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Much climate research is being done in the Netherlands, but not all the research that is needed is being carried out. Moreover, by far most of the research being done is in sub-areas and solutions.

The climate issue is broad and complex. You need a lot of specialist knowledge in a lot of fields on the one hand, but also integral knowledge, knowledge about the interactions between different sectors and issues. If that knowledge is already there, it hardly reaches society, where the people who really need to work on these system transitions are working. This joining of forces within science, and between science and society, is indispensable because of the speed required.

The innovation of the KIN lies in the coherence of the three tracks and innovative methods of organising science: to realise the ambitions of the KIN, science itself has to change. We as scientists need to work better with each other, application, practice, policy and citizens to realise ‘missions’

Many of the innovations identified in the KIN are already happening on a small scale, but it is fragmented. What is missing is national direction and the structural deployment of such innovative methods. Everyone is now working on part of the climate problem, but coherence is hard to find, while integrated solutions are needed.

Without targeted investment in integrated knowledge, we will not make any progress in the complex system transitions required for a climate-neutral, sustainable society in 2050. In fact, you can already see this now, because habitat design and mobility have consequences for nitrogen and biodiversity, among other things, and have never really been considered in conjunction. For that, you not only need more, but especially a different kind of knowledge.

For the KIN, the focus is climate change, not the nitrogen crisis. But both crises have partly the same causes, so solving one can also help solve the other. The KIN will do consider whether solutions to the climate problem have (no negative or even a positive) impact on other societal problems, and look for win-win solutions, or solutions that have broad positive societal impacts (such as positive impacts on SDGs in a broad sense).

Of course, it is not the case that there is no collaboration at all. On the contrary, there is a lot of collaboration, but climate-oriented research in the Netherlands is nevertheless fragmented, and not mission-driven. Funding is through competitive calls, which does not naturally encourage collaboration. There is competition for grants, often involving small-scale projects with small budgets. Most research is done in sub-areas and solutions.

The climate issue is broad and complex. On the one hand, you need a lot of specialist knowledge in a lot of fields, but on the other hand you also need integral knowledge, knowledge about the interactions between different sectors and issues. That knowledge is hardly there.

Think global, act local.

You have to start somewhere; we cannot afford to lobby for years until a European or global KIN gets off the ground. We have to set an example now to get the rest to go along with this approach.

Of course, we will also definitely cooperate with other countries/global. There is also an urgent need for knowledge on how to realise the transition in the Netherlands, taking into account specific context/characteristics. Moreover, a significant international component is foreseen in the KIN programme, aimed at cooperating with developing countries to also build the capacity needed locally to cope with climate change. Indeed, these countries are often even more severely affected by climate change than the Netherlands.

Many countries are currently considering ways to cope with climate change. Initiatives are being taken, ranging from national research centres to cross-discipline networks and from organisations focused on research to organisations focused on advising government. You can see that different countries choose forms that suit the character or size of the country and the institutions already in place.

In the Netherlands, the task force concludes, this form of joining forces is most necessary. None of the other initiatives abroad is as comprehensive as KIN. KIN is unique because of the combination of the three tracks: programme, pact and centre. Nonetheless, in the follow-up steps to further shape the KIN, we also want to identify best practices from international examples and include them.

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

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

Where the money should come from is a legitimate question. At the moment, NWO has provided a budget for the first year to set up the KIN and do the initial research. We are also in talks with the responsible ministries to get more budget for the longer term. The report on the KIN shows how much it will cost in the longer term.

Given the importance of the issue and the future of the country, we are confident that we will find a solution to this. And what of the damage and costs we will face as a country if we do not move towards a climate-neutral society. We are talking about relatively small amounts for a big social problem.