It has the power to change human behaviour and public opinion, which would then have an impact on policy making. The role of the media in helping tackle the climate crisis and being a trusted source of information is one of the most important things we’ll need to have if we’re going to tackle this crisis.

I think that there is a duty and responsibility for those of us who work on circular transition to appreciate and understand the need to communicate better and work with the media. We need to learn that it starts with people like us. I believe that collaboration is the key if we want to save the world, and we need to work better with journalists and communicators to make the change.”

 

This article first appeared on the European Science-Media Hub. The interview was conducted by Rina Tsubaki .

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 9: Reboot regional economies
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
A new air and climate plan for Milan

The City Council of Milan approved the Air and...

A new air and climate plan for Milan
In The News
Meet the three EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards

Three innovators from EIT Climate-KIC’s community have been nominated...

Meet the three EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards
In The News
100 European cities take up the challenge to become carbon neutral by 2030

On Monday 13 June, the representatives of the 100...

100 European cities take up the challenge to become carbon neutral by 2030
In The News
The role of cities and regions in transforming wood value chains

Climate smart forest economies It’s a crucial decade for...

The role of cities and regions in transforming wood value chains
In The News
Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate acti...

Scotland’s largest city region is actively tackling climate change...

Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate action
In The News
Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe

EIT Climate-KIC and Built by Nature, announce an initiative...

Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme

EIT Climate-KIC is launching Circularity Thinking courses to tackle...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster

EIT Climate-KIC selected four cleantech start-ups to be part...

EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster
In The News
Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage

Climate change is going to get worse, but curbing global warming is...

Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage
In The News
EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners

Supported by the EIT Community, the New European Bauhaus...

EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate clima...

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of...

EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate climate innovation in the agri-food sector
In The News
Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambit...

Climate Lab in Vienna will give climate actors an...

Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambitions
In The News
Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report

On 28 February, the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)...

Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report
In The News
EIT launches new Global Outreach website

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

EIT launches new Global Outreach website
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups

Working on transformative, systemic innovation to accelerate a net-zero...

EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups
In The News
Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Awar...

Do you want to support innovative solutions that integrate...

Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Award
In The News
Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storag...

Brill Power, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has launched the...

Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storage capacity
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop delivered a talk,...

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk
In The News
Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek mar...

To tackle complex climate challenges, we need a broader...

Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek maritime sector
In The News
EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Instit...

Unlocking the potential of higher education institutions for innovation...

EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Institutions
In The News
Dolomites forging climate resilience

The Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are...

Dolomites forging climate resilience
In The News
People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan

The region’s climate action plan has been announced, with...

People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan
In The News
Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable co...

The built environment accounts for close to 40 per...

Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable construction in cities
In The News
The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate in...

Glasgow, 8 November – The California Governor’s Office of...

The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate innovation
In The News
COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global I...

A new digital Global Innovation Hub has been launched at...

COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global Innovation Hub
In The News
ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners

EIT Climate-KIC’s ClimateLaunchpad – the world’s largest green business...

ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners
In The News
EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended

EIT Climate-KIC has launched a call for ideas on...

EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended
In The News
Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures
In The News
Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change...

Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience
In The News
Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability

Gipuzkoa, the smallest Spanish province located in the Basque...

Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability