The Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) established a Programme for Climate Change Capacity Development in 2010, which was endorsed by a majority of Vice Chancellors within SARUA’s 60 public university members. The programme aims to build capacity for climate compatible development (CCD), which is emerging as a platform for significant collaboration across the academic sector. The first phase – the Climate Change Counts mapping study – was concluded in May 2014 and the objectives were to:
- Explore diverse understandings of climate compatible development on a country-by-country basis;
- Scope climate compatible development knowledge and capacity needs on a country-by-country basis;
- Identify and map research, teaching and outreach capabilities for CCD that exist in southern African countries;
- Produce an up-to-date picture of the extent of knowledge co-production and trans-disciplinary research practices across the SARUA network and identify opportunities for future collaboration.
The results of the mapping study were published by SARUA on its website.
Universities have a key role to play in supporting societal innovation and change for CCD. Not only do they develop the knowledge and competence of future leaders in government, business and civil society, but they also provide immediate societal responses given their pivotal role as centres of research, teaching, knowledge sharing and social empowerment. Given the risk multiplier effect of climate change, coupled with the multiple stressor context, it is clear that the impacts of climate change will be far-ranging, acting upon diverse sectors such as transportation, agriculture, health, industry, and tourism. This necessitates a wide-ranging and cross-sector response, in which non-climate-related knowledge fields will be called upon.
Recognising climate change as a pervasive development challenge creates opportunities for academics, researchers and students from a wide range of disciplines in the sciences and humanities to shape pathways of climate compatible development, including through transdisciplinary research.
Following on the mapping study, the programme is currently entering a next phase, with the development of a shared climate change curriculum within the SADC region to commence in 2015.
The HEMA Consortium, which comprised a regional team of 18 consultants, coordinate the mapping study on behalf of SARUA.