2019•04•01 Accra, Ghana
“We cannot keep universities at the periphery if we want to create a knowledge-driven society. Universities have to be part of the cycle.” – Dr. Fatima Denton, Director, UNU-INRA
Universities, as stakeholders, significantly contribute to climate change research, train future climate leaders and also provide a platform for student associations. However, they need to be further involved in policy making and international negotiations related to climate change. Here are five ways to tap into the capabilities provided by universities, which were discussed during a session facilitated and moderated by Dr. Ambe Emmanuel Cheo (Senior Scientist), Supriya Dharkar (UNFCCC-UNU Climate Fellow) and Margaret Koli (Education Programme Associate) representing PACET team of UNU-EHS, during the recent Africa Climate Week 2019:
Universities and research institutions hold an abundance of knowledge. This knowledge needs to be communicated through unified channels to the targeted policy- and decision makers. The research being conducted can fortify decision-making, planning and implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, universities should also include strategic documents such as NAPs and the Paris Agreement as part of their curriculum to educate students and direct their thought process towards better contributing to the dialogue and decisions.
Online platforms help facilitate inter-university exchange. The framework for engagement can integrate digital platforms to facilitate events such as webinar series, online lectures, etc. to support and prepare the universities for upcoming climate initiatives.
In addition to the online training and interaction opportunities, a face-to-face engagement format during conferences is essential to engage students and professors. The platforms provided by climate conferences need to be further utilized by higher educational institutes to conduct workshops, trainings and discussions.
Limited financial resources is often a hindrance which inhibits participation from students, researchers and professors in international conferences, meetings and dialogues. More funding opportunities for people from academia are important to enable stakeholders to get their voices heard at international policy conferences.
An Academic Institute Charter for Climate Action could be a unifying factor for joint academic commitment to climate action, with overall impact in climate adaptation and mitigation. This could further encourage donor commitments to fund academic stakeholders to be engaged in climate processes.