According to the African Climate & Development Initiative (ACDI), drastic changes are required if we are going to avoid living in ‘a drastically changed world’ – however a generation of young researchers currently have the opportunity to identify leverage points to change the system.

Anna Filipova, from OneWorld, took part in ACDI’s conference for young career researchers working in climate change and development, held at UCT on 10 April. The ACDI conference aimed to create a safe space for students and young professionals to present their past and current research and receive constructive peer feedback. The conference brought together young researchers who presented their work on a large variety of subjects related to climate change adaptation. The presentations highlighted the cross-sectoral nature of climate change impacts and the need for interdisciplinary and holistic approaches to developing solutions. A common thread, echoed in Anna’s presentation, was the need for interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches in research and in addressing climate change and development issues going forward.

Anna presented preliminary results from ongoing research that OneWorld is conducting, into aspects of the politics and harmonisation related to transboundary environmental management (TEM) in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The research project is focused on identifying innovative mechanisms for enabling cooperative TEM in the region.

The research examines how environmental resources in the SADC region are coming under increasing strain from a variety of factors, such as planned development, population growth, and rising levels of urbanisation. These pressures are exacerbated by the impacts of current and projected climate change. In this context, there is a growing recognition of the need for effective transboundary resource management, which could contribute to climate resilience, peace building, and regional integration. Coordinated, cooperative action across a diverse group of individuals and organizations is needed, to reduce risks and maximise benefits that are – or can be – shared between nations.

Based on emerging results from the research, Anna explained how the OneWorld team has identified Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessments (TEIAs) as a strategic entry point for shifting the debate on transboundary resources out of the political sphere and into the technical domain, towards concrete action.

The findings suggest that if SADC were to develop a set of high-level TEIA principles, this would provide the basis of improving TEM in the SADC region and pave the way towards enhanced regional cooperation.

River basin organisations, which generally include several member states, would be the initial focal points for facilitating collaborative assessments, based on TEIA principles. This approach would enable cooperative management of river basins and their waters (and potentially other resources, such as groundwater), through activities such as data sharing and collaborative assessments, ultimately improving TEM in the region.

The research is ongoing and is expected to be finalised by the end of May 2019, when it will be submitted for peer review and journal publication.

Other presentations at the conference included an assessment of climate change impacts on grape cultivation in the Western Cape, and modelling of affordable insurance premiums for climate change adaptation.

  • About the author: Anna is a Junior Researcher at OneWorld and holds a Master’s degree in Economic Development. She provides research support for a number of projects with a focus on inclusive green growth, water security and energy security.
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