Why universities play an essential role in future climate resilience

19 October 2022
Climate Connect Aotearoa

Climate Connect Aotearoa formed an agreement with both Auckland University of Technology and the University of Auckland to collaborate on research, teaching and industry partnerships.

Programme director Sarah Anderson says it was critical to get academic institutions’ backing and being part of the innovation hub.

“We’re so thrilled that both institutions came on board early in the formation of Climate Connect Aotearoa. The issues caused by climate change can only be solved as a collective. We need all sectors of society in the room, including academia which provides essential research, new thinking and analysis – and also the future talent we need to meet the challenge of climate change,” says Sarah.

The agreements set out a range of commitments (see below) but an important first contribution was seeking advice about the formation of Climate Connect Aotearoa from Dr David Hall, from AUT, and Analeise Murahidy, from Auckland UniServices, the University of Auckland's research and knowledge transfer company.

In addition to his teaching duties David is the Founding Director of the Climate Innovation Lab, Principal Investigator for AUT’s Living Laboratories Programme of nature-based solutions, a contributor to reports by the Ministry for the Environment and Aotearoa Circle, a frequent media spokesperson and father of two young children.

“The task is huge. Climate change is cumulative. The longer we leave it the worse it becomes,” - says David when asked why Climate Connect Aotearoa is important enough to squeeze into that busy schedule. “And it affects everyone - we need everyone involved. So, a project like this, that accelerates action through collaboration, is the right way to go."

There’s an opportunity here. We’re at the start of a huge transition from one type of economy to another. We want everyone to benefit from that transition.

Analiese Murahidy, Director of Business Development at Auckland UniServices says that climate innovation is critical because the complexity of the problems need to have that diverse inputs.

“How do we look at some of these challenges from different disciplines and how can we align the university as a purpose-driven and values-driven organisation? Research doesn't happen in isolation. So how do we deliver research that has an impact and delivers outcomes that we need?”

“We think Climate Connect Aotearoa is very much trying to define that and mobilise around it. It's where the university wants to be - helping deliver those solutions.”

What’s been agreed

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) specifies that three parties will collaborate on projects that support climate change mitigation and adaptation in four thematic areas: energy, transport, the built environment and food.

It includes:

  • collaborating on establishment and growth of a nationally leading climate innovation hub that will contribute to the goals set in Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland's Climate Plan;
  • collaborating on the identification of demand-led priorities for climate action;
  • identifying solutions and relevant research, including opportunities;
  • contribute and share research and learning across the sectors and communities;
  • collaborating on funding bids and align post-graduate work programmes to climate challenges;
  • collaborating on developing potential partnerships with industry to support climate change mitigation and adaption in the four thematic areas of energy, transport, the built environment and food;
  • advising on initiatives of Climate Connect Aotearoa that will encourage green growth and drive green investment for Auckland; and
  • identifying training opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students aligned with the Climate Connect Aotearoa priorities.


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