Nature names Huq among 2022’s top scientists

IIED senior associate Saleemul Huq has been chosen as one of the 10 people who have done most to help shape the biggest science stories in 2022, according to scientific journal Nature.

News, 28 December 2022
Salemuul Huq holding a microphone to his mouth

Saleemul Huq addresses guests at IIED's 50th anniversary party in 2022 (Photo: IIED)

One of the biggest successes of this year’s climate negotiations (COP27) was the decision to establish a loss and damage fund, which aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the impacts of climate change.

Campaigners have argued for almost 30 years that the world’s historically high carbon emitters should acknowledge their financial responsibility to low-emitting countries that face devastation as temperatures continue to rise.

And for over a decade, Huq, now director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh, has been the unofficial leader of the loss and damage movement.

By the 1990s, Huq was acting as an adviser to climate-vulnerable countries, especially least developed countries and Small Island Developing States, helping them to make the case for their needs to be on the agenda in UN talks.

Former IIED principal researcher Achala Abeysinghe, now at the Global Green Growth Institute, told Nature that Huq’s strategy was to persuade more countries (including China and India) of the case for loss and damage “so the least developed countries and small island states are not alone”. But the high-emitting wealthy countries were more difficult.

There was a breakthrough in 2015 when the term ‘loss and damage’ was explicitly used for the first time in Article 8 of the Paris Agreement.

Added Abeysinghe: “We were told that if we insist on including loss and damage, we would be blamed if the treaty failed. But it was an absolute red line. We were ready to walk.”

Previously director of IIED's Climate Change research group for many years, Huq’s 2022 began with him being awarded an OBE by the Queen in the New Year's Honours List for his services to combating international climate change.

The honour was awarded in recognition of his work to build climate expertise in Bangladesh, the UK and around the globe.

An expert on the links between climate change and sustainable development, particularly from the perspective of vulnerable developing countries, Huq was the lead author of chapters in the third, fourth and fifth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Also a professor at the Independent University, Bangladesh and an advisor to the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group in the UNFCCC, he has published hundreds of scientific as well as popular articles and has been recognised as one of the top 20 global influencers on climate change policy.

One of the few people to have attended all 27 of the UN climate change conferences, Huq is known for his clear communication and strong opinions. He was also the founder of the successful Development and Climate Days event at COP8 in Delhi that takes place during the conferences.