Justice in Science?

On Day 3 of COP26, Senior Lecturer in Geography, Olalekan Adekola, asks why we aren’t getting to hear the essential and expert contributions of scientists from the Global South on climate change and its solutions. 


Science is essential for understanding and solving the climate change problem. It was reassuring to see Reuters ‘Hot List’ of 1000 influential scholars in climate change published in April 202.

However, the delight soon turned to trepidation after seeing that of the 1000 scholars 757 are based in Europe and America, 111 are based in countries of the Global South of which 87 are from China. Just one of the scholars is based at an institution in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been on the frontline of learning about climate change – and has become expert in this field.

This glaring one-sided ‘ownership’ of climate change knowledge raises a lot of questions. How come about 90% of the ‘scientists having the biggest impact on the climate-change debate’ come from the Global North? Such poor recognition given scholars from Global South in climate science leaves climate change science vulnerable to reproducing colonial hierarchies, undermine some of the great expertise available in the Global South and deny the world opportunity to learn and benefit from enduring climate change practices.

If we are to solve the global climate change conundrum, all relevant knowledge and expertise needed must be accurately and fully acknowledged and brought to bear on global narratives. Everyone passionate about solving the climate change challenge should reflect on how academic research either reinforces or dislodges colonial discourses and presents western knowledge and culture as the core of a ‘universal knowledge’.


Tomorrow the theme of decolonising knowledge continues: Manjinder Jagdev (Senior Lecturer in Education) will explain how her holistic approach to building climate and racial justice into mathematics education.