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African Scientists Unite to Combat Environmental Change

In a meeting convened by the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP)'s Pan African Secretariat (PASS) together with the International Council of Science (ICSU) during 22-24 September 2005 in Nairobi, scientists from across Africa established a new regional network to promote research on global environmental change change and its consequences.

“Environmental degradation does not respect national boundaries. We need a stronger network of scientists throughout Africa if we are to properly monitor the dramatic changes occurring in the region and provide our governments and out people with the information needed to respond effectively,” said Hon. Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya Minister for Environment and Natural Resources.


The new network, known as AFRICANESS (African Network of Earth System Science), will initially focus on water and climatic modelling; desertification; land degradation, biodiversity and food security; health and pollution; and marine ecosystems.

AFRICANESS will enable African scientists to speak with a unified voice on issues of serious concern in the region. By coordinating their efforts they can more easily set collective research agendas and share data.

“This really is an important development. Similar networks in Africa have been attempted in the past but this is the first time that scientists from across Africa have been able to come together to discuss openly their needs and find a common way forward,” said Dr. Seko Toure, UNEP Regional Office for Africa.

“An important aspect of the network will be working with policy makers and social / natural scientists to ensure that the research agenda supports societal and policy needs,” said Professor Sospeter Muhongo, ICSU Regional office for Africa.

An organizing committee with broad regional representation has been established. The next step will be to procure funding for a Secretariat and infrastructure to support the network.

Pan-African START Committee on Global Environmental Change (PACOM) Meeting

Dr. Ramadjita Tabo represented DMP at the closely-related PACOM meeting which immediately preceded the above event, i.e. 19-21 September 2005 also in Nairobi.

PACOM members were updated on the development of the START (System for Analysis, Research and Training) network in Africa. START seeks to establish and foster regional networks of collaborating scientists and institutions in developing countries, and enhance their capacities in the environmental change area through a wide range of training and career development programs.

PACOM reviewed and advised on START's proposed 2006 research and capacity-building activities. It deliberated on regional water-related initiatives, providing advice on modalities for their implementation. In particular it considered multidisciplinary training on the conservation and management of freshwater ecosystems, and on GIS/remote sensing applications for environmental management.

PACOM also reviewed applications for fellowships and grants. It advised on modalities for implementing these initiatives.

With thanks to

Support for these two meetings was provided by the US National Science Foundation, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the National Research Foundation of South Africa.


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