Opening up climate and biodiversity research
EIFL, Creative Commons and SPARC will be creating a campaign to increase open access to research on climate science and biodiversity

You are here

Image representing open science - a glass beaker superimposed on a green (for climate) O.
Open Science. Image by Greg Emmerich. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Iryna Kuchma, EIFL Open Access Programme Manager, introduces and discusses a new project that will promote open access to climate and biodiversity research.

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference, officially known as the 26th Conference of Parties, or COP26, continues in Glasgow, Scotland, we are pleased to share some good news. The Open Society Foundations approved funding for EIFL, Creative Commons and SPARC to lead a global campaign promoting open access to climate and biodiversity research. This is a promising new strategy to encourage governments, foundations, institutes and environmental organizations to use ‘open’ to accelerate progress towards solving the climate crisis and to preserve global biodiversity. 

Catherine Stihler, Creative Commons’ CEO, publicly announced the campaign during her keynote at the University of St Andrews’ Power to the people event and will have the opportunity to announce the campaign at a COP26 fringe event – Open UK: Open Technology for Sustainability – on 11 November. 

We’re happy to have the opportunity to work closely with our longtime allies in the open access movement to ensure that this effort is truly a global campaign, and hope that this initiative will help to provide a blueprint for future funding of similar collaborative campaigns.


Climate change, and the resulting harm to our global biodiversity, is one of the world's most pressing challenges. The complexity of the climate crisis requires collaborative global interventions that centre on equity and evidence-based mitigation practices informed by multidisciplinary research. Many researchers, governments, and global environmental organizations recognize the importance of the open sharing of research to accelerate progress, but lack cohesive strategies and mechanisms to facilitate effective knowledge sharing and collaboration across disciplinary and geographic borders. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the power of open access to democratize knowledge sharing, accelerate discovery, promote research collaboration, and bring together the efforts of global stakeholders to tackle the pandemic took centre stage. Scientists embraced the immediate, open sharing of preprints, research articles, data and code. This embrace of openness contributed to the rapid sequencing and sharing of the virus’ genome, the quick development of therapeutics, and the fastest development of effective vaccines in human history. The lessons learned during the pandemic can - and should - be applied to accelerate progress on other urgent problems facing society. 

Ahead of COP26, the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library released written submissions to their 2021 Open Science Conference in a publication titled, Open Science for Climate Action. The submissions centred on lessons learned on open science from tackling the COVID-19 pandemic which can be employed in climate action. I spoke at the conference, with Heather Joseph and Nick Shockey from SPARC, and our submissions are included in the document.  


The goal of the project is to create a truly global campaign to promote open access, open science and open data as effective enabling strategies to accelerate progress towards solving the climate crisis and preserving global biodiversity. It will develop effective messaging, strategies, and tactics to empower stakeholders currently leading critical climate and biodiversity work to embed open practices and policies in their operations, and make open sharing of research the default.  

We expect to identify the most important climate and biodiversity research publications not already OA, and coordinate a campaign to open those publications, remove legal and policy barriers to applying open licenses, and influence key funders (governments, foundations, and institutes) of climate science and biodiversity research to adopt and implement strong OA policies, and identify opportunities to open climate and biodiversity educational resources. We will encourage global environment organizations to adopt open licensing policies to ensure all their content is free to be reused, built upon and shared for the global public good, delivering on their SDG commitments. We will engage with researchers, universities and policy makers in the Global South to ensure inclusive outcomes throughout.