Centre to support climate adaptation in Africa announced

In an effort to accelerate climate adaptation across Africa, Egypt will host the Cairo Centre for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience (CCLEAR).

CCLEAR was announced by Sameh Shoukry, the president of COP27 and Egypt’s foreign minister, in a speech on 11 November during an Egypt-United States joint event titled ‘Advancing Adaptation Action in Africa’ held at the 27th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) taking place in the Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh until 18 November.

The new adaptation centre will focus on developing human resources, facilitating knowledge and technology transfer and promoting the exchange of expertise – along with enhancing academic research cooperation with governments and non-governmental organisations in Africa – to tackle problems of climate adaptation.

The US will contribute US$10 million to support the launch of the centre. Details are included in a fact sheet released on 11 November by the US embassy in Egypt and entitled ‘President Biden Announces New Initiatives at COP27 to Strengthen US Leadership in Tackling Climate Change’.

“As part of our support for the Cairo Centre, we are also working with African universities and central ministries to raise awareness of climate risk and strengthen capacity to apply adaptation solutions to manage those risks, especially when it comes to fiscal policy, budgeting and planning,” the fact sheet stated.

Climate-resilient development

Professor Hamed Ead, the director of the Science Heritage Centre at Cairo University, welcomed the initiative.

“The establishment of such a centre would be one of the practical and realistic building blocks for enhancing African cooperation to face climate change impacts on the continent,” he told University World News.

“In the realm of climate change research today, we are not going to reinvent the wheel, because a lot of practical solutions are already being developed by the African and international academic community on the severity of the harm and how to fix it,” he said.

“Therefore, the new centre must work on formulating evidence-based policies along with developing a database for available innovative knowledge-based solutions to enable African countries to effectively combat climate change on the ground,” Ead added.

He is the lead author of a 2022 study entitled ‘How can Climate Change Education contribute to awareness and action in Egypt? Cairo University as a case study’.

According to him, to deliver on adaptation, the new centre must join forces with the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme (AAAP) to come up with an innovative and transformative agenda for action on adaptation, focusing on achieving a climate-resilient development towards African regional hotspots of vulnerability, whereby high systemic vulnerability combines with the severity of climate hazards.

The AAAP is an African-owned and Africa-led response to climate change.

Climate change justice hub

Salwa Thabet Mekky, professor of public administration and the director of international affairs at the Future University in Egypt, told University World News the centre could act as an African climate change justice hub to address African countries’ interests towards developing more resilient green societies; as a smart platform to disseminate awareness, promote climate literacy, advocate mitigation and adaptation policies, share success stories and transfer knowledge in Africa – especially to support the most vulnerable communities.

“In cooperation with African universities, the new adaptation centre should act as the African implementation arm for the multifaceted roles of higher education institutions to move towards sustainable green economies, which reflect the world’s new vision for growth that is expected to contribute to improving livelihoods, environmental and social well-being, and definitely achieving sustainable development.

“This could be done by the new centre through working on the key structural drivers [required] for bridging the huge cultural and technological gaps in pursuit of green economy transition, where challenges are immense,” Mekky suggested.

Structural drivers include disseminating awareness via community outreach services, especially in marginalised areas which suffer high levels of poverty and illiteracy, as well as up-scaling innovative research that is indispensable for developing sustainable technological change.

Most importantly, the centre can support green entrepreneurship and technological incubators, especially via developing linkages with industries to promote and secure clean energy technology supply chains, she added.

Mekky also emphasised the “significant” need for policy advocacy to build clean technology-based societies in Africa.

“[The] new centre and the associated African higher learning institutions should strive to go green by adopting clean energy initiatives, such as the utilisation of solar energy and recycling, hence setting themselves up as inspiring models,” said Mekky.