SASSCAL’s Executive Director sets SASSCAL’s high level stakeholder engagement on course as she meets the political and administrative leadership of the Botswana Ministry of Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology. The Ministry of Tertiary Education Research, Science and Technology in Botswana plays an influential role in the advancement of science-based research and climate change policy. This positions them as a key and important stakeholder to SASSCAL’s climate change and land management agenda.
The brief purpose of the engagement was to acquaint the Minister, Honourable Douglas Letsholathebe and his team, about SASSCAL’s historical perspectives and achievements, current status of projects, the institution’s future plans.
Presenting to the stakeholder during the event, Dr Jane Olwoch put on the top of the agenda the devastating effects of climate change on the planet earth that is getting warmer and warmer especially from the late 2000 to the current year. She warns of life-threatening dangers to befall the earth if the effects of global warning continue unabated.
Although she positively acknowledged the effort the world leaders including the Botswana Government by the signing of the Paris Agreement, Dr Olwoch reiterated that it was still not enough to curb the effects of global warming. She calls for decisive actions in developing initiatives, partnerships, and innovative interventions that promote increased utilisation of renewable energy among the stakeholders. “That’s why together with other Governments SASSCAL has also attempted to contribute to the energy sector.” Dr Olwoch continued to say that SASSCAL together with other institutions were formed as first realization of Bali Action Plan that speaks about Regional Centres to be formed to address climate change and other ecosystem services across boundaries. Since its inception in 2012 a lot of tremendous work has been done across the Southern African Region in the fight against climate change.
In his response to SASSCAL’s leadership, the Hon Minister, commended the contribution SASSCAL has made to advance the fight against climate change. The Minister also expressed commitment to a long-term partnership with SASSCAL, which will be preceded by a formalised strategic meeting with his ministry.
Speaking during the meeting the Hon Minister Letsholathebe also affirmed Botswana’s drive towards climate friendly policies, and that currently the country was working on fostering a new climate change policy with the aim of tackling greenhouse gases.
The Minister highlighted how important climate change was and land management were to Botswana as its economy is more reliant on agriculture and tourism. Hon Letsholathebe also thanked SASSCAL’s efforts in aiding the Botswana weather and climate infrastructure through establishment of Open Access Data Centre that is now a source of key data to shape the country’s policies and decisions.
Hon Letsholathebe further thanked SASSCAL’s leadership for proposing Botswana host Centre of Excellence in the near future. The Centre of Excellence on Biodiversity and Ecosystem. is a step in the right direction for Botswana future and the health of its people and conservation of nature.
In his remarks, Dr Obakeng Sethamo, SASSCAL Programme Coordinator for the Botswana Node said that ‘We are here to support policy makers through our evidence-based research. The envisaged Centre of Excellence for Botswana can bring foreign investment while international seasoned researchers can partner up with local young researchers creating an opportunity for them to learn. There are a lot of challenges with our Masters, PHD and Postgraduates when putting out a call for research hence we provide training on how they can respond amongst many other skills with our counterparts in the member state countries and other countries across the world. We are excited about the future for our research sector here in Botswana”
The meeting ended with energy and a positive outlook for both parties. In attendance to the virtual meeting held on 29 July 2021 was Hon. Douglas Letsholathebe Botswana Minister of Tertiary Education Research Science and Technology, the Permanent Secretary Dr Kekgonne Baipoledi, SASSCAL Executive Director Dr Jane Olwoch, SASSCAL Director of Science and Technology / Capacity Development Dr Jorg Helmschrot and Botswana Programme Coordinatoor for SASSCAL, Dr Obakeng Sethamo.