African scientists gather in Cape Town to develop collaborative SRM research

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The Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town and the Degrees Initiative recently held a joint workshop to develop collaborative SRM research in Africa. The three-day event, supported by Dalberg Catalyst through grant funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, was organised and led by Chris Lennard and Babatunde Abiodun in partnership with Degrees. 

Scientists from eleven African projects funded by Degrees – based in Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, Mali, Benin and Ghana – joined the workshop, alongside representatives from African NGOs and scientific institutions. 

Participants at the workshop for collaborative SRM research in Africa held in Cape Town, South Africa, March 2024. Photo Credit: The Degrees Initiative

Setting the scene for efforts toward regionalisation, the event began with updates from the teams. Scientists discussed their SRM research, spanning a range of subjects including the impacts of SRM and climate change on rainfall, flooding, drought, and livestock. 

Challenges and misconceptions 

Reflecting on their research, a key theme of discussions was the major challenges for SRM research in Africa. Participants outlined numerous obstacles, such as limited access to knowledge, resources, and infrastructure (including computing hardware and software), and prohibitive costs of attending events. The lack of funding also remains a major challenge for climate science in the Global South, let alone in the field of SRM research. 

Taken together, these obstacles result in Global North perspectives dominating SRM science, with regional contexts not being adequately considered. 

Scientists are also facing misconceptions about SRM research and the modelling they are doing in their regions. As a result, the need for neutrality and an open dialogue was emphasised by participants. As Vincent Ajayi pointed out, “We are not saying that SRM is going to be beneficial, and we are not saying otherwise. We are only analysing its impacts to make informed decisions. If people can understand these impacts, they can decide whether it is a good response to climate change risks.” 

Fostering collaboration 

During the sessions, speakers also showcased positive progress in the SRM community. The importance of Degrees’ research collaborator programme and other efforts in fostering new South-South partnerships were noted as essential for building networks and sharing expertise. Chris provided examples of how scientists in the South have started to share not just ideas but also access to resources, such as computer modelling facilities, in ways which go beyond the usual North-South dynamics in climate science.   

Babatunde Abiodun discussing African SRM research during the workshop in Cape Town, March 2024. Photo Credit: The Degrees Initiative
Next steps 

The workshop concluded with participants drawing together research and collaboration priorities. Key issues included the importance of sustained funding and regular in-person meetings among African scientists, and there was broad agreement around the need to develop collaborative SRM activities in Africa. We look forward to working with the teams as they plan and coordinate the next steps. 

If the African voice is going to be an informed, powerful and loud voice in SRM research, it's going to need us working together in various collaborations."

Dr Chris Lennard

University of Cape Town

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