Steps to overcome the North–South divide in research relevant to climate change policy and practice


A global North–South divide in research, and its negative consequences, has been highlighted in various scientific disciplines. Northern domination of science relevant to climate change policy and practice, and limited research led by Southern researchers in Southern countries, may hinder further development and implementation of global climate change agreements and nationally appropriate actions. Despite efforts to address the North–South divide, progress has been slow. In this Perspective, we illustrate the extent of the divide, review underlying issues and analyse their consequences for climate change policy development and implementation. We propose a set of practical steps in both Northern and Southern countries that a wide range of actors should take at global, regional and national scales to span the North–South divide, with examples of some actions already being implemented.

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Figure 1: Affiliations of first authors of scientific papers published in 2000–2014 in relation to countries' economic status and by country.
Figure 2: Affiliations of authors of scientific articles about climate change in relation to countries' economic status.


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We would like to thank A. Engelmann and M. Stråhle from the SLU University Library for the help with the bibliographic analysis.

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M.B., R.J.S., G.M. initiated the study; G.M. conducted the analysis with help of M.B. and R.J.S.; M.B. and R.J.S. wrote the paper and contributed equally to this work. All other authors contributed to the text, and provided practical examples for inclusion in the article.

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Correspondence to Grzegorz Mikusiński.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Blicharska, M., Smithers, R., Kuchler, M. et al. Steps to overcome the North–South divide in research relevant to climate change policy and practice. Nature Clim Change 7, 21–27 (2017).

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