A workshop hosted by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)

Purpose of the workshop
The completion of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC provides a good opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and discuss options for future assessments of research on climate change policy. The workshop will explore how social-science research on climate change might be better assessed, with a view to making this research more accessible and useful to policy makers. Chatham House rules will apply.

Workshop objectives

  • Reflect on the recent experience of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), capturing those aspects of the process that have been effective and those that could be improved.
  • Consider the advantages and disadvantages of alternative climate-science assessment processes and what might be learned from assessments in other domains.
  • Consider how the results of social-science research on climate change can be better communicated to and used by policy makers (via the assessment process).
  • Consider how the IPCC can improve its interface to the social scientific communities.
  • Consider how structural changes to the IPCC process can improve its usefulness to the broad user community.
  • Communication of workshop results
    The workshop organizers place great importance on the effective communication of workshop outputs (within the constraints of Chatham-House rules) and envisage capturing constructive insights in a briefing document that will be released to relevant constituencies shortly after the workshop.


  • Social scientists who participated in AR5 and earlier Assessment Reports;
  • Participants in other assessment processes;
  • Users and potential users of climate assessments (e.g., policy makers, climate negotiators, senior staff of international governmental organizations).
  • Agenda summary

  • Two keynote talks (one from a participant in the IPCC process, the other from a user of IPCC reports);
  • brief presentations, with responses, organized in three sessions on: (i) substantive priorities for future assessments, (ii) institutional reform options, and (iii) connecting research outputs and policy;
  • Three breakout groups will distill proposals for improving the IPCC process and processes independent of the IPCC.
  • Role of the IPCC
    “The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.” (Principles Governing IPCC Work, par. 2)