Scientific exchange between Mittweida University of Applied Sciences and African Climate Competence network. Climate conference envisioned in Mittweida.
Climate change is not a national problem. It is a problem that can only be solved internationally. Some countries in the world are suffering more from the impact of climate change as others. However, in the fight against the impact, which is essential for survival, one should cooperate.
In future, Mittweida University of Applied Sciences will work together with the BMBF-funded African climate competence networks WASCAL (West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) and SASSCAL (Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management).
High-ranking representatives visited Saxony in June, among them the Executive Directors of WASCAL from Ghana and SASSCAL from Namibia, the Programme Director Gabin Ananou from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), as well as experts from Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Angola. Representatives of Mittweida University of Applied Sciences, their faculties and the International Office took part in the three-day scientific workshop. Two other German partner institutions were also invited to identify topics and formats for international cooperation: the University of Würzburg as a partner of WASCAL, represented by Dr. Michael Thiel and Sabine Oppmann, and the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change (ICWRGC) Koblenz, as a partner of SASSCAL, represented by Luna Bharati.
With the signing of a corresponding Memorandum of Understanding between WASCAL, SASSCAL and Mittweida University on the third day of the workshop, the common goals were fixed in a first document. The document was signed on behalf of Mittweida University of Applied Sciences by the Vice-Rector for Education, Professor Volker Tolkmitt: “No university, no matter how large, can meet the challenges of climate change alone. It will not succeed without strong partnerships. The Memorandum of Understanding opens up new opportunities for us and at the same time commits us to a partnership in two key areas: Research and Capacity Building. We look forward to the next steps, which we believe will lead to fruitful joint research initiatives.”
Mittweida University intends to participate in teaching, research and the supervision of doctoral students. Teaching opportunities and student exchanges in graduate programmes as well as joint scientific events are also conceivable. Internships abroad in Africa for students from Mittweida will be an additional opportunity. Fields where the university is contributing its expertise will be the following among others: Biodiversity and Biohydrogen (Professor Röbbe Wünschiers), Biomathematics, Statistics and Data Analysis, Population Genetics and Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (Professor Kristan Schneider) and Application of Analysis Methods to Biology and Meteorology (Professor Franka Baaske). The workshop in June also opened up the view of further fields of future cooperation, for example in the area of sustainability communication and AI-supported data analysis.
The African climate competence networks
The initiatives WASCAL (West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) and SASSCAL (Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management) have been researching solutions to the challenges of climate change in Africa and training young scientists together with German research institutions for 10 years. They do this with a focus on different graduate and research centres in eleven partner countries in Western Africa and five in Southern Africa. The focus is on topics such as sustainable land use, water supply and food security. The centres are largely funded by Germany through the BMBF.
The workshop in Mittweida was another important step on the path to cooperation. The beginnings date back a year: Dr Gabin Ananou from the project management agency from the German Aerospace Center had suggested the project during a panel discussion on the prospects for youth in Africa at the International Week in June 2021 at Mittweida University. A first discussion with WASCAL took place online shortly afterwards in September 2021. Many more followed.
The most recent workshop in Mittweida has already been followed by the first return visits from Mittweida to Africa: Professor Kristan Schneider and Dr Moumini Savadogo, Executive Director of WASCAL, met again in Ghana at the end of July. The two exchanged views on the connection between climate change and infectious diseases and on how the statistical know-how from Mittweida can flow into specific activities of WASCAL.
A week earlier, the deputy chancellor of the university, Ulrich Pietsch, visited, among others, the University of Cape Coast in Ghana and, of course, WASCAL. There he discussed with Dr. Moumini Savadogo and Professor Daouda Kone, Director Capacity Building Department, how the mutual exchange of academics and students can be organised – and not remain a one-way street, for example by having German students and doctoral candidates travel to Africa to work on research projects on site.
Prospects: Climate conference in June 2023
At the most recent meeting in Mittweida, the partners were already preparing the next one: a joint climate conference with WASCAL and SASSCAL at Mittweida University of Applied Sciences in June 2023. The first scientists from WASSCAL and SASSCAL are to give guest lectures in Mittweida in the coming winter semester. Young scientists will also spend time in Germany as part of their WASCAL scholarship in Mittweida.