Mikel Gonzalez-Eguino – BC3 research professor

One of your strong suits is cultivating strong relationships with policy makers, industry, environmental campaigners, NGO’s and scientists. How important do you think these (cross-cutting) relationships are to BC3 as a research centre?
Solutions for climate change need the effort and participation of all economic and social agents. Therefore, it is important to be in permanent and direct contact with these agents, without exclusions, and be as close and grounded as possible to their reality, understanding their concerns and legitimate interests that exist. Working directly with companies, public decision-makers or NGOs, in addition to giving you a more complete vision of reality, is undoubtedly very enriching from a personal and human point of view. Although it’s not always easy, I really enjoy this process. BC3 has given me the opportunity to extend my work as an economist to other fields of knowledge and expertise. For too long researchers have worked, in my opinion, in very narrow disciplines and in BC3 we are trying to break these barriers and have a more multi-disciplinary and multi-agent approach to problems. For me it is exciting to be able to contribute, together with all these agents, to the task of advancing the transition towards a fossil fuel-free economy operating within the environmental and social limits of the planet. The change we need is enormous and logically will not be done from our offices and laboratories, so we have no choice but to go out.
But there must be difficulties in translating science to different domains (i.e. public platforms such as TV and radio?)
I believe that the fundamental challenge is to encourage researchers to dive, without fear into the pool of communication. We have to leave the comfort zone of our offices and laboratories and make a greater effort to reach people with a vocabulary that is closer to and more apprehensible to society. Society demands more and more scientific knowledge and we have to give answers. It is important not to forget that the space of communication that we do occupy as experts, will be taken over by others who may not have the knowledge or worse, be interested in promoting particular interests, something that has already happened in the field of climate change and has cost us a huge delay. Given that it is not easy to communicate well and that we are not trained as researchers to deal with the media, it would be very useful in this sense to have some basic training and support so that all are encouraged to take that step.
This “delay” must also have repercussions…being father to 3, how do you feel about handing over our current world to future generations?
No doubt, having children has changed my perception of environmental risks. Although the ecological crisis has never been something abstract or theoretical to me, having children has made me appreciate with greater depth the fragility of life and the planet. To my children and future generations, I would like to pass on a world in which they can prosper and be free and happy and I am concerned to see that this future is objectively in danger. For me the real risk, our greatest enemy, is the magical belief that progress is guaranteed: it is not and will never be, neither the environmental nor in other fundamental aspects of development. Therefore, it is necessary to constantly work in favour of the forces promoting progress, in terms of our work and responsibilities.
Having children has also made me anticipate a question that may arise in the future: “Aita, where were you and what did you do to solve the ecological crisis?” I would like to be able to answer that, with my contradictions, trying to put my grain of sand of contribution towards this purpose, to say that I was brave and I did not conform. I also feel that I have a responsibility because I belong to the first generation of people with access to objective knowledge backed by science which talks about the tremendous harm we are causing to the planet and all the options we have at our disposal to give a reasonable solution. I hope to be living up to the task when I am posed this question.

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