Annual Report 2021

A year of exceptional life science research, training, service, industry collaboration, and integration of European life science research.

Life Sciences at COP26

As part of the preparation for EMBL’s new Programme to study life ‘in context’, it published a white paper on molecular biology’s role in the Green Recovery and attended COP26 as an Observer shortly afterwards.

planet earth with artistic interpretations of molecular imagery
Cell image provided by Kristina Arato/EMBL. Composition by Creative Team/EMBL

Following in the footsteps of the Paris Climate Agreement, world leaders met at the UN Climate Change Conference 2021 – known as COP26 – to put forward their nations’ plans to tackle the climate crisis.

And for the first time, EMBL was there. 

White paper on molecular biology and green recovery
Leading European molecular biologists came together in 2021 to identify current and potential solutions to challenges in four research areas: global warming, loss of biodiversity, biogeochemical flows, and manufactured pollutants. The findings are set out in the white paper ‘Harnessing molecular biology to accelerate the Green Recovery‘, released to inform and stimulate debate at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). 

EMBL attended this important conference as an official Observer, to raise awareness amongst other participants of the potential role life sciences, and molecular biology in particular, can play in tackling environmental issues. Prior to COP26, EMBL – along with other major US and European science laboratories – affirmed its shared commitment to uniting science towards a sustainable, resilient global society and economy.

In preparation for this event, EMBL also created a white paper titled ‘Harnessing molecular biology to accelerate the Green Recovery’. It spotlights promising molecular biology-based solutions to climate challenges. The paper followed a workshop EMBL hosted to explore this topic with other European molecular biologists. The White Paper was covered by media outlets across member states including Le Monde, Nature, Agencia SINC, and others, and featured on social media.

EMBL’s participation in European and global initiatives to address climate change challenges continues to increase. Since 2021, EMBL has also had a European Climate Pact Ambassador. The Ambassadors will engage people and organisations not yet involved in climate action and act as a bridge between the European Commission and their respective host organisations on these issues.

“EMBL was honoured to be accepted as an official Intergovernmental Observer Organisation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and to send a delegation to COP26 in Glasgow.”

— Lindsey Crosswell, Head of External Relations at EMBL-EBI, EMBL’s designated contact with the UNFCCC

parking garage with plants growing all along its side, next to tall trees

Next Story

Molecular biology goes green

EMBL steps up its own response to global environmental problems with its first Sustainability Strategy.