Our Common Future Under Climate Change

International Scientific Conference 7-10 JULY 2015 Paris, France




  • Building on the findings of IPCC AR5 (5th assessment report), the scientific conference “Our common future under climate change”, held in Paris in July 2015, presented updated knowledge and addressed key issues concerning climate change in the broader context of global change.

  • The main objective of COP 21 that will take place in Paris in December 2015 is to produce a cooperation framework for a steady increase of individual and collective ambition of governments who will have presented their contributions early in 2015. The new climate governance regime is supposed to strengthen confidence, support implementation, maximize benefits of international cooperation, and bring all stakeholders to the realization that a new development model (low carbon, resilient) is actually emerging.

  • For science, the question has progressively shifted from consolidating the scientific basis for assessing risks and options for action, to defining the form that action has to take in order to engage in a necessary transition to low-carbon and adapted economies and societies. For stakeholders, the question has shifted from reasons for action to the form action has to take.

  • The scientific community, in partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, plays a major role for shaping our future under climate change, by identifying potential sustainable futures and innovations at different spatial and time scales, by designing and assessing relevant and coherent solutions, policies and measures, and therefore increasing the credibility of the Paris agreement.

  • The conference was a major opportunity for scientists, stakeholders and the larger public, to take stock of existing knowledge, explore and identify innovative solutions, discuss them, and prepare for an ambitious post 2015 climate governance regime.


The International Scientific Conference “Our Common Future under Climate Change” took place at UNESCO and UPMC (Paris) in July 2015.

This four-day conference was the largest forum for the scientific community to come together ahead of the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21), which will be hosted by France in December 2015 (“Paris Climat 2015”). Building on the results of IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5), the Conference addressed key issues concerning climate change in the broader context of global change. It offered an opportunity to discuss solutions for both mitigation and adaptation issues. The Conference also welcomed Side Events organized by different stakeholders.

The conference was organized under the umbrella of ICSU, Future Earth, UNESCO and major French research institutions, with the support of the French Government.

The Conference had four overarching objectives:
1 - Provide state-of-the-art scientific knowledge on climate change, one year after the release of IPCC AR5: physical basis of climate change, impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, mitigation, storylines and scenarios. Special emphasis was placed on explaining, translating and disseminating the key results of IPCC AR5 and major developments thereafter. This Conference offered the opportunity to progress in our understanding of the multiple interactions between climate change, the geosphere, the biosphere and human societies, at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Special attention was given to trans-disciplinary research and to emerging concepts.
3 - Assess the potential for evidence-based solutions to climate change challenges. Scientific evidence was assessed to explore a large array of potential technological, social and institutional solutions to some of the challenges created by climate change. Potential solutions were discussed in connection with the broader challenges of sustainable development, environmental conservation, equity, and cultural diversity.
2 - Explore a wide range of pathways combining climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable development. Building on forecasts, storylines and scenarios, the Conference discussed uncertainties; identified areas of consensus, and mapped controversies while taking stock of the multiple connections to development and environmental challenges within a large diversity of local, national and regional contexts.
4 - Contribute to a science-society dialogue. En route to COP21, the Conference offered all interested parties (negotiators, policy-makers, businesses, NGOs, public at large) an up-to-date panorama of the insights that science can provide on climate change and how to tackle it. With the post-2015 agenda in sight, the Conference also offered a venue for scientists, policy-makers, businesses and NGOs to debate the research agenda for the coming years (both via the conference itself and side events organized by stakeholders).

Through Plenaries and Parallel Sessions, all major issues were explored through overarching daily themes, moving from present knowledge to future solutions.

A large emphasis was placed on exploring climate change issues through transdisciplinary and integrative approaches, underscoring the need for solutions that cut across sectors and systems and that join stakeholders and communities. The Conference sessions encouraged multi-disciplinary and multi-lateral thinking to explore the wide range of topics that cut across climate change issues, from physical feedbacks to social and economic impacts. The Conference sessions offered a broad base for examining a multitude of issues covering the complex and inter-related science-human aspects of climate change.

The Conference was organized around the following daily themes:


  • Day 1: State of Knowledge on Climate Change: Bringing together the latest knowledge from both natural and social sciences, this day addressed the cross-cutting issues related to observed changes in the climate system. It explored drivers and impacts, including GHG emissions, climate variability, extreme events, and physical-ecological-social interactions, connecting both advances and gaps in knowledge across sectors and regions.

  • Day 2: Landscapes of Our Common Future: Looking at future scenarios in the context of the climate change, this day explored possible impacts across and between systems and sectors both in the medium (2030-2050) and long term (2070 and beyond). Contrasted scenarios were investigated as well as their consequences on the interactions between physical, ecological and human systems. An emphasis was placed on examining risks and uncertainties, thresholds and tipping points.

  • Day 3: Responding to Climate Change Challenges: This day addressed mitigation and adaptation options, highlighting scientific and technological breakthroughs and discussing barriers, trade-offs, co-benefits, risks and feedbacks. It explored local and regional responses, and discussed pathways for integration across sectors and stakeholders, emphasizing the need for bottom-up approaches that were explored through the examples of local and regional case studies.

  • Day 4: Collective Action and Transformative Solutions: This final day of the conference explored transformative solutions to climate change from a cross-sectoral perspective in order to reach integrated solutions especially through collaboration. This included solutions across a range of disciplines, sectors and stakeholders that encompass technological, institutional, economic and behavioural changes that led to transformative pathways to climate change challenges, from the near to long term, and at multiple scales.