Workshop to explore potential for future interdisciplinary research in Africa underway

Accra- A three-day experts’ workshop on using air pollution as a focus to explore new interdisciplinary research, collaborations and opportunities that will support progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for countries across Africa has opened in Accra.

The workshop brings together research fellows from the University of York (UK), Institute of Environmental and Sanitation Studies (IESS), University of Ghana, Legon, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to brainstorm on the potential for future interdisciplinary research to tackle air pollution in West Africa and Africa in general.

The focus of the workshop is on the systems that influence air pollution and its impact; but will also address a whole suite of sustainable development challenges important in the wider African context.

Professor Chris Gordon, Country Engagement Lead, Climate and Development Knowledge Network and a former Director of IESS, said air pollution is an environmental challenge that is currently high on the political agenda in both developed and developing countries.

He said air pollution impacts on a variety of physical systems including human health and agriculture and requires strong interdisciplinary collaborations across social, economic and political system to identify workable solutions for air pollution.

The main aim of the workshop is to develop research collaborations between the University of York and their counterparts working in Ghana with a view to submitting research proposals to relevant future calls.

He said the workshop would focus on three key areas, including Human Health, Agriculture, Policy and Behavioural Change.

Under Human Health, he said, participants would develop a framework for co-operation on air pollution and health for West Africa by reviewing current methods and stakeholder needs to assess health impacts; improve assessments and outcomes of the impact on air pollution on human health.

They will also explore agricultural emissions, impacts and carbon sequestration in agriculture and forest ecosystems within a climate smart agriculture framework to understand the physical science of emissions, transformation and impacts and connect within the context of farmer livelihoods and rural transition.

He said for Policy and behavioural change, the participants would develop mechanisms for stakeholder engagement to explore mitigation and adaption options and their development and implementation, for example, energy provision, supply and transition, mechanisms for co-development of interventions with local communities, local government, among others; and barriers to implementation; trade-offs and synergies of interventions with SGDs.

Prof Lisa Emberson, a Director of Sweden Environmental Institute (SEI) University of York, said another aim is to understand how natural, social, economic and political systems influence environmental challenges to sustainable development.

She said their effort is to increase partnership with West Africa, bring together policy makers to identify future challenges for the West Africa.

We will also brainstorm on wider sustainable development challenges for West Africa and Africa as a whole as well as identify research collaboration between the two universities to build research topics around the challenges, she said.

Chris Malley, a Research Associate at SEI, University of York, said a study has shown that outdoor air pollution accounts for 253,000 premature deaths and 116,000 infant deaths in 2017 in West Africa, representing five per cent and 31 per cent respectively of global total.

He called for improved quality exposure mechanisms, targeting gender, age, occupation, socio-economic status.

Source: Ghana News Agency