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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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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Author notes

    • Malgorzata Blicharska
    •  & Richard J. Smithers

    These authors contributed equally to this work


  1. Natural Resources and Sustainable Development, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala 75236, Sweden

    • Malgorzata Blicharska
    •  & Magdalena Kuchler
  2. Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

    • Malgorzata Blicharska
  3. Ricardo Energy & Environment, Harwell, Didcot, UK

    • Richard J. Smithers
  4. GRADE (Global Research Arch for Developing Education) Academy, Pvt. Ltd, Birguni, Nepal

    • Ganesh K. Agrawal
  5. Universidad de Costa Rica, Instituto Clodomiro Picado, Facultad de Microbiología, San José, Costa Rica

    • José M. Gutiérrez
  6. Kenyatta University, Department of Chemistry, Nairobi, Kenya

    • Ahmed Hassanali
  7. International Centre for Climate Change & Development, Independent University, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh

    • Saleemul Huq
  8. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Department of Psychology, Porto Alegre, Brazil

    • Silvia H. Koller
  9. Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, Calcutta, India

    • Sugata Marjit
  10. Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

    • Hassan M. Mshinda
  11. University of Malaya, Faculty of Engineering, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    • Hj Hassan Masjuki
  12. Center for Studies of Sensory Impairment, Aging and Metabolism, Guatemala City, 01011, Guatemala

    • Noel W. Solomons
  13. Research Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

    • Johannes Van Staden
  14. School for Forest Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skinnskatteberg 73921, Sweden

    • Grzegorz Mikusiński


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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.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Grzegorz Mikusiński.

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

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