Creating the right intellectual climate change

12 August 2002
DELEGATES from around the country and the rest of the continent made their way to UCT in June to attend the first in a series of conferences-cum-workshops to be hosted by the Energy and Development Research Centre (EDRC), designed specifically to bring policymakers up to scratch with the latest developments in climate change and energy.

Over the two-week run of the Climate Change for Policymakers programmes, representatives were introduced to issues such as modelling climate change scenario, energy emissions, international negotiations, future commitments for developing countries, as well as the all-important question of sustainable development. Participants also visited the Global Atmospheric Watch Station at Cape Point, one of three stations in Africa designated and equipped to monitor emissions into the atmosphere.

The course boasted representatives from a number of African countries, some coming from as far afield as Botswana and Sierra Leone. In turn, the South African participants came from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), The Department of Trade and Industry, Eskom and the South-South-North Project, among others.

According to the Director of the EDRC, Professor Ogunlade Davidson, the course – funded largely by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – is the first of a number the EDRC plans to organise over the next few years for policy makers. The programmes are expected to take place biannually.

These courses are part of the EDRC's programme on Energy and Climate Change Capacity Building for Africa, and a response to requests by a number of SADC countries for short courses on these topics, said Davidson. The EDRC has also been approached to set up a tailor-made programme on climate change for Kenyan industrialists.

While the substantial interest might be ascribed to the fact that the EDRC is the only institution in Africa offering such a detailed course, the relatively low fees – a similar course in Europe could set a delegate back by as much as $3 000 – might also be an incentive, Davidson noted.

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