UCT has launched a major new initiative to counteract perhaps the single biggest threat to Africa in recent years - climate change. Conceptualised under the leadership of Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price in late 2009, the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) was designed to realise the full potential of UCT's impressive but dispersed expertise in climate change and variability. Considerable donor funds - R4.5-million for the three years 2010 to 2012, as well as R2-million from the Vice-Chancellor's Strategic Funds - were committed to the initial stages of the initiative.
The vision of the ACDI is to be a centre that, through its work, expresses an optimistic African perspective on responsible stewardship of the planet. The ACDI aims to provide government and business leaders with evidence - informed by the latest science and social science research - on which to base action on mitigation and adaptation policy. Experts will foster and lead research programmes that will focus on the scientific, engineering, legal, social and political aspects of climate change. Findings will feed into the teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes (including a new interdisciplinary master's degree in 2011), and the centre will also develop and offer educational programmes for the public, schools and universities as part of its community outreach drive.
Initiatives will include an annual African Climate Workshop/Forum - inviting researchers and government representatives - as well as crosscampus and public seminars. Basing its initial work on the challenges and needs facing the south-western Cape, the centre will extend its work into the rest of the country and the continent.
Ultimately, it will provide an African perspective that is grounded in strong science and addresses the issues relating to climate variability and global change in Africa. And by harnessing the skills of African researchers and young scholars - and building partnerships in Africa - the ACDI centre will do its part to develop a new generation of African leaders of the future who can tackle this issue at a local, continental and global level.
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