The Southern African Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) has signed two strategic Memoranda of Understanding that will see it cooperate with other institutions in building capacity, conducting scientific research and providing solutions to the pressing problems of climate change. SASSCAL signed MoUs with the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGCA) and the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) on the 17th and 19th of May 2022.
The MoU with the SDGCA will enable the two organizations to cooperate in areas that will be crucial in realizing Africa’s targets towards realization of the UNSDGs while the agreement with NCRST will see both institutions collaborating in scientific research, capacity development and provision of services both for a period of five years.
SASSCAL and SDGCA’s partnership will enable the two organizations initiate and support collaborative research-based activities; align data and information collection and sharing strategies; and explore opportunities for the development and implementation of innovative, tailor-made and evidence-based services resulting from their activities.
The MoU, which took effect on 19 May 2022, will focus on developing awareness campaigns, policy briefs and research working papers to increase the outreach of jointly developed evidence-based project outcomes; developing and implementing joint capacity development activities to increase research, knowledge, and technology uptake as well as information and knowledge exchange on sustainable resources practices, policies, framework, incentives, and technologies.
Dr. Olwoch noted that cooperation in research, data sharing, capacity building, and awareness remain critical in addressing climate change, making sure the targets for sustainable development goals are reached, and ensuring that data is shared in order to maximize its value. She said: “It is also timely as the whole world is searching for means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions towards a net zero-emission future.”
Signing the MoU was a sure way to commit to joining efforts towards the realizations of the sustainable development goal targets, the Paris Agreement and also towards our own achievements of the Agenda 2063: The Africa we Want, Dr Olwoch added.
The SDGCA was represented by the acting Director-General, Ms. Caroline Makasa who remarked that partnerships remained strategic and important, especially in areas of research, data collection and harmonizing the data, capacity building, monitoring, and evaluation and also influencing the policymakers. Makasa reiterated the importance of mitigating climate change, whose effects are being felt not only in weather but also in rainfall patterns.
SASSCAL is a joint initiative of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Germany, established in response to challenges of global change and covering thematic areas including climate, water, forestry, agriculture, and biodiversity, while SDGCA is an international organization that supports governments, civil society, businesses and academic institutions to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the SDGs in Africa.
SASSCAL and NCSRT are collaborating having realized that they can leverage on each other’s expertise since there is a clear overlap in their missions. SASSCALS’s mission is to strengthen the regional capacity to generate and use scientific knowledge products and services for decision making through research management capacity development and provision of services, while that of NCRST is to establish and strengthen a national system that promotes, develops and informs research science, technology and innovation to achieve a knowledge-based society.
The heads of the two institutions, Dr Jane Olwoch and Ms. Albertina Ngurare representing SASSCAL and NCRST respectively, signed the MoU at a ceremony that was held at SASSCAL Regional Secretariat in Windhoek on 17 May, 2022.
Apart from establishing strategic partnerships in research and capacity development, the agreement covers three additional areas which are to identify principles of collaboration for services and products to be provided by the Parties; to define the frame and the overall responsibilities of the Parties, which can be rendered in more detail in separate Cooperative Project Agreement; as well as providing the scope for subsequent Cooperative Project Agreements that clarify the financial and material responsibilities that the Parties may provide for the implementation of such Cooperative Project Activities.
Dr Olwoch said that as both organizations aspire to see a realization of a knowledge-based society, they should also ensure that the purpose of the MoU is put to practice by developing complementary scientific and capacity developing activities in line with their institution’s mission, national goals, the agenda 2063, the Africa We Want, the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.
SASSCAL is now coordinating Green Hydrogen projects in SADC, including Namibia and this activity according to Dr Olwoch “demands a new calibre of young engineers, scientists, economists, educators and social scientists”. In this regard, both institutions have a role to play in green hydrogen economy and all related sciences such as desalination, electrolysers and development of other technologies.
Ngurare is of the view that Namibia needs to maintain a concrete science and technology agenda to not only address social challenges, but also to devise mechanisms to promote sustainable utilisation of resources and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The NCRST, she said, recognises the results that have come about through SASSCAL including DATA and Information Portal and Weather Net, which have addressed the critical shortage of weather stations in Namibia. “Moreover, we take increased graduates in the areas of Earth Observations and Geographical Information Systems thanks to SASSCAL support and sponsorships,” Ms Ngurare said adding that this contributed to the Human Resources Development Plan of Namibia.
NCRST and SASSCAL have already been collaborating on some areas before the new agreement and it is envisaged that the partnership will contribute to the attainment of not only institutional mandates but also creation of synergies for new collaborative activities.