Thursday, 17 December 2015

Exploring the benefits of Science Diplomacy at the TWAS Workshop, Italy



Science diplomacy takes many forms: When nations come together to negotiate cooperative agreements on fisheries management or infectious disease monitoring, they need scientific expertise. When scientists come together for complex multi-national projects in astronomy or physics, their nations devise diplomatic agreements on management and financing. And when political relations between two nations are strained or broken, joint research efforts can give them a way to keep talking – and to build trust.
Today, the need for science diplomacy is growing. In collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences) organised a 5-day in Trieste, Italy from the 30 November to 4 December 2015 to discuss key contemporary international policy issues relating to science diplomacy and sustainable water management, including the use of shared rivers and underground aquifers, cross-border pollution issues, safe drinking water and more. The programme highlighted several key components, including how to translate scientific work into the policy arena and the role of gender in effecting improved communication of scientific works/outcomes to society.
I was inspired to discover that the director of TWAS was Prof Murenzi from Rwanda and also that there was another powerful organisation for gender advocacy called GENDERInSITE (http://www.genderinsite.net/ ) aside the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OSWD). In general, I learnt that there was the need to learn diplomacy in writing winning proposals, disseminating our research outcomes and finally to have a real-impact, not only just with scientific publishing but putting a smile on communities with our scientific work!

Dr Amos Kabo Bah is from the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Ghana and is in the final stages of completing his CIRCLE Visiting Fellowship at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Friday, 13 November 2015

CIRCLE Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Contributes to a Book Project on International Perspectives on Industrial Ecology


A Post-Doctoral Research Fellow under the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) Programme, Dr Olawale Emmanuel Olayide, shares the African Perspective in a Book Project on International Perspectives on Industrial Ecology. The Book which is written by world renowned experts in the field of industrial ecology and Dr Olayide’s contribution is contained in Chapter 3 of the Book. The chapter is entitled “Industrial Ecology, Industrial Symbiosis and Eco-Industrial Parks in Africa: Issues for Sustainable Development” (http://www.elgaronline.com/view/9781781003565.00011.xml).

International Perspectives on Industrial EcologyExtract of the Chapter
The idea of industry finding uses for non-product outputs (by-products and wastes) is not a new one (Desrochers, 2001). However, local context and incentives change with the global drive towards efficient use of resources (Deutz, 2014) and sustainable development (Posch, 2010). This contrasts with the conventional economic growth trajectories that lead to increased negative ecological impacts (Boons et al., 2011). In Africa, and indeed globally, multiple factors are bringing about a change in attitudes and making the prospects for industrial ecology (IE) more attractive. The growing scarcity of resources together with advances in technology and greater urbanisation are all heightening awareness that the time is ripe for change to more sustainable development (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2013). IE considers non-human ‘natural’ ecosystems as potential models for industrial activity and places human technological activity (industry) in the larger ecosystems that support it, examining the sources of resources used in society and the sinks that may act to absorb or detoxify wastes.

Editors and Scope of the Book
The book is edited by Pauline Deutz, Donald I. Lyons and Jun Bi and focuses on high-level policies on industrial ecology-related issues such as circular economy and industrial symbiosis. The authors combine their diverse experiences in both research and teaching to examine the topic as a business, community, and academic endeavor in different settings worldwide. The book project which started in November 2013 was completed in March 2015, and published, in print and online, on 30 October, 2015.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030 priority for Africa? Reflections from the Climate Change Dialogue

By Olga Laiza Kupika, Chinhoyi University of Technology
Cohort 1 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow

On the 12th of October 2015, I had the priviledge to attend the Climate Change dialogue on Mitigation and Perspectives from the Sustainable development goals (SDGs) at the University of South Africa. The event is part of a series of engagements towards COP21 which have been hosted by UNISA in collaboration with the US embassy. UNISA has a partnership with USAID & the US embassy in relation to climate change. The global governance has been negotiating for the past 21 years without any reasonable outcome, now all is set for COP 21.....what is Africa’s position?



Author and other CIRCLE fellows (Dr Bartlomew Itume Aleke & Dr Zelda Elum)
captured during the dialogue session

 The following presentations were made: 
  1. The key note speaker was Dr. Dan E. Arvizu a renowned energy expert from the USA , presented on “The Future of Clean Energy" 
  2. Prof Godwell Nhamo (PhD) Chief Researcher & Chair: Exxaro Chair on Business and Climate Change, ICC (my host CIRCLE supervisor) presented on Climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda

The main speaker gave insights into the historical developments on clean energy using the US as an example. The key note speakers’ main message was: “Today’s unsustainable energy system which is characterized by limited fuel diversity; subject to price volatilize; inefficient and rigid; significant carbon emissions; vulnerable delivery systems; aging infrastructure should be transformed into a future sustainable energy system characterized by diverse supply options; affordable, stable and reliable; efficient and flexible; carbon neutral; secure and resilient and more consumer driven”.  


Prof Godwell Nhamo’s key message was that Climate change poses challenges to growth and development in Africa and Adaptation will bring immediate benefits and reduce the impacts of climate change in Africa. Africa stands to benefit from integrated climate adaptation, mitigation and development approaches”. In his speech, Prof Nhamo emphasised that in the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the SDGs, other SDGs dealing with the environment e.g. 2, 4, 13, 16 and 17 hang on SDG 13 which deals with climate change. Once SDG 13 is addressed then it implies that all the other SDGs will be catered for. So which of these SDGs is the greatest priority and why? What should Africa prioritise? What do the SDGs mean for Africa which has been dubbed a “dark continent”? Will the SDGs bring the much needed light? Food for thought…..

Monday, 2 November 2015

Responsible wildlife management entails climate adaptation and mitigation

Olga Laiza Kupika, Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe
Cohort 1 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow


As part of my CIRCLE fellowship, I had the priviledge to subscribe to one of the renowned platforms for wildlife ecologists from across southern Africa, the Southern Africa Wildlife Management Association (SAWMA). SAWMA is an independent, non-profit association, founded in 1970 to promote conservation and effective management of the wildlife resources of southern Africa (http://www.sawma.co.za/).   Over the past years, SAWMA has been organising conferences based on different thematic areas. The theme of this year’s symposium was Responsible Wildlife Management: A Key to Biodiversity Conservation (http://www.sawma.co.za/sym2015.html). A large number of the talks fell under the themes of understanding and managing threats to wildlife and biodiversity, and emerging information to aid wildlife management decisions. I took the opportunity to attend this year’s conference so that I could also share my research on the threat of climate change to biodiversity. The five day event which ran from 6 to 10 September 2015 was attended by ecologists and conservationists from across Southern Africa.

In her official opening speech, the reigning president of SAWMA Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert said....“We are all aware that pressures on our biodiversity from renewable energy developments, wildlife crime including poaching, legislative developments and the impacts of increasing economic uncertainty, to name a few, mean that the need for responsible management is of key importance to ensure the protection of our wildlife resources. A critical balance needs to be struck between conservation needs and developmental imperatives, and it has therefore never before been so crucial for us to work together to tackle the knowledge gaps and identify and implement priority actions to ensure that the use of our natural resources remains sustainable in the long term.......”. This speech is closely linked to SDG 15 which highlights the need to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, & halt reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

My presentation was on “Legal and institutional frameworks for natural resources management: implications for managing threats to wildlife and biodiversity in the Middle Zambezi Biosphere Reserve, Zimbabwe”. This paper sought to answer the following questions:

1. To what extent do international, regional and national legal and institutional frameworks address such threats to biodiversity and the need for responsible wildlife management within the Middle Zambezi biosphere reserve?

2. What programmes, projects or strategies have been put in place in pursuit of the goals of sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources?


The paper evolved from secondary data gathered through review of technical reports and government publications, as well as empirical data from semi-structured questionnaires and key informant interviews of experts. Results from the study indicate that there is a need to mainstream biodiversity threats, particularly poaching, illegal harvesting of wildlife resources and climate change into local policies. National and local natural resources management institutions should be reviewed in order to integrate strategies to mitigate threats to wildlife and biodiversity. View the presentation online at: http://www.slideshare.net/OlgaLaizaKupika/presentations


Author captured during presentation
Other key note speakers included Dr Andrew Jenkins, who delivered a speech on the development of sustainability standards for renewable energy development in SA, with a particular emphasis on reducing impacts on birds. Dr Jenkins gave insights into the role and impacts of wind farms from across South Africa. This was quite interesting considering that with climate change mitigation and adaptations underway.... the quest for renewable energy options should be a priority for the wildlife sector. I guess the wildlife industry across Africa should seriously think about this! Prof Louw Hoffman gave a thought provoking presentation on changing research paradigms to face the realities in wildlife management and conservation emphasising that a major threat to wildlife management and conservation comes from the changing climate.

Considering that the African continent is endowed with a variety of wildlife flora and fauna, some of which are or might be vulnerable to climate change (few studies have documented such evidence....hence more studies are also needed). African countries must address climate change adaptation and mitigation in their national policies, wildlife management plans and research programmes as part of adaptive management.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

CIRCLE Fellowship and Travel Grants Promote Research Visibility and Networking during Global Events Held in New York, USA

Olawale Emmanuel Olayide, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria (Home Institution)
Cohort 1 Visiting Research Fellow

Introduction
This report captures the activities at the conferences, meeting, workshop, and United Nations summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during 18 September to 15 October, 2015 in New York, USA.

The Third International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD)
The third International Conference on SustainableDevelopment (ICSD) was held at the Columbia University, New York, in September. With over 1000 participants from around the world the conference aimed to identify and share practical, evidence-based solutions that could support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I participated actively as a member of the Scientific Committee and Chair of the Technical Session on Climate Change and Access to Energy and also presented a research paper titled “Review of Vulnerability and Policy Responses to Agricultural Water Supply and Extreme Rainfall Events in Nigeria” (click here for a link to the presentation). The conference offered a great opportunity for networking and sharing research experiences with other international researchers, as well as receiving feedback on research outputs. A key point emerging from the session on climate change and access to energy was the need for development (at community, regional and national levels) that favours progressive and sustainable investment in renewable sources of energy.

Olawale Olayide, CIRCLE Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Third International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD), Columbia University, New York City, USA

Special Panel on Extractive Industries and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Enhancing Collaboration for Transformation and Sustainability
The special panel session on extractive industries and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that followed the ICSD conference emphasised that the lack of prudent management of the natural resources was a major challenge limiting sustainable development of the extractive industry. The panelists concurred that the oil and gas sector should be differentiated from the mineral industry. It was also noted that the oil and gas sector is a major contributor to climate change through carbon dioxide emissions. The panel opined that renewable sources of energy should be encouraged in order to mitigate the impact of fossil fuels on the environment. The importance of the mining sector in terms of its contributions to economic growth was acknowledged, but this needs to be weighed up against the negative impacts on health and the environment. It noted that the world has a lot of untapped natural resources which could be harnessed for sustainable development. It was emphasized that research and policy frameworks should focus on such issues as reclamation, remediation and closures of mines so as to engender sustainable development in the mining sector.

The final event I attended in New York offered scholars and researchers the opportunity to present recent research findings to a global scientific audience and community of practice. The various presentations provided understanding on the behavioural, biophysical, economic, institutional, political, social and technological drivers of current and future global food security. The conference also addressed the issues of food system activities, including processing, distributing and consuming food, as well as food production from crop, livestock, tree, freshwater and marine sources; the availability, access, utilization and stability dimensions of food security; and the synergies and trade-offs between economic, environmental, health and social objectives and outcomes.

Cross-section of Participants during One of the Plenary Sessions at the Second International Conference on Global Food Security 2015 held at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

I participated actively and made a presentation titled: “What Happens When Rain Ceases to Fall? Trends, Variability and Hotspots of Rainfall, Food and Agricultural Production Indices in Nigeria Using Statistical and Geographic Information Systems Approaches”. The conference provided me with an opportunity to expand my research network with contacts in Cornell University’s research on Climate Smart Farming as well as the Food Climate Research Network of Oxford University in UK. More importantly, the global conference was facilitated by Elsevier and the journal on Global Food Security. I plan to submit the full paper presented at the conference to the journal on Global Food Security.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I profoundly acknowledge and appreciate the financial support from the Department for International Development (DfID) which was provided under the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) programme. The conducive environment for research provided the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria (Home Institution) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (Host Institution) is well cherished. I also appreciate the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium which is facilitated by the International Food Policy Research Institute, and United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network UNSDSN), for providing additional funding support.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Impacts of land tenure arrangements on the adaptive capacity of marginalized groups: Lessons from Ghana

Dr Philip Antwi-Agyei, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana
Cohort 1 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow

It is undeniable that our climate is changing. Recent evidence suggests that doing nothing about our changing climate could have serious implications for the livelihoods of many people, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change adaptation is, therefore, crucial if rural livelihoods are to survive the adverse impacts of climate change and variability. Yet, adaptation efforts by rural households are confronted with many challenges.
Philip Antwi-Agyei, Ph.D.

I recently published a paper in the journal Land Use Policy that highlights that the changing nature of land tenure in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa adversely impacts on the efforts of different social groups of farming households to initiate adaptation measures. The paper employed participatory methods to explore the linkages between land tenure arrangements and land management practices in 6 study villages of different climate vulnerability status in central and northeast Ghana. The paper sought to understand the impacts of land tenure arrangements on climate change adaptation efforts of different social groups in Ghana. The overall conclusion from the paper is that “land tenure, within the broader socioeconomic, environmental and political contexts, is implicitly involved in shaping the vulnerability of poor female and migrant farmers” to climate change in Ghana. Here, I unpack the key messages from this paper and outline policy implications.

Land tenure arrangements may impact on land management practices
Different social groups pursue different land management practices based on land tenure arrangements. The study revealed that migrant farmers who were renting their farmlands, and have insecure tenure engaged in short term land management practices. On the contrary, indigenous farmers who have inherited their farmlands employed long-term land management practices and climate adaptation practices including agro-forestry systems that have the potential to reduce their vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Secure tenure may impact on land property rights
Migrant farmers and female farmers with less secure tenure may lack property rights and are disadvantaged in sourcing credit and other facilities to initiate livelihood adaptation strategies to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

Policy implications
The paper recommends the need to institute pragmatic measures to reduce cultural discriminations against women via land reforms and restructuring to take care of the rights of women farmers. Opportunities for women to own and formalise land titles should be vigorously pursued by the Government of Ghana, whist at the same time strengthening the capacity of state institutions involved in land transactions through institutional capacity building to enable them to function effectively. Finally, the rights of migrant farmers should be formally recognised in policy documents to enable migrant farmers to initiate land-based adaptations measures in a similar manner to non-migrant farmers.

Philip explaining a point during a focus group discussion with women farmers

Reflections on CIRCLE Fellowship
It is important to stress that although this paper was developed prior to my CIRCLE fellowship, substantial revisions were made during my CIRCLE tenure. Being part of CIRCLE has brought immense benefits and further broadened my scope for research. Crucially, it has provided several platforms for networking and collaboration. For instance, it has provided opportunities for me to be part of the Climate Change Working Group at my Host Institution, the University of Ghana. Further, it has afforded me the opportunity to work with researchers from my host institution on a larger project on “women, food security and climate change in Ghana”. Other networks and collaborations have been forged with researchers from the UK and Canada on climate change and urban ecosystems as well as “Climate Smart Cities and Climate Change”. More importantly, the CIRCLE fellowship has given me opportunities to be involved in a number of publications in leading peer reviewed international journals including Land Use Policy, Environmental Science and Policy, Regional Environmental Change, Sustainability, and the Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management. Much of the collaborative research started during this fellowship is likely to provide opportunities for research into various aspects of climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptation even beyond my CIRCLE tenure.

For a copy of this paper, please see the following web page:


Philip Antwi-Agyei (Ph.D.) is a CIRCLE Fellow hosted at the University of Ghana and his Home Institution is the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.

Monday, 21 September 2015

CIRCLE Research: Contributing to Ecosystems Management, Restoration Ecology and Climate Change Mitigation

By Mrs Esther Ekua Amfoa Amoako, University for Development Studies, Ghana
Cohort 1 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow

I am a former fellow the UNU-LRT (United National University – Land Restoration Training) programme in Iceland. I have a background in Environmental Management which looks into policies and management of environmental and natural resources. I was enrolled in the six month UNU-LRT programme in 2012, which is where my interest in practicing restoration ecology began. In January 2015 I commenced the one-year CIRCLE Visiting Fellowship to further develop my research in this field.

Esther Ekua Amoako
Ecosystems management is important in climate change mitigation and adaptation. There are various forms of maintaining and improving ecosystems, mainly through conservation and preservation of species and habitats. The other forms of ecosystems management include restoration, and rehabilitation of degraded, damaged, destroyed or fragmented ecosystems.

Ecosystems degradation through deforestation, mining, bush burning, to mention but a few, create carbon sources that exacerbate the impacts of climate change. The irony is that while ecosystems degradation is a major cause of global climate change, the impact of climate change can in turn result in ecosystems degradation. When ecosystems are degraded the repercussions are enormous.

My research in the CIRCLE programme is on fire and terrestrial ecosystems management: The impact of anthropogenic bush burning on plant species and soils in West African savanna/ parklands. My focus is on the Northern Region of Ghana which is experiencing significant fragmentation of vegetation. The region which used to be categorised ecologically as the Guinea Savanna Zone is gradually transforming into Sudan Savanna (with fewer scattered trees). The result of human disturbances such as bush burning and deforestation has implications for both biodiversity and climate change.

My study is focused on measuring the density and diversity of tree species, soil seedbanks and soil nutrients under different fire management regimes. The seed bank experiment revealed a potential for natural regeneration of fire disturbed ecosystems. The soil organic carbon content is also measured and compared with tree densities on burnt and unburnt areas.

The study is contributing to the knowledge of fire in savannas in general and specifically to the Northern Region of Ghana, which has recorded higher occurrences of bush burning than the other nine regions of Ghana. It will serve as baseline information or reference for further studies, restoration of degraded lands, policies and advocacy on fire management.

Most Universities in Ghana place emphasis on issues of sustainable land management, biodiversity and conservation etc. which are more focused on the science and knowledge of environmental management. Ecological restoration, however, is the practice of restoring or rehabilitating degraded ecosystems which is what is needed most in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ghana for instance, has to buy back its diminishing (estimated at 1.3-1.7% per annum) vegetation cover and forest resources through restoration. Looking at a situation we find below calls for urgent actions from all stakeholders.


The satellite images below show the vegetation cover loss between 1973 and 2003 and anthropogenic fire active zones


Sources: Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010, Country Report, Ghana                       MODIS/ NASA 2012

A positive aspect of the CIRCLE programme is its support for networking with stakeholders: in particular sharing research information with non-acadamics and policy makers. I think the findings of my research can not be shelved but must be shared. It has a lot of policy implications  for ecosystems magement, which can be tranferred to all stakeholders. This can only be achieved through collaboration between my host and home institutions and others like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environmental NGO’s. This will surely reinforce the leadership enhancement aspect of the CIRCLE progamme.

In the long term, it is my hope and desire that indiscriminate burning will be reduced and more carbon sinks created to ensure healthy ecosystems that will contribute to mitigating climate impacts. My research is directed toward this objective and aligns firmly with the goal of the Society for Ecological Restoration.

Esther Ekua Amoako is a CIRCLE Visiting Fellow from the Unversity for Development Studies, Ghana, currently hosted at the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Outcomes of the 6th Annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit (ISDS) 2015


Preamble

2015 will see the replacement of the Millenium Development Goals with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is therefore apposite to consider promises that the SDGs hold for overcoming the various development challenges in Africa. Africa cannot afford to be left behind in the on-going global development agenda setting. The ensuing SDGs, therefore, offer another opportunity for Africa to be more proactive in ensuring sustainable development in the continent as well as progressive transformation of economies and societies. Considering the disparate achievements of many African countries in the soon to be concluded MDGs, the organisers of the 6th annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit (ISDS) considered it apt to bring to the fore the level of preparedness or otherwise of the continent and what lessons it has learnt from the MDGs, as well as the expected roles from numerous stakeholders in the sustainable development spectrum.

The Organization of the Summit, Participation, Paper Presentations and Publications

The summit was organised by the University of Ibadan Centre for Sustainable Development (UI-CESDEV) in collaboration with the African Sustainable Development Network (ASUDNET) and Sustainable Development Solutions Network- Nigeria (NSDSN). It was held during 23 – 28 August, 2015. The theme for the summit was The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda: Whither Africa?


About 230 people from 10 countries in Africa (Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria) and Europe (Italy, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom) participated at the summit. There were also representatives of Governments (including high-level delegation from the Gambia) as well as Non-Governmental Orgranisations (including the Nigerian Network of NGOs), Students and Alumni Associations. Young scholars and researchers presented papers on a range of sustainable development issues at the summit. There were two keynote addresses by Professor Godwell Nhamo of the University of South Africa (UNISA), a CIRCLE supervisor,  and Ambassador Oluseyi Onafowokan, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana. 11 plenary sessions based on the sub-themes of the summit were led by seasoned scholars. A total of 67 technical paper presentations were made. The plenary papers will be published in the summit proceedings while authors of the technical papers are advised to send the revised papers for consideration and publication in the African Journal of Sustainable Development (AJSD) (http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajsd).

Formation of Research and Working Groups

For the implementation of the SDGs, the meeting grouped the SDGs by similarity and complementarity, and proposed the following five research and working groups for the purpose of driving research, advocacy and implementation of the goals. The summit therefore, set up five research and working groups around the Sustainable Development Goals as follows:

Group 1: Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture; Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; and Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Group 2: Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all; and Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Group 3: Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Group 4: Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all; Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable; Development; Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Group 5: Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries; Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Membership of the research and working groups comprises representatives from the academia, government and non-governmental organisations and they cut across institutions, disciplines and universities. Others are encouraged to join. The groups will be expected to compete for grants, do advocacy and enlightenment, regarding the SDGs. Several participants in the groups are also involved in the CIRCLE programme, including Prof Godwell Nhamo, from the University of South Africa; Prof Labode Popoola, from the University of Ibadan; Dr Olawale Olayide from the University of Ibadan and Dr Divine Appiah, a CIRCLE Visiting Fellow currently hosted at the University of Ibadan.

Need for Collaboration

Participants emphasized the need to actualize the important goal of partnership/collaboration as key to achieving the other goals. It therefore, resolved to sustain the unity of purpose demonstrated at the meeting by the key stakeholders from the civil service, universities, research centres, NGOs, students, and the private sector. The universities in particular, were challenged to take the leadership position in the implementation process, with government, providing the needed support. The meeting also highlighted the steps taken towards actualizing a pan-Africa partnership towards achieving the SDGs by Gambian President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh’s  Pan-African commitment to Sustainable Development and support for an annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit. The Gambia President sent a powerful delegation of nine senior members in his government comprising a junior minister, permanent secretaries, Director General, and Special Assistants in the Presidency. This was viewed as exemplary, for which other African heads of government should emulate in subsequent summits.

Conclusion and Next Steps

The theme of the summit was very timely, as the summit offered a veritable platform on current debates on the sustainable development goals and underscored the role of Africa in the processes and expectations of implementation frameworks. The research and working groups are tasked with developing proposals and strategies for domesticating the Sustainable Development Goals for Africa, especially the ECOWAS region. They would also sustain the collaboration among the academia, NGOs, PSOs and governments in Africa. International support and collaboration were also emphasized as germane to achieving the SDGs. The seventh ISDS will take place in August 2016 and the theme will be determined in due course.

Labode Popoola
Director, CESDEV & Co-Director, SDSN-Nigeria

Olawale Olayide
CIRCLE Post-Doctoral Visiting Research Fellow, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Research Fellow & Coordinator, EPNARP,  CESDEV, University of Ibadan

For and on behalf of the Organisers

Friday, 4 September 2015

ILRI emerging career researchers learn to use ‘paperless’ data collection techniques

By Joyce Maru from The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya

This post is re-posted with permission thanks to Joyce Maru from The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). For the original post, please follow this link.

Emerging career researchers (ECRs) at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) were recently trained to better collect, organize and manage the data they generate during their day-to-day research activities, starting from data collection in the lab or field through to publishing of research results and archiving.


Using the Open Data Kit at ILRI Ethiopia

One of the tools introduced in the training was the Open Data Kit (ODK) which is an open-source suite of tools that helps organizations to author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. ILRI’s research activities are moving from paper-based data-collection methods to mobile-based options like ODK; therefore there’s a need to ensure that the emerging researchers who support ILRI scientists in the field are up-to-date with these new methodologies.

The combination of affordable, powerful, mobile devices (e.g. phones, tablets) and easy-to-use readily-available (open-source) software has significantly lowered the barriers to electronic-based data-collection. ODK tools are fairly easy to develop & use and help to speed up the processing for getting data ready for analysis. Furthermore these tools have the potential to decrease research costs, particularly in the long run, by using standard tools and databases and reduced cleaning time if pre-validation quality assurance has been included in the tool design.
This is the stuff that takes data collection to a new level, aids in collecting and accessing data, thus moves the cleaning work faster.
Jesse Owino, PhD fellow
The ECRs were also introduced to ILRI’s biorepository popularly known as Azizi which is a Swahili word meaning ‘precious’. ILRI biorepository is a research service unit at ILRI tasked with ensuring safe, secure and efficient storage of biological materials and their related data. The aim is to develop a collaborative network of partners who share their samples and data, by encouraging the use of common protocols and systems, creating a virtual, distributed resource for probing the diversity of African livestock. The unit currently preserves a wide range of biological materials and has over 84,000 materials which are open source and can be widely used by the research community.
Thanks to CapDev and RMG for closing the tech gap between social and physical science through this training. I feel very equipped and ready to develop my first ODK data tool!
Violet Barasa, research assistant
The training was conducted by ILRI’s Research Methods Group (RMG) working closely with ILRI’s Capacity Development Unit (CapDev) and the People and Organizational Development Unit (POD) units. Twenty two participants, including PhD and MSc fellows and early career researchers (research assistants and technicians) attended the workshop.

The course was part of an initiative to provide learning opportunities to graduate fellows and staff that include a blend of a series of “bite-size” modular courses in cross-cutting skills areas, e-learning opportunities, effective mentorship support, evidence and assessment to further enrich the their learning experience at ILRI.