Some years ago, I moved from my home country, Sudan, to Germany to start my Ph.D. in a cooperative program between the University of Cologne and the Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT), TH Köln, with research focuses on the interlinkages between water, food, and climate (the so-called water-food-climate nexus). Before that, I already experienced how climate change impacts are severely affecting my people in Sudan. Such impacts can be seen in the form of harsh and frequent events of climate extremes such as severe droughts leading to crop failure, heat urban islands increasing health problems and reducing labor productivity, and destructive floods threatening lives and infrastructure. With weak adaptation capacities, I saw how humans can be helpless when facing the strong forces of nature.
In my Ph.D. research, I investigated the potential synergies and trade-offs between the three systems using remote sensing technologies. Looking closely at the interactions and interlinkages between the three, I understood that improving resilience to climate change is not only crucial but also possible. Actions such as improving the socio-economic conditions of local people, adoption of advanced technologies, transferring the know-how, and mobilizing financial resources can contribute significantly to enhancing resilience to climate change. Due to the transboundary nature of climate change phenomena, facing it requires global action where everyone is involved.
With endemic poverty in Africa, lack of financial resources could be one of the most pressing challenges that hinder proper actions to adapt and mitigate climate change. I started to ask myself what are the potential sources for climate finance? How could climate finance strategies be developed? what are the instruments and mechanisms for mobilizing financial resources? what could be the incentives for the different actors to mobilize financial resources to climate actions? and how can finance be directed to green investments?
I was lucky to be one of the 50 African professionals accepted to join the first cohort of the fellowship program on Nationally Determined Contributions Financing (NDC-FFP), which is run by Frankfurt School, the African Network for Impact Research (ANIR), and the FS-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance, and funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Joining the NDC-FFP was an enlightening experience. In the program, I learned about the NDCs and their centrality in our battle against climate change, and the importance to shift towards zero-carbon and climate-resilient economies. The program offered me a great opportunity to dig deeper and find answers to my questions. The materials provided by the program are well designed, up-to-date and very informative. The program was an excellent opportunity to learn from experienced researchers who are top in the field. Besides, under the lockdowns over the COVID-19 Pandemic concerns, the virtual interaction with colleagues drawn from tens of African countries who bring rich and diverse academic and professional experiences was just amazing and contributed greatly to accelerate my learning curve.
The NDC-FFP has motivated me to move from theory to action. Bringing together all the knowledge that I gained from the program, I get convinced that everyone has a role to play. This has encouraged me to work on establishing my initiative that aims to contribute to bridging the climate action gap in Africa by facilitating knowledge transfer and by providing technical support in forms of training and capacity building, among other activities. While writing this blog, tremendous changes and aggressive climate impacts are taking place in many places around the world. Now, it is time for action – delay can be costly!