Online course helps African experts make their mark

Sponsored content: Training materials from Future Climate for Africa have boosted African representation in the UN climate science process


The historically low participation of African experts (0.5-2%) in the review of IPCC assessment reports has been given a boost by means of an e-learning course hosted by the Future Climate for Africa program in June and July 2018.

Every 4-5 years the IPCC publishes comprehensive assessment reports on climate change, describing the scientific knowledge on climate change and ways to respond to it. These reports are intensively used as underpinning for global climate treaties (such as the Paris Agreement) and for regional climate policies. The worldwide reviews of its drafts are instrumental to achieve its high scientific standards, balance and policy relevance. So far, The African continent has been severely underrepresented in these reviews, while climate change and its responses to it are an increasingly essential issue for its development. “It’s important for African early career researchers to be reviewers of the IPCC reports… as they can identify where knowledge gaps exist from the African perspective.” Says Dr Youba Sokona, current Vice-Chair of the IPCC.

In response to this situation, the Future Climate for Africa programme (FCFA) developed a micro e-learning course to raise awareness and support interested African climate experts to get involved in the IPCC review process. The course consisted of three webinars, introducing the IPCC and best practice for review techniques.  Feedback polls showed that these webinars were well appreciated by its participants. The course also included one-to-one discussions to support prospective reviewers of two draft IPCC reports (one on Climate Change and Land, and one on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees).

360 climate experts, most from Africa, registered for the course.

121 experts participated in the live webinars and several hundred have viewed recordings of the lectures to date, indicating significant interest in the IPCC and greater participation. “By holding the e-course during the dedicated review periods of two draft IPCC reports, the course attendees could directly put in practice what they had learned. The interest and participation exceeded our expectations” said Leo Meyer, the project leader.

In total, the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land received comments from 312 reviewers worldwide, of which 50  (16%) registered to the IPCC under an African country. Half of them (24  individuals, 8%) had registered to the FCFA e-learning course. In total, this is the highest proportional participation of African experts ever in an IPCC report.

Given the strong interest shown in the course, FCFA is considering a repeat in 2019 alongside another IPCC review window. In addition to curriculum improvements, the potential repeat may also address the needs of Francophone participants to host engagements in French. In the meantime, all course resources and recorded videos can be accessed on the Future Climate for Africa website.

More information:

Dr. Leo Meyer, Project leader, ClimateContact-Consultancy Netherlands email [email protected], phone +316 520 98 568

Jean-Pierre Roux, Program manager FCFA, SouthSouthNorth, Cape Town, South Africa, email [email protected]

A full report on this project can be found here.

This post was sponsored by Future Climate for Africa.