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Shaping how society tackles Climate Change

By Sophie Vinter, on 23 February 2016

Professor Chris Rapley speaking at Chile's Congreso del FuturoA UCL professor held the floor in front of more than 100 international thought leaders, including Nobel Prize winners, during a major scientific congress in Chile.

Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at the Department of Earth Sciences, was among expert influencers presenting to delegates and the public at the Congreso del Futuro in Santiago in January.

The unique congress is one of the biggest scientific and technological events in Latin America, helping to shape progress of how societies adjust to global challenges.

UCL’s representation builds on strong developing partnerships with Chile, one of our priority countries for institutional engagement in the region.

Professor Rapley delivered five presentations over the course of the event, with topics covering the communication of climate change and society’s ability to adapt to climate-related impacts ahead.

His talks were streamed live and covered widely in the media.

Developing a public dialogue

The Chilean constitution is being rewritten and Professor Rapley has agreed to work with Chilean environmental lawyers to develop public dialogue aimed at its including specific reference to climate change and sustainability. Professor Joanne Scott from the UCL Laws faculty has agreed to be involved with the participation of some Chilean students.

Iceberg in Chilean AntarcticaThe vast landscapes of the Antarctic and Torres del Paine National Park provided the backdrop to thought-provoking discussion ahead of the congress, which was the brainchild of Chilean Physician and Politician, Senator Guido Girardi.

Professor Rapley said: “On the one hand the economy in Chile has soared compared with its neighbours, but on the other it is suffering the ills of the free market such as extremes of inequity, weak social functions in health and education, and environmental damage. Many Chileans are saying ‘we need to try something else.’ The idea of the congress is to bring together world-leading thinkers to address these issues.

“It was certainly one of the most intellectually stimulating and interesting events that I can recall being part of. The knowledge, insights and experience represented within the body of participants were truly stellar. The trip to the Antarctic and to Torres del Paine was an extraordinary ‘bonding’ opportunity, as well as being a logistical feat of brilliance, and a stunning visual experience.

“As a result of my presentations I have established numerous strong contacts and was asked by the Senator to continue to help him with his mission in the future.”

Professor Chris Rapley and other speakers at Congreso del Futuro in Chile

Strengthening collaborations

UCL enjoys a broad range of collaborations with Chilean institutions, ranging from mining and disaster management to crime science and beyond.

Last year the university hosted visits from Chile’s Minister for Finance and its Minister for Mining.

During a reciprocal visit in December 2015, UCL academics engaged with a number of leading Chilean universities and the Mining Ministry, leading to deeper understanding and broadening of their collaborations.