A new strategy to improve global access to information about plant genetic resources and the benefits they offer has been issued by DivSeek International Network (DivSeek), a global network committed to unlocking the potential of crop biodiversity so that it can be used to enhance the productivity, sustainability and resilience of crops and agricultural systems.
The ability to briefly describe your research and its wider impact is a valuable skill. Whether for a poster presentation, conference talk or job application – being able to engage and interest people in your research with few words (and little time) is important. We therefore want to challenge you to put your communication skills to the test by entering #plantscistories for a chance to win a prizes.
The results of the Peoples’ Climate Vote, the world’s biggest ever survey of public opinion on climate change are published in January. Covering 50 countries with over half of the world’s population, the survey includes over half a million people under the age of 18, a key constituency on climate change that is typically unable to vote yet in regular elections.
Detailed results broken down by age, gender, and education level will be shared with governments around the world by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which organized the innovative poll with the University of Oxford. In many participating countries, it is the first time that large-scale polling of public opinion has ever been conducted on the topic of climate change. 2021 is a pivotal year for countries’ climate action commitments, with a key round of negotiations set to take place at the UN Climate Summit in November in Glasgow, UK.
In the survey, respondents were asked if climate change was a global emergency and whether they supported eighteen key climate policies across six action areas: economy, energy, transport, food & farms, nature and protecting people.
Results show that people often want broad climate policies beyond the current state of play. For example, in eight of the ten survey countries with the highest emissions from the power sector, majorities backed more renewable energy. In four out of the five countries with the highest emissions from land-use change and enough data on policy preferences, there was majority support for conserving forests and land. Nine out of ten of the countries with the most urbanized populations backed more use of clean electric cars and buses, or bicycles.
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said: “The results of the survey clearly illustrate that urgent climate action has broad support amongst people around the globe, across nationalities, age, gender and education level. But more than that, the poll reveals how people want their policymakers to tackle the crisis. From climate-friendly farming to protecting nature and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate. It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge.”
The innovative survey was distributed across mobile gaming networks in order to include hard-to-reach audiences in traditional polling, like youth under the age of 18. Polling experts at the University of Oxford weighted the huge sample to make it representative of the age, gender, and education population profiles of the countries in the survey, resulting in small margins of error of +/- 2%.
Policies had wide-ranging support, with the most popular being conserving forests and land (54% public support), more solar, wind and renewable power (53%), adopting climate-friendly farming techniques (52%) and investing more in green businesses and jobs (50%).
Prof. Stephen Fisher, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, said: “The survey – the biggest ever survey of public opinion on climate change – has shown us that mobile gaming networks can not only reach a lot of people, they can engage different kinds of people in a diverse group of countries. The Peoples’ Climate Vote has delivered a treasure trove of data on public opinion that we’ve never seen before. Recognition of the climate emergency is much more widespread than previously thought. We’ve also found that most people clearly want a strong and wide-raging policy response.”
The survey shows a direct link between a person’s level of education and their desire for climate action. There was very high recognition of the climate emergency among those who had attended university or college in all countries, from lower-income countries such as Bhutan (82%) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (82%), to wealthy countries like France (87%) and Japan (82%).
The percentage of a population estimated to support a particular policy does not indicate that those who did not are against the same policy, since not endorsing a policy could also be due to indifference to it. The country results present what people think who are physically in a particular country. They are not representative of what nationals of a particular country think. So for example, they are representative not of what French people think, but of people in France.
Read the report: United Nations Development Programme
Image credit: UNDP
We are in the middle of a pandemic, but the experience is different for everyone. This was expressed beautifully in an original tweet by Damian Barr, later expanded by another author into a poem. “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”
Researchers call for a coalition of biotech industry, government and non-government organizations, trade organizations, and academic experts to work together to provide basic information about gene-edited crops to lift the veil on how plants or plant products are modified and provide greater transparency on the presence and use of gene editing in food supplies.
Many plant scientists rely on open access to information such as DNA sequence data to do their work. They are probably also aware of obligations to respect access and benefit sharing (ABS) rights under the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (The Treaty) and maybe the Nagoya Protocols on Access and Benefit Sharing. These arrangements have long been understood to cover the actual biological material (the plant) but international moves to extend these agreements to include associated data such as digital DNA sequence information (DSI) may impact more directly on the activities of plant scientists (Marden, 2018).
We received 15 brilliant entries and although some of them were submitted a (tiny) bit late, all were accepted for consideration in the competition. We decided to allow some flexibility given the current global situation (pandemic, lockdowns, and levels of quarantines). After carefully considering all of the entries, we are delighted to announce the following winners.
The winner in the ‘SciComm’ category is Gabriela Doria (@gabidoria), a Colombian botanist and paleobotanist interested in the evolution and diversification of plants at different time scales. Gabriela’s clear video effectively communicates how she uses morphological, molecular, and ecological approaches to address questions on flower development, pollination biology, systematic affinities of fossil plants, and phenotypic variation of living and fossil plants in response to environmental changes. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Plant Sciences at Cambridge University (UK).
Category: Plant Health
The winner in the ‘Plant Health’ category is Ilaria Martino (@_chapeau13_), an Italian PhD Student at Agroinnova (Torino, Italy), where she is working on developing a plant pathogen isolation method. Her video was creatively shot and very well put together, with the researcher as the main focus while the different stages of the plant pathogen isolation and determination method were portrayed. Excellent!
In addition to the board of directors of The Global Plant Council, which acted as the judging panel, the editorial and communications team at Plants, People, Planet were also impressed by the quality of the videos submitted to the competition, and the breadth of research communicated. You can watch more of the submissions in the playlist below. What is clear from these videos is the variety of ways in which plant science is of great importance for the wellbeing of people, and the planet that we call home. We were very pleased to see the creativity employed in communicating these concepts. Congratulations to the winners, Gabriela and Ilaria, and very well done to all of the entrants.
About Plants, People, Planet
Plants, People, Planet is an Open Access journal that aims to promote outstanding plant-based research in its broadest sense and to celebrate everything new, innovative, and exciting in plant sciences that is relevant to society and people’s daily lives. The journal is owned by the New Phytologist Trust, a not-for-profit organisation focused on the promotion and advancement of plant science. Find out more.
About The Global Plant Council
The Global Plant Council is a coalition of 28 national, regional, and international organizations representing plant, crop, agricultural, and environmental sciences across the globe. GPC aim is to promote plant science across borders & disciplines, supporting those involved in research, education, and training, and to increase awareness of plant research in science and society. Find out more.
Want to know more about using Twitter for scicomm? PCST member Ki-Youn Kim, Community Development Coordinator at the Chemical Institute of Canada, has created this useful infographic.
A common stereotype of Twitter is that it’s trivial and ephemeral. It’s certainly ephemeral, but it doesn’t have to be trivial if you’re interested in science. If you have a focus on a particular topic, Twitter is an opportunity to get regular updates on news, papers and opportunities like jobs on a rapid basis.