Prof. René Haak, Head of Division “Global Change” at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has emphasized that results provided by climate research must not remain abstract but must be processed comprehensibly and transformed into practical applications.

This was contained in his  speech at a side event dubbed “World Café- Climate Research made in West and Southern Africa”, co-organized by the West Africa Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) and the Southern Africa Regional Science Service  Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Use (SASSCAL) with support from their German partners, The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, (ZEF) at the just ended UNFCCC 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

Prof. Haak, therefore, entreated SASSCAL and WASCAL to ensure a plan in place  to build relevant capacities in this context.

He further recounted the efforts of the German Government in ensuring the smooth and sustainable operations of both centres, but challenged them to own the centres as a way of reciprocating the efforts.

“My Ministry, The German Research and Education Ministry is committed to providing SASSCAL and WASCAL with the necessary funds for consolidation. But the African partners  must own their respective centres since they were African centres and not German centres.   

He, however, requested the African partner countries to reciprocate the efforts by the German Government by fulfilling their financial commitment contributions to allow for sustainability.

“In return that our African partner countries pay their financial contributions   to giving the centres a long-term perspective: by involving them in regional cooperation structures such as ECOWAS, by linking them up with national research institutions and programmes and, of course, by providing own funding for their operation.”

Chronicling the  inception of the two organizations, Prof. Haak recalled a fruitful collaboration that had been nurtured over the years between Germany and the two centres.

“We began establishing these two centres in 2010 together with our African partners. Basically, both centres aim to strengthen research and promote the establishment of research capacities and infrastructures in the partner countries as well as enable them to draw up their own strategies and priorities for dealing with climate change and its impact.” He said.

“BMBF has given support financially but has also mobilized German researchers to enter into a partnership with their African colleagues to design those strategies and priorities. We are proud of the work done so far and encourage WASCAL and SASSCAL to double their efforts to find creative ways to sustain the funding mechanisms by being excellent, relevant and innovative in their orientation. “ Prof. Haak stated.

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) of Ghana, Honourable Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng also stated on behalf of the African partner countries that climate change was real in West Africa, especially in Ghana where nine of the ten rivers had been polluted as a result of illegal mining, also known as “Galamsey”. He, however, indicated that the establishment of WASCAL and the services it offers West Africa were very relevant.

World Café’ also witnessed a discussion session where the hundreds of participants moved to four tables to discuss issues pertaining to Climate Change in Africa.