By Candice Arendse
Climate change continues to impact the world’s most vulnerable and the African continent is among the most sensitive to these impacts. In addition, the continent is overwhelmed by existing issues such as growing food and water insecurity that escalate the impacts of climate change and affect planning for resilience.
The AXA Research Fund has awarded the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) of the University of Cape Town (UCT) a research chair in African Climate Risk. AXA is a global leader in insurance and asset management and their business is to protect their clients and their assets. The AXA Research Fund was established to support scientific research on risks that threatens the socio-economic, human and environmental aspects of our world.
This significant achievement by ACDI was celebrated at a launch held on 06 April 2017 at the University of Cape Town (UCT). UCT has become the first institute in Africa to be awarded a chair, which will be held by Mark New, Director of ACDI and professor at the University.
Attendees of the launch included representatives from academic research departments and institutes, government, and the AXA delegation, all of whom were delighted at this great opportunity and eager to witness a new era in climate change research. Denis Duverne, Chairman of the Board of Directors of AXA Group warned that a 2 degrees Celsius world can be insured, but a 4 degrees rise in global temperatures is not insurable. This is a sharp reminder of the importance of the commitments made under the Paris Agreement. Noelani Menei, Research Officer in charge of environmental risks at AXA Research Fund, said that AXA was proud to be part of this project with ACDI, and was impressed by the young researchers involved in ACDI’s work. Menei emphasised that AXA wants to be an actor of change and welcomed Mark New to a community of excellent researchers.
The Fund intends to support multidisciplinary research that is focused on quantifying and understanding the changing risks related to extreme events, climate and water, and food security in southern Africa. The opportunity will enable ACDI to facilitate research that is able to predict and better understand the risks around the climate change system in South Africa, and also how to respond effectively. It will also contribute to addressing concerns about the small number of research papers produced on climate change in the global South, which UCT Vice-Chancellor Max Price raised in his opening speech at the launch.
An AXA Chair workshop was held on 07 April 2017 where discussions related to the project took place.