A far-reaching programme to back Africa’s new generation of scientific leaders
Created in December 2017 at the One Planet Summit, the One Planet Fellowship aims to create a large network of African and European researchers working on climate change adaptation in Africa’s agricultural sector. This five-year programme is supported by the BNP Paribas Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Commission and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada). It is managed by AWARD (ICRAF, Kenya) and the Agropolis Foundation.
The One Planet Fellowship programme launched its inaugural call for applications in February. 45 applicants from 12 African countries were selected from 1,523 candidates. The African countries eligible for the first call for applications were Benin, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, Nigeria, Mali, Malawi, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ivory Coast. The 45 winners gathered in Nairobi on Monday, September 16 for the programme’s official launch and met the mentors with whom they will follow an important mentoring programme. At the beginning of the week, the 90 junior and senior African researchers began courses in leadership, climatology, and personal development.
With a budget of approximately $20 million, all One Planet Fellowship partners will strengthen this scientific community of climate change adaptation experts. Through this vibrant, connected and intergenerational network, the programme’s laureates will jointly develop specific and innovative solutions to effectively address environmental challenges related to Africa’s needs and priorities.
develop specific and innovative solutions to effectively address environmental challenges related to Africa’s needs and priorities.
Addressing the environmental challenge in Africa, the continent most vulnerable to climate change
The challenge of adapting the farming sector to climate change is now vital given Africa's growing demographics and, therefore, its particular vulnerability to global warming.
The programme capitalises on the methodology and expertise of AWARD’s gender-based approach: "We expect that the One Planet Fellowship laureates will integrate a gender-based approach to the continent in developing their solutions to reduce gender inequalities in Africa's agricultural sector," said AWARD Director Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg at the programme's opening event.
Moreover, the One Planet Fellowship’s scientific framework is based on the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The press release of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) held in Paris recognised "the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security... and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the impacts of climate change." With Africa’s farming sector under serious threat from climate change, the researchers involved in the programme will work on:
- collecting and using climate-related data pertaining to the agricultural sector;
- agricultural practices to facilitate the management of variability and adaptation;
- the link between climate change and food systems;
- socio-economic issues.
At the launch event, Prof. Hamadi Boga, Secretary of State at the Kenyan Government's Department of Agricultural Research and Crop Development, highlighted the challenges the African agricultural sector is facing. "Global warming,” he said, “continues to damage agricultural yields and to undermine poverty eradication and efforts on the continent to achieve food security. Scientific research plays a crucial role in helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change..."
Scientific research plays a crucial role in helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change.
The AWARD methodology
Photo : © Yulia Panevina