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What should the future of global change research look like?

If the future of global change research were in your hands, what would you focus on? Identifying extinction hotspots, understanding the impacts of sea level rise, or investigating how cultural values influence perceptions of risk?Future Earth is undertaking a community consultation to identify the most important and most critical challenges for global change science to address in the next 5 years.

The aim is to develop the Future Earth Strategic Research Agenda 2014 – a set of research priorities that will be co-designed with stakeholders from the funding, business and policy communities to help funders focus their resources.

This will be an iterative process, revisited and reviewed in subsequent years as needs and opportunities change.

The consultation process
Following an initial solicitation of research questions from within international science communities, an open consultation process has been launched to seek feedback on the priorities that have been identified so far, and to gain new ideas from global societal stakeholders of Future Earth.

An open, online consultation on priorities took place in April – May 2014.  Over 500 contributions were received from all over the world, and the results are now being collated.

In parallel to the activities above, Future Earth is also undertaking an assessment of similar priority-setting processes related to global change and sustainability, and this assessment will feed into the development of the final research agenda.

Next steps
Following the close of the online consultation, a priority-setting workshop will be held in order to evaluate and synthesize the inputs from the first rounds of consultation. The workshop is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT), the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan (RIHN), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and the Center for Sustainability Science, Taipei, China, and will involve participants from the scientific and stakeholder communities. A final review will be undertaken by Future Earth’s Science and Engagement committees.

The Strategic Research Agenda will be published in late September 2014.