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One Planet Fellowship takes action to discover the next generation of African climate scientists in agriculture

Farming First Farming First

The One Planet Fellowship, a $20 million initiative dedicated to supporting research on climate change adaptation, is an academic mentoring scheme which aims to support Africa’s smallholder farmers in adapting to a changing climate.

This year, One Planet Fellowship has collaborated with the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) to raise awareness and interest in the value of women engaging in research and development.

Launched at the 2017 One Planet Summit in Paris, hosted by President Emmanuel Macron, the One Planet Fellowship seeks to boost climate research in Africa.

The Fellowship aims to support the careers of 630 climate scientists throughout Africa and Europe over the next four years, by building leadership, strengthening research skills and establishing networks across different continents, disciplines and generations.

The first 45 One Planet Laureate Candidates from 12 African countries convened in Casablanca, Morocco, for a week-long training program on integrating gender issues into their research so that they can effectively respond to the challenges, needs, and priorities of diverse populations.

Fellows in the field with their mentor, 2019. Credit: African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD)

Dubbed the One Planet Fellowship Science week, this meeting also established research partnerships and networks for evidence-based advocacy for environmentally friendly policies and sustainable management practices.

In addition, the Laureate Candidates took part in a roundtable discussion, which highlighted efforts to help smallholder farmers in Africa cope with climate change. Bringing together partners and African scientists working on climate adaptation, the event showcased the progress of the Fellowship so far and its plans for expansion.

Investing in the next generation of African agricultural researchers must include learning how to place gender and social inclusion at its heart.

Africa is widely accepted to be disproportionately affected by climate change. The continent contributes less than three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but stands on the frontline of the economic and social consequences of climate change while receiving just five per cent of climate funding.

Smallholder farmers are among the most affected, with rising temperatures, changes in rainfall and extreme weather impacting food production. In North Africa, yields from farming are expected to fall as a result of reduced rainfall and declining water availability for irrigated agricultural production, in particular along the Nile River.

Doctor Wanjiru Kamau Rutenberg, Director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), at the One Planet Fellowship launch in 2019. Credit: AWARD

The new call for applications for the One Planet Fellowship will support North African climate scientists by nurturing local talent, developing home-grown solutions and supporting smallholders to cope with the intensifying effects of climate change.

The three-year Fellowship pairs early-career scientists with senior African research mentors, who support them in progressing their careers. In the second year, Laureate Candidates then have the opportunity to participate in research placements at leading European institutions, where they receive expert supervision on a mutually agreed climate research project.

In the final year of the Fellowship, the Laureate Candidates select emerging African and European scientists to mentor, creating an intergenerational mentorship chain.

The initiative aims to build a vibrant, highly connected, and intergenerational network of African and European scientist leaders, and equip them to lead research into helping Africa’s smallholder farmers adapt to climate change.

More information about the One Planet Fellowship can be found here. AWARD and France’s Agropolis Fondation are jointly implementing the Fellowship. Learn more:

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