Joint efforts have become necessary to tackling problems of global scale such as climate change. With this in mind, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Southern African Science Services Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) as well as the Western African Science Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Use (WASCAL) have signed a declaration that will see the three organisations jointly counter effects of climate change.
H.E. Bettina Stark – Watzinger, Hon Phildah Kereng and Hon. Prof Amadou Keita signed the Joint Declaration of Intent on behalf of the BMBF, SASSCAL and WASCAL respectively. The Joint Declaration of Intent document emphasizes the need for joint efforts to improve the projection of the impact of climate change on the economic development of the African regions and the means to provide empirical evidence to policy makers on land use that will help counter these effects. This will in turn encourage and promote research and innovation at the regional and national levels.
Officiating at the signing of the Declaration, H.E. Stark – Watzinger said, the Joint Declaration of intent would shape the future of joint cooperation in the areas of excellent academic training, innovative and practice-oriented, collaborative and transitional research as well as the establishment, extension and operation of advanced research infrastructure in the Western and Southern African regions.
The declaration would also facilitate understanding of how to further the aims of SASSCAL and WASCAL. The trio recognize the Paris Agreement and the Sharm-el-Sheikh Implementation Plan and the serious concerns they raised with regard to the gap between current levels of adaptation and the levels needed to respond to the adverse effects of climate change. The signing ceremony, held in Berlin, Germany during SASSCAL – WASCAL Joint Ministerial Event from 21 – 22 February 2023, celebrated 10-year anniversaries of the two African regional science service centres.
The Vice-Chair of the Ministerial Council of SASSCAL and Botswana Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Hon. Kereng pointed out that the signing of the Joint Declaration of Intent coincides with SASSCAL 2.0 Research portfolio to be launched in March this year.
Hon. Kereng recognised the numerous achievements of SASSCAL during the last 10 years. These include 88 research tasks focusing on climate, water, forestry, agriculture and biodiversity. In addition, the project generated 230 peer-reviewed publications and produced a number of graduates including 227 Bachelors and Master’s degrees, and 33 doctorates. Honourable Kereng applauded the Green Hydrogen Programme of SASSCAL and the need to include more projects in all Member States.
At the same occasion, Chairperson of the Ministerial Council of WASCAL and Mali Republic’s Minister of Higher Education and Research, Hon. Prof Keita reiterated that the fight against climate change needs a stronger regional integration to ensure that the battle is won.
Apart from celebrating the 10-year Anniversaries of SASSCAL and WASCAL, the event also hosted a Joint Ministerial Council Meeting. The SASSCAL and WASCAL Council of Ministers is the highest organ of these two institutions and is constituted by the Ministers within the SASSCAL and WASCAL Member States and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as the initial funding partner.
The event also held a Networking conference for SASSCAL and WASCAL during which the two heads of institutions pitched their value propositions to high-level meeting of Ministers, Board Members, ambassadors, potential funders, partner organizations, and stakeholders. During her presentation, SASSCAL Executive Director, Dr Jane Olwoch said, “the basic economic resources and the means of production is no longer capital, neither land, nor labor. It is and will be knowledge”.
The Ministers and their delegations concluded their auspicious meeting by visiting the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament), where they discussed a number of issues that the African leaders intend to cooperate on with the Federal Government of Germany.