Centre for Applied Research on Social Sciences and Law

Climate Literacy

Reliable basic and tailored data on climate and climate change are crucial in order to take the right decisions in the climate transition. The Climate Literacy research group, a joint initiative from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), aims to develop new knowledge that can be used to enhance the ‘climate literacy’ of professionals, policy makers and citizens.

Climate change is one of the major problems of our time. It is vitally important that we take steps to combat further global warming. Yet the process of developing and implementing policies aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases tends to be difficult. A lack of support for climate-related measures, too little knowledge on climate issues and uncertainty regarding how to deal with a changing climate are all possible causes. How can we ensure that professionals are able to correctly interpret the data on climate change? And that they are then able to translate that information into clear messaging for the wider public?

What is climate literacy?

The goal of the research group is to promote climate literacy, particularly among professionals who work in a variety of sectors such as urban planning, the energy transition and health and well-being in the urban environment. A climate literate person:

  • is familiar with the major principles of the climate system;
  • knows how and where to find reliable scientific data and information about the climate;
  • can communicate effectively with colleagues, policy makers and citizens regarding climate and climate change;
  • is able to take well-informed decisions in connection with matters that are affected by climate or have an effect on climate.

Knowledge for the climate transition

Taking concrete issues from real-world practice as a starting point, the research is conducted based on two main questions:

  1. What climate-related information and data are needed, and in what form, in order to act climate-consciously and to take the right decisions in the context of the climate transition?
  2. How can climate information and data be presented in such a way as to promote correct interpretation, usability and greater climate literacy?

Building bridges

The Climate Literacy research group takes a multidisciplinary and practice-driven approach. It maintains ongoing cooperation with the AUAS research groups Water In and Around the City, Psychology for Sustainable Cities and Visual Methodologies, as well as with various businesses, civil society organisations and governmental organisations.

Professors in institutes

The research group is funded through the ‘Professors in Institutes’ (Lectorposities bij instituten, L.INT) scheme of the Taskforce for Applied Research SIA , an arrangement in which professors work at both a university of applied sciences and a research institute. Janette Bessembinder, for example, links research conducted by KNMI to the applied research at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences – a crucial step in converting knowledge into innovation.

9 March 2023

  dr. ir. J.J.E. Bessembinder (Jannette)

Professor of Climate Literacy

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