To add to its pioneering work to combat climate change and enhance resilience, Stellenbosch University (SU) is now also home to the CliMigHealth-Stellenbosch Africa Hub, the African arm of an international network hosted at Ghent University in Belgium. The launch of the hub took place at the newly renovated SU Library on Friday 24 March 2023.
To mark the event, SU International hosted a high-level delegation from Ghent University and SU's School for Climate Studies, where CliMigHealth will be based. The Ghent delegation, including Ghent University's Vice-Rector Prof Mieke van Herreweghe and other dignitaries, were in South Africa as part of the broader national Belgian state visit.
Platform for regional cooperation
CliMigHealth is an acronym for 'climate', 'migration' and 'health'. This transdisciplinary, interuniversity initiative aims to generate knowledge on the interactions between these three areas. The vision of the project, founded in 2020 at Ghent University, is to better adapt to, mitigate and prepare for current and future effects of climate change, have a greater understanding of the role and impact of migration, and develop resilient, inclusive and responsive health systems.
In addition to the African hub at SU, Latin-American and Asian hubs will be launched in the course of 2023 at Lancet Migration in Lima, Peru, and at the United Nations University's International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, respectively.
By creating a platform for regional collaboration between universities, different disciplines and non-profit organisations, the hub will facilitate the sharing of findings specific to Africa. This will encourage the setting of regional priorities for climate-migration-health research and education, which, in turn, can be translated into community-based actions suited to local contexts and languages.
Letter of intent formalises collaboration
At the launch, both Robert Kotze, senior director of SU International, and Prof Guido van Huylenbroeck, director of Internationalisation at Ghent, welcomed this new phase of collaboration between the two institutions and across the rest of Africa in order to tackle global and regional challenges. These sentiments were echoed by SU's Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Sibusiso Moyo.
Other contributors to the programme were Prof Guy Midgley, director of SU's School of Climate Studies, Dr Christan Lueme from SU's Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, and Dr Charlotte Scheerens, coordinator of CliMigHealth at Ghent.
In addition, the event offered the School for Climate Studies, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Ghent University an opportunity to co-sign a letter of intent to work together across disciplines and universities to mitigate some of the most pressing issues facing modern society.
Exhibition showcases human element
The launch also included the photo exhibition Strength and resilience in the Western Cape by renowned South African photojournalist and visual artist Gulshan Khan. Her work highlights the impact of climate, migration and healthcare challenges on people's lives and, therefore, the urgent need for solutions. The exhibition will remain accessible to the entire SU community for an extended period.
Link to photo album: CliMigHeath launch pics