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Building Transdisciplinary Climate Change Adaptation capacity at the University Nigeria

Project Duration: 2011 – 2013
Funder: The Open Society Foundation (OSF) of the United States of America
Contacts: Dr. Kevin Urama, Executive Director, ATPS
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Coordinating Project Liaison Officer: Dr. Nicholas Ozor
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Project Value: USD 2.31 Million

Project Description/Background
Climate Change is made up of discrepancies in the occurrence and magnitude of sporadic weather events and concomitant rise in world mean surface temperature. Perhaps, it is the most serious environmental threat facing mankind globally, essentially due to its direct and indirect impacts on virtually all sectors of the global economy. Climate change generates direct health hazards through an increase in maximum temperature leading to more intense and frequent heat waves that cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in parts of the population, particularly the aged, the sick and the urban poor. It impacts on agriculture in the length of crop cycles that lead to reduction in the quantity and quality of agricultural production, agro-related socio-economic activities, and ecological process.

The effect of climate change on countries like Nigeria is particularly of great concern due to limited capacity in resources and expertise to cope with mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation to climate change is becoming a focus in education as its science is becoming increasingly clear. There is need therefore for university education to include climate change in its curriculum as its essence is to provide leadership in research, training, innovation and sustainable development. The project aims at building capacity in research, teaching, learning and outreach at the university so as to play leading roles in climate change adaption in Nigeria and Africa.

The Challenges
To address the challenges posed by adverse climate change and climate variability on the national development efforts, there is increasing need for enhanced human, institutional and system-wide capacity building initiatives plus the provision of adequate and predictable financial and technical assistance to help countries to effectively implement adaptation and mitigation projects consistent with the national sustainable development practices (UNEP, 2008). To achieve this, the 12th Congress of the African Association of Universities (AAU), held in Abuja, April 2009, concluded that there is a need for urgent reforms in the current pedagogy, knowledge diffusion structures, mindsets of actors, reward systems, governance structures and policy frameworks for African universities to effectively engage in higher education for sustainable development including climate change adaptation.

Current pedagogies are centrally defined by university governance structures which are very hierarchical and rigid, and in most cases, discourage the culture of shared thinking and collaboration required for addressing complex system-related challenges such as global environmental change including climate change.

The different stakeholders are therefore urged to deliberate and work in trans-disciplinary manner to develop topics, courses and programmes for teaching and learning in climate change and climate change adaptation.

About the institutions
The University Of Nigeria
From the history and activities of the University of Nigeria, which was established as the first indigenous and autonomous university in Nigeria to serve as an engine of socio-economic development of the country, it is well positioned to play a leading role in climate change adaptation in Nigeria and Africa. Her population of over 20,000 undergraduates and over 5,000 postgraduates found in 15 faculties and 71 academic programmes where 82 undergraduate programmes and 211 postgraduate programmes are domiciled, properly position her to champion climate change adaption strategies.

Over the years, the university has pioneered curriculum innovation and reform in higher education, such as the introduction of the General Studies Programme, Vocational Teacher Education and the five-year Bachelor of Agriculture programme, to mention a few. There exist several courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels on weather/climate, climate change, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental management and sustainability. There are also some researches and creative works on climate change adaptation. Workshops have been organized to sensitize the university community on the need for curriculum modification to include climate change issues. Some students have been involved in outreach programmes in climate change adaptation and some staff have reasonable exposure on climate change adaptation through research ,teaching and networking. The university is strongly linked to all higher education institutions in the country and has some on-going collaborations with renowned national and international institutions in the domain of climate analysis and modelling.

The African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS)
ATPS which has a regional secretariat in Nairobi, is a multi-disciplinary network of researchers, private sector actors, policy makers and civil society actors promoting science, technology and innovation (STI) generation, use and mastery for development in Africa. Its vision is to become the leading international centre of excellence and reference in STI systems research, training and capacity building, communication and sensitization, knowledge brokerage, policy advocacy and outreach in Africa. ATPS collaborates with relevant institutions in and beyond Africa to achieve knowledge sharing and use through research and capacity building, international cooperation and partnership, youth and gender empowerment.

It acts as a broker between knowledge and technology generators, the policy makers, the private sector and the local communities on the one hand, and regions and countries on the other. Its reach-out mechanism and system include research capacity building (RCB), training and sensitization (TS), communication and stakeholder dialogue (CSD), outreach, knowledge brokerage and policy advocacy (OKBPA), international cooperation and partnership (ICP), youth and gender empowerment (YGP), and participatory mentoring and evaluation (PME). ATPS has since been involved in many funded research, capacity building and advocacy on climate change adaptation across Africa, has national chapters in African countries plus Diaspora chapters in Europe and United States of America.

The Open Society Foundation
The Open Society Foundation previously referred to as Open Society Institute is a private operating and grant making foundation. It aims at shaping public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. OSF implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media. OSF works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses. OSF was created in 1993 by investor and philanthropist George Soros to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. OSF has expanded the activities of the Soros Foundations network to other areas of the world where the transition to democracy is of particular concern. The Soros Foundations network encompasses more than 60 countries.

The Strategic Objectives
The overall purpose of this initiative is to build and up-scale the capacity for research, teaching, learning and outreach services in climate change adaptation within the University of Nigeria. Specifically the objectives are to:

  1. Assess the current climate change adaptation teaching, research and outreach at the university.
  2. Strengthening what the university offers already, with a vision to design and deliver degree programmes (BS.C, C & Ph.D) or short courses that embrace adaptation to global environmental change.
  3. Develop and strengthen relationship with other organizations and knowledge platforms on ways for sharing information.
  4. Enhance University teaching- research-community outreach and build the science-policy- practice interface of climate change adaption.
  5. Extend the initiative to benefit a wider audience and enhance the University’s visibility and capacity for dealing with climate change adaptation problems.
  6. Adapt research products into policy brief for use by governments, business and other stakeholders.
  7. Design participatory strategies and approaches for communicating and raising awareness on climate change adaption.
  8. Conduct action-oriented research for use at grassroots.
  9. Partner with civil society organizations to take the initiative forward in other fora.

Expected Outputs/Deliverables

  1. Documentation of existing climate change and climate change adaptation teaching, research and outreach activities at the University.
  2. Capacity building of some selected staff and students through trainings workshops, conference, and exchange visits.
  3. A publication of climate change adaptation mechanism in different areas of human endeavor.
  4. Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) topics, courses, programmes (certificate and degree) developed and implemented in the various faculties and Units of the University;
  5. Interactive Collaborative Environment (ICE) implemented on climate change and climate change adaptation;
  6. New partnerships established with local and international institutions, and existing ones straightened;
  7. Formation of Climate change clubs;
  8. Policymakers on education sensitized to support the curriculum review, teaching, research and outreach on climate change adaptation in universities;

The initiative extended to other universities in Nigeria to achieve a multiplier effect.


Climate Change, Agriculture & Higher Education: Multidisciplinary Issues and Perspectives