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Indeed, there is a lot of climate research being conducted in the Netherlands, but not all the necessary research is being carried out. Moreover, most of the research that is being done focuses on specific subfields and solutions.

The climate issue is broad and complex. On one hand, it requires specialized knowledge in many areas, but on the other hand, it also requires integrated knowledge about the interactions between different sectors and issues. This integrated knowledge often does not reach society, where people work who really need to address these system transitions. The consolidation of forces within science and between science and society is therefore essential due to the required speed.

The innovation of KIN lies in the coherence of the three tracks and innovative methods to organize science: to achieve the ambitions of KIN, science itself must change. We, as scientists, must collaborate better with each other, with application, practice, policy, and citizens to achieve ‘missions’.

Many of the innovations mentioned in KIN are already happening on a small scale, but they are fragmented. What is missing is national leadership and the structural use of such innovative methods. Everyone is now working on a piece of the climate problem, but the coherence is often missing, while integrated solutions are needed.

Without targeted investment in integrated knowledge, we will not make progress in the complex system transitions needed for a climate-neutral, sustainable society by 2050. This is already evident, as the design of the living environment and mobility have consequences for issues such as nitrogen and biodiversity and have never really been viewed in conjunction. For this, we need not only more but also a different kind of knowledge.

For KIN, the focus is on climate change, not the nitrogen crisis. However, both crises have partly the same causes, so solving one can also contribute to solving the other crisis. KIN will, however, investigate whether solutions to the climate problem (have no negative or even a positive) influence on other societal problems, and look for win-win solutions, i.e., solutions that have broad positive societal effects (such as positive impacts on SDGs in a broad sense).

Of course, it is not that there is no collaboration at all. On the contrary, there is a lot of collaboration, but climate-focused research in the Netherlands is nevertheless fragmented and not mission-driven. Funding goes through competitive calls, which does not necessarily stimulate collaboration. There is competition for subsidies, often involving small-scale projects with limited budgets. Most research is done on specific subfields and solutions.

The climate issue is broad and complex. On one hand, it requires specialized knowledge in many areas, but on the other hand, it also requires integrated knowledge about the interactions between different sectors and issues. This knowledge is hardly available.

Think global, act local.

You have to start somewhere; we cannot afford to lobby for years until a European or global KIN is established. We need to set an example now to get others on board with this approach.

Of course, we will also definitely collaborate with other countries/global initiatives. In addition, there is also an urgent need for knowledge on how to realize the transition in the Netherlands, taking into account specific contexts/features. Furthermore, a significant international component is foreseen in the KIN program, which aims to collaborate with developing countries to build the capacity needed to tackle climate change locally. These countries are often even more affected by climate change than the Netherlands.

In many countries, initiatives are currently being taken to address climate change. These range from national research centers to interdisciplinary networks and from organizations focused on research to organizations providing advice to the government. You can see that different countries are choosing forms that fit the character or size of the country and the existing institutions.

According to the task force’s conclusion, this form of pooling resources is most necessary in the Netherlands. None of the other initiatives abroad are as comprehensive as KIN. KIN is unique due to the combination of the three tracks: program, pact, and center. Nevertheless, when taking the next steps to further shape KIN, we also want to identify and incorporate best practices from international examples.

No, it is about the future of our country. Without a solid foundation of integrated and transdisciplinary (=involving parties outside of science from the beginning) knowledge, it will be extremely difficult to implement climate policy and achieve climate goals. This certainly applies to the medium and longer term, as it all involves fundamental system transitions.

Moreover, the intention of KIN is explicitly not to replace existing research from current budgets but to make the research more serviceable to society and to tap into new resources for this purpose.

Where the money should come from is a valid question. Currently, NWO has provided a budget for the first year for the establishment of KIN and to conduct the initial research. Additionally, we are in discussions with the responsible ministries to obtain more budget for the longer term. The report on KIN details the estimated costs for the long term.

Given the importance of the topic and the future of the country, we trust that we will find a solution for this. And what about the damage and costs that our country will incur if we do not work towards a climate-neutral society? It involves relatively small amounts for a major societal problem.