The SARUA Climate Change Counts in South Africa workshop was held on 21 August at the Groenkloof Campus of the University of Pretoria. The workshop was made possible through the kind assistance of the University of Pretoria in partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology.
Given the large university sector in South Africa, a different approach was taken than in the other eleven SADC countries targeted. Background information and requests for nominees to attend were sent to the Vice-Chancellors, relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Deans of all 23 universities, as well as to representatives of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Department of Science and Technology, National Research Foundation and Department of Higher Education and Training. From the lists of nominees received, invitations were sent out to approximately 200 individuals to attend the workshop, and 80 invitees indicated they would attend. People who could not attend were asked to complete the online questionnaires.
Two very interesting presentations were made during the morning session.
Judy Beaumont, Deputy Director-General: Climate Change and Air Quality, Department of Environmental Affairs provided a national overview of programmes and initiatives in place which surprised even some academics in attendance.
This was followed by Dr Achuo Enow, Programme Director for Global Change: National Research Foundation, who spoke about the Global Change Grand Challenge, climate compatible development and the SA research environment.
Five workgroups were formed to discuss and identify knowledge, research, individual and institutional gaps around:
- Theme 1: Integrated systems approach to CCD
- Theme 2: Social innovation, social learning
- Theme 3: Understanding a changing planet
- Theme 4: Adaptation related issues
- Theme 5: Mitigation related issues
Bringing together as many representatives as possible from 23 universities was a daunting task, and the South African workshop at least ensured some good quality discussions around the government : university interface. It was highlighted that the South African private sector needs to be involved in future discussions.
The most important aspect or issue emerging from the discourse is emphasis on transdisciplinary research and integration of interventions.
The South Africa workshop was opened by Prof Stephanie Burton, Vice-Principal: Research and Postgraduate Education, University of Pretoria and closed by Prof Lulama Makhubela, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Postgraduate Studies, Research and Innovation, Tshwane University of Technology.