Southern Africa Regional Workshop on Climate Research Partnership Concludes

Progress Namibia - Southern Africa Regional Workshop on Climate Research Partnership Concludes
29 May 2016

A two days’ workshop on climate change research and development organized by Climate Research for Development (CR4D) in Africa came to a conclusion with delegates agreeing to pursue focused climate research in Agriculture. The Southern Africa Regional workshop was hosted by University of Botswana from 26 – 27 May, 2016 and attracted delegates from all member states of SADC. The major objective of the workshop was to expand the landscape of collaboration among critical stakeholders and institutions to include a balanced representation from academic institutions, policy makers, NGOs, and other grassroots players/practitioners within the SADC region. Specific objectives of the workshop include: scoping and assessment of user-driven climate research priorities for Southern Africa and initiating Multi-Stakeholder Collaborative Partnership for effective integration of new research into applications; facilitate the formation of multi-disciplinary participatory climate research and outreach teams jointly focused on identifying, co-designing and undertaking priority user-inspired climate research that can improve quality and access to climate information and services for policy making and development planning
The forum aimed at kick-starting a consultative process of assessing and consolidating the unique regional challenges and opportunities for multi-institution and multi-stakeholder, user-driven and integrated climate research that contributes to enhancing climate information and services for policy and development planning. The wider representation was to ensure that inputs from all critical stakeholders are fully integrated into the identification of user-driven climate research priorities, in the co-design and co-production of new climate knowledge and information, as well as in the translation of new science into applications.
The CR4D is an initiative that aims to facilitate integration of the Africa climate research community (scientists and institutions) with end-user climate information needs. These are the first steps towards building an effective network or climate scientists and practitioners in Africa to better create platforms for integration of climate science into development planning for Africa. The overarching mission of CR4D is to create a Pan-Africa Collaborative Platform and a federated network of African climate science, services, policy, and practice communities as well as development partners and other stakeholders to co-explore, co-design, co-produce and co-communicate climate information and services, thus improving access, quality, and usability as well as mainstreaming of climate information into Development Planning in Africa.

Notable outputs from the workshop include:
a.Identification of agriculture as priority user-driven climate research need, with main focus on prediction/forecasting and projections on pattern and distribution of rainfall. Other additional elements to be considered include temperature changes and water tables.
b.Identified platforms such as Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) and Climate Services Centre (CSC) for sharing of information;
c.Adopted CSC Strategy on Communication as guidelines for communicating climate research outcomes in the region. This is opposed to the duplication of efforts to develop new guidelines when this has not been fully implemented by member states;
d.Establishment of communication channels for climate research outcomes to all stakeholders. The workshop established that dissemination workshops that are normally conducted do not produce desired understanding. The research communication can easily be understood by potential end users, but also requires adapting, synthesis and customizing knowledge to context – consider how to communicate technical terms.

Other critical issues noted from the workshop include:
1.“users” do not know enough about climate change and issues related as such may contribute to low uptake of climate research information. As such, there is a need to build a strong relationship between “users” and generators of climate information at all levels and there is need for conversations among all key stakeholders;
2.Regional governments overall are hard to get on board in different affairs mainly due to bureaucratic processes, even those related to climate hence scientists seem to be doing little. Efforts should be made to get on board government support at all cost;
3.There is need to establish one-stop climate data/information centre which is reliable, accessible and packaged to sector specific. Various players already are doing a lot with regards to climate research, but such information is scattered and sometimes kept confidential…so the centre will make it possible to share;
4.Use of already existing structure such as institutions of higher learning, research centre and data producers such as national meteorological departments can accelerate accomplishment of tangible results. This is opposed to establishing new structures to implement components of the initiative.

Progress Namibia representative found the meeting to be very useful. He was not only representing youth perspective during the meeting, with his vast experience working with the communities/farmers, he was able to share their concerns. The knowledge gained will thus help in programming youth interventions in various networks he is associated with at national and international level. This will also be an opportunity for him to align his research areas (academic and otherwise) as gaps and needs have been identified for meaningful impact on African development.