The Africa Regional Forum (ARF) on Climate Change was hosted at Stellenbosch University (SU) by our School for Climate Studies in collaboration with the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC). The ARF provided an opportunity to learn more about the African Agenda for COP27, hosted in November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The ARF was a five-day, interactive, hybrid conference that allowed multiple institutions and stakeholders to engage in climate change science and its applied social and policy implications for Africa. The Forum hosted a range of delegates from 45 different universities across Africa.
As part of GAUC, Stellenbosch University's School of Climate Studies and SU were joined by 15 member universities from 6 continents, all dedicated to advancing climate change solutions. During the Climate-X launch other staff and students from GAUC were given the opportunity to virtually join the Stellenbosch delegates. The team later hosted an opening ceremony for the members at SU, which was performed by Prof Klopper, the Vice-Rector: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs. She extended a warm welcome to the delegates and noted that the ARF was excellent preparation for COP27. She emphasised the need to work together to advance the COP27 agenda and make Africa prominent in the role it has to play. She noted that the ARF, as the first on the continent and led by SU, is an important part of fostering and expanding the collaborative link between our African universities. Above all, it is consistent with SU's vision and mission of becoming Africa's leading research-intensive university, working in and for the continent.
The second day of the Forum began with a keynote address by the acting director of the School for Climate Studies, Prof Guy Midgley, who started the conversations on climate by discussing the potential non-linear adaptation costs. The Forum continued during the week with other exciting and productive panels and resolved to work towards establishing a body known as the African Universities Climate Network. This panel was dedicated to the idea of enhancing networks among Africans beyond those dedicated to climate change. Ms Simone Engelbrecht of the AUDA-NEPAD Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation, in collaboration with SU, reiterated that the work on climate change by African scientists would benefit from designing an African model focused on utilising and showcasing African creators, holders, and communicators of knowledge, and the resources in a communal repertoire.
The topic on climate was extended to panels such as the Periperi U live talk, youth engagement in climate science and policy, sustainable and renewable energy systems, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) implications on climate change, human health and climate change, and increasing African engagement in global assessment reports. The ARF received support from the South African National Research Foundation via the director who shared ways to acquire grants for research, but more important to emphasise the need for collaborations among Africans. Additional inputs and contributions came from the director of the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking that was established prior to the School for Climate Studies, for the purpose of creating a space to unite the best minds and thought leaders, academics, and policymakers in an interdisciplinary space. Students at the conference also received career, while SAFTA-nominated presenter Vicky Davis provided them with training in public speaking. She led delegates through a morning of tips and tools for delivering a presentation with confidence. The afternoon was used to work interactively on the delegates' presentation skills, providing feedback on their style, and how to improve message delivery.
The African Journal of Climate Studies (AJOCS) was launched at the ARF. The journal is a step forward in documenting and portraying African climate-related work and connecting experts and students of climate studies.
Ultimately, the ARF was a valuable opportunity for SU to host our African partners in person and virtually, and to emphasise the desire for African collaboration on climate change. Recordings of the ARF may be viewed/downloaded here:
African Journal of Climate Studies
Calls for submissions to AJOCS may be forwarded to the website http://climatestudies.org/, while calls for co-editors may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.