Zyaad Boodoo talks about international co-operation and his role as a Chapter Scientist in WG III’s contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

I’m a dedicated environmentalist with a passion for global and local climate change issues and ways of addressing them. I have a somewhat unusual background of both practice – through over 16 years of professional experience in environmental and climate change mitigation and adaptation policymaking – and academia, ranging from engineering, climate change management, and international development.

As a result, I am both a researcher with a climate-practice background and a practitioner with research skills in the field of low-carbon development. This particular combination allows me to quench my thirst towards undertaking a meaningful scientific career while contributing towards the production of evidence-based policymaking. I currently work for the Government of Mauritius in the environment sector. A sports enthusiast, I love swimming at sea and spend some days per week at the gym on spinning bikes.

What is your research background?

I have a background in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. After some professional experiences in policy-making and environmental legislation, I followed a Master of Sciences in Carbon Management from the University of Edinburgh in 2008/2009. Further working experiences on climate change issues in Mauritius were followed by a Ph.D. in “Low-Carbon Transitions through Donor Support” from the UNEP DTU Partnership, Technical University of Denmark. Within my Ph.D., I have made theoretical and empirical contributions to the literature on the challenges faced by donor organisations through their interventions in developing countries while attempting to sustain transformational change to low-carbon development. I have 16 years of practice in government and worked in policymaking and legislation for the environment.

What does a Chapter Scientist do?

I’m new to the Chapter Scientist role. We (chapter scientists) provide scientific and administrative support to the author teams. For example, we assess the overall themes that the Lead Authors and Coordinating Lead Authors develop and assist in the review of literature. Administratively, we assist in the write-up, the management of references, archiving of any grey literature that may be used, etc. It’s time-consuming and demanding, but our role is to assist the authors in any way we can towards the successful finalisation of our chapters.

How did you become a Chapter Scientist?

There was a call for volunteers on the web and I thought that it was really exciting given that I’m interested in the work of the IPCC. Indeed, an initiative whereby the most brilliant minds of the globe cooperate voluntarily to undertake a scientifically rigorous exercise in synthesising latest research on climate change is extremely laudable, as was evidenced with the Peace Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC. So, I applied to the Technical Support Unit for Working Group III of the IPCC and received support from my government: the Government of Mauritius (my host institution), as 1/3 of my job is now dedicated to the IPCC. It was quite efficient. It’s a great opportunity, especially for experts from different research backgrounds, developing countries, and small island developing states. I’m really glad to be working for the IPCC because, while there’s a lot of volunteer out of hours work, it’s really gratifying to contribute to an initiative that aims at encouraging meaningful change for the greater good of humanity.

Can you tell us about your Chapter’s focus on International Cooperation?

Yes! Our chapter reviews the literature pertinent to international cooperation published since the 5th Assessment report (2013/2014). Since the Paris Agreement was not yet a reality at that point in time, we will obviously cover that scholarship. Furthermore, given the number of conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – that is political declarations on climate change mitigation and adaptation pledges/targets set by countries – that are in the Paris Agreement, and as someone from a developing country background, I understand such a theme as an important part of our chapter

What’s the report writing process like, and why do you think it’s valuable?

This is my first experience at a Lead Author Meeting (LAM) and as a newbie I’m impressed. To observe and interact with 200 of the brightest minds in climate change research is inspiring. As the meeting has progressed, I’ve become more confident in what I’m contributing. To me, the important thing is that we produce a report that is both scientifically accurate and communicable to the public at large. There’s quite a rigorous process to follow in order to produce a credible report. We have different cutting-edge competences in the same room as we aim to reach an agreement on what is credible and what can be written on each topic. What I really like is that this scientific process will produce different outputs, depending on the chapter, but within a coherent narrative across chapters. The report itself will be significant, but there’s also going to be a Summary for Policymakers (SPM) with very clear messages for policymakers and the public. Large reports can be tough for some people to digest, so the SPM is a good communications tool. I have a sort of dual background in both research and policy, which I believe will help within such an important part of the report writing process.

There are authors from all over the world working on this report, but what does Climate Change look like in your home of Mauritius?

Empirical observations in Mauritius have shown a drastic increase in the number of flooding events, episodes of heatwaves and an increase in sea-level rise. The impacts of climate change are compounded with the rate of development. Given that developmental issues are, by their own nature, multidisciplinary and multisectoral, this shows how complex the climate change challenge is to address. For small islands like Mauritius, there’s a strong focus on adaptation since there’s a lot at stake, such as sea-level rise and flooding. That doesn’t mean mitigation isn’t attended to. In Mauritius, there are conditional NDCs that are aiming towards mitigation through resources the country has and supplemented with international support.