By Irene !hoaës,
Five Southern African countries and the Federal Republic of Germany last week signed a joint declaration to establish the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL).
SASSCAL’s overall goal is to strengthen regional scientific capacity to help mitigate the impact of climate change on water, land use, biodiversity/ecosystem functions and services.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research appointed specialists to assist the African partners and to develop a joint scientific concept implementation plan.
Germany will provide financial and technical support to SASSCAL over the first four years.
The SASSCAL start-up phase involves Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Angola and Zambia, with the potential to expand to the rest of SADC.
The body will have its regional secretariat in Windhoek and nodes in all participating countries. The five areas for research and training projects have been identified as climate, water, forestry, agriculture land use and biodiversity.
All partner countries reaffirmed commitment to the initiative, which is crucial to people’s livelihoods and is dependent on natural resources, threatened by climate change.
African scientists and researchers were urged to rise to the occasion and become part of the science centre.
At the signing ceremony, German Minister of Education and Research, Professor Dr Annette Schavan said the SASSCAL initiative was visible proof of Germany’s willingness to accept international responsibility and to develop solutions for tomorrow in close cooperation with its partners.
Developed countries are mostly blamed for climate change and global warming that threaten especially developing countries’ livelihoods, which are largely not responsible for the phenomenon.
“The changes with which we are confronted will have effects on the availability of natural resources, on the development of regional economies and on societies in our countries as a whole,” Schavan emphasised.
She said SASSCAL would open up new opportunities for sustainable action for future generations and the decision-makers of tomorrow.