Accra,- Over 50 trained Climate Change scientists and researchers from ten West African lead Universities have converged in Accra, for an Alumni network and homecoming conference towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in West Africa.
The participants, who formed part of the 195 trained under the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) and Graduate Studies Programme (GSP).
The two-day conference would be used to share knowledge, build partnerships, and ensure participation in fund raising, quality assurance, capacity building and scaling up their Climate Change adaptation solutions in a bankable way.
The conference is on the theme: Towards Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in West Africa: The Footprints of WASCAL, and would also focus on paths taken by the organisation to ensure Climate Change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the Region.
Professor Janet Adelegan, the Director of Capacity Building, WASCAL, in her opening message on Wednesday, underscored the importance of capacity building especially in science and research, to collectively address the challenges of Climate Change in the Region, as no single country could effectively mitigate these effects.
Outlining some achievement of WASCAL, she said, the organisation had since the commencement of the GSP in 2012 trained 258 West Africans in Climate Change thematic areas through the ten Universities.
As at August 2018, 99 alumni had been awarded with Masters Degrees, with 96 others graduating with Doctoral Degrees, making a total of 195.
Prof Adelegan said some reforms had been made to its GSP, with the upgrading of four Master Research programmes in the Gambia, Togo, Nigeria and Niger Universities respectively, to doctoral programmes with effect from 2018.
We have also introduced two new GSP on Informatics for Climate Change in Burkina Faso and Climate Change and Marine Sciences in Cape Verde, she said.
Prof. Adelegan said WASCAL also expanded its capacity building to include; in-service training and on-the-job short time training programmes to strengthen the existing human capacity of member countries to allow them participate in the on-going global discourse on climate change, and respond to current and future adaptation and mitigation challenges.
Plans were also advanced to commence Vocational Training Programmes (VTP) to include; Meteorological Instrumentation and Measurement Technique (MIMT); Disaster Risk Management in a Climate Change; and Clean Energy Installation, at three WASCAL GSPs.
Dr Moumini Savadogo, the Executive Director, WASCAL, thanked the German government who through its Federal Ministry of Higher Education and Research (BMBF) had provided 50 million Euros, to support capacity development, and other key interventions towards achieving the SDGs.
This, he said, had created the platform for the scientists and researchers to play critical roles in combating climate change in West Africa and urged the beneficiaries to continue to maximise the opportunities created for them, to influence their societies, impact their communities, and make the most of the knowledge acquired to effect positive change in the Region.
As you are fully aware, West Africa has been unbridled by several challenges, of which climate change plays a very key role. Your countries are waiting for you.
West Africa is counting on your manifestation to address the critical climate change issues in the Region, he said.
Dr Savadogo implored members of the Alumni to deepen the relationship that exited among them, and build strong ties with other colleagues for the purposes of networking, idea sharing and opportunities.
Mr Hans-Helge Sander, the Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy, Accra, who chaired the programme, said issues of Climate Change had gained much global attention, and relating this to the current heat waves being experienced in Germany and forest fires in the USA, called for urgent interventions to effectively address the challenges.
He affirmed Germany’s commitment towards ensuring the development of the necessary data and techniques, to inform policy decisions and ensure that Climate Change did not become a stumbling block to development in West Africa as they had already introduced adaptation and mitigation measures for climate change risks into policies and strategies of countries so they adapt as they developed.
That is why we need to raise issues of climate change high on the political agenda to a level that politicians could make informed decisions based on good data that WASCAL had over the last six years developed, he said.
The official magazine of WASCAL the ‘Alumni Connect’ was also launched, with a call on all members to actively contribute and share their knowledge through its platform, and also patronise by reading news of successes achieved by other alumni, staff and current students.
Source: Ghana News Agency