Dear Friends of the SARUA Climate Change programme
One of our esteemed members of the Climate Change and Sustainable Development module development teams reports on the recent Unicaf University International Summer School and Conference. Dr Marirajan Thiruppathi is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) at Unicaf University in Lusaka, Zambia. Dr Thiruppathi is a team member of the Module on Climate Policies and Governance on the southern African Master’s curriculum in Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Dr Thiruppathi reports as follows.
Unicaf University recently hosted a 5-day “Spaces for Future” Summer School and Conference in partnership with Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, and the University of Vienna. The event was sponsored by Volkswagen Stiftung (i.e. VW Foundation).
The goal of the conference and summer school was to offer an interdisciplinary space for a pool of international scholars coming from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to discuss the processes and strategies to manage the transformation of rural-urban relations or linkages in Southern Africa with a particular focus on the impact of migration and climate change.
The event was officially opened by the German Ambassador to Zambia, H.E Dr Anne Wagner-Mitchell, as the guest of honour, who articulated the urgency of integrating the need of the youth in future space design decisions since the youth in Africa present a unique opportunity for development. The Vice-Chancellor of Unicaf University Federal in Cyprus, Dr Kevin Andrews, in his welcome remarks said that understanding the way rural and urban areas interact in relation to climate change and migration is crucial as it can contribute to the alignment of all systems to a New Story and to deliver on the imperatives of the UN SDGs beyond sustainability. The project leader, Professor Dr Reimer Gronemeyer, expressed his sincere gratitude for this first step of cooperation between Unicaf University and JLU Giessen.
The event attracted government officials from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the professional planners, researchers, actors and practitioners from Europe and African countries. The event included a “To See or Not to See” excursion around Lusaka to observe how rapidly rural lands are transforming into urban lands as a response to rapid urbanisation that is driving the demand for serviced land and housing. The results of the project will include a publication of concepts and theories around the topic and a research project to deepen the understanding of the process involved in rural-urban land transformation. The event was officially closed with presentation of certificates to the deserving participants by Unicaf University in Zambia Vice-Chancellor, Dr Christine Mushibwe.