German Foreign Office funds research centres in Global South

Eight cross-disciplinary centres are to address world-wide challenges in a new programme launched by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The measure is being funded by the German Federal Foreign Office or Auswärtiges Amt (AA).

Four of the new ‘Global Centres’ are to engage in research and teaching on climate issues, while the other four will be focusing on health topics and pandemics. Germany’s AA is providing around €22 million (US$26 million) for the development of the centres in Asia, Africa and Latin America up to 2025.

In applying to establish the centres, German universities were able to team up with partners from countries in the Global South and with further German and international partner organisations. Each of the centres will be receiving up to €600,000 (US$722,000) in funding each year, initially up to 2025, but with options for further support up to 2030.

The centres that have been selected are to conduct interdisciplinary teaching and research and maintain close relations with science, politics, business and civil society in order to ensure the transfer of results to practical contexts. They are also intended to maintain links with one another to contribute to global solutions. Six German universities are involved.

Issues which the four centres dealing with climate and environment will be taking up include the coal phase-out in Colombia and South Africa, water security in South and Southeast Asia, conservation of the West and East African savannah regions and aspects of appropriate land use in the Jordan Valley.

The four centres focusing on health and pandemic prevention in Vietnam, Ghana/Kenya, Gabon and Cuba/Mexico will be concentrating on preventing and treating infectious diseases, with the aim of boosting the ability to prevent and treat communicable diseases at local level and improve crisis prevention, response and follow-up.

The Global Centres are to run international masters and PhD programmes as well as further education measures as part of their mission. In addition, they will facilitate international academic exchange, also among countries in the Global South.

“In times of corona[virus] and climate crisis, it is all the more important to make a cross-frontier effort to protect ourselves against pandemics and address the increasingly strong impacts of climate change,” DAAD President Joybrato Mukherjee notes. “The new Global Centres for Climate and Health facilitate the international academic exchange which we need to find solutions to challenges threatening the survival of humankind.”

Michelle Müntefering, minister of state for international cultural and education policy affairs at the Federal Foreign Office, stressed the role that the centres are to play in intensifying exchange between science, politics, the private sector and civil society.

“Such networking is one of the important objectives of foreign policy as international social policy, an aspect which is also an integral element of our science diplomacy strategy,” Müntefering explains.

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