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Excerpts from the International Climate Summit in Djibouti

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Summit panelists. Source: Ecolo in Djibouti

From October 23 to 25, 2022, the International Climate Change and Research Summit was held in Djibouti as part of the Djiboutian President’s initiative to combat climate change in Africa. The summit, organized by Djibouti’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research, brought together scientists, NGOs, researchers and policymakers from around the world to discuss the fight against climate change.

Summit panelists. Source: Ecolo in Djibouti

In addition, the conference was an opportunity to officially launch the Regional Research Observatory on Environment and Climate (ORREC), an initiative reiterating the will of the Djiboutian government to integrate the effects of climate change into public environmental policies. To this end, the summit provided a platform for national and regional focal points to dialogue on the best methods of providing climate data to better address the adverse effects of climate change on the continent.

The summit aimed to address eight thematic areas, including

  1. Climate change modeling
  2. Land use and agrosystem
  3. Water resources and management in the context of climate change
  4. Emerging diseases and biodiversity
  5. Migration, food and water system
  6. Climate change mitigation, adaptation and energy solutions
  7. Networking and capacity building
  8. Other major announcements
Fighting climate change with agroforestry in Djibouti

Speaking on this subject, an Ethiopian specialist in environmental protection, Getahun Garedew, underlined the importance of agroforestry. He explained that “this mode of cultivation, which combines trees and crops or livestock on the same plot, contributes to soil regeneration and the return of biodiversity while producing biomass and carbon storage. Thus, agroforestry can be adapted to many farming systems, but small market gardeners and other rural populations (eg Djibouti) need to improve their diets, incomes and health”.

Climate change and emerging diseases

During the “Emerging Diseases and Biodiversity” session, several researchers pointed out that human activities causing biodiversity degradation and climate change would be an important factor in the emergence of new epidemics.

Thus, Dr Bouh Abdi Khaireh, a Djiboutian medical researcher in biology, mentioned the case of Anopheles stephensi, a species of mosquito native to India and which, more recently, has also taken up residence in the Horn of Africa. Usually present in some countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, it was reported in 2012 in Djibouti and continues to spread in the region. According to Dr. Bouh, Anopheles stephensi is an excellent example of an epidemic directly linked to climatic variations that create conditions conducive to the increase in vector-borne diseases.

Additionally, research shared by Dr. Mohamed El Hamilton, Technical Officer at the World Health Organization, showed that flooding in Djibouti City in 2019 caused a 70% increase in vector-borne diseases such as malaria. He also noted that the phenomenon would likely worsen over time, hence the need for increased monitoring of incidents.

Future collaborations with the Regional Observatory for Climate Research (ORREC)

The last panel of the summit allowed the partner institutions invited to highlight the ways of a possible collaboration with ORREC. To this end, all the representatives present took advantage of this session to announce/reaffirm their support for the Regional Observatory for Climate Research. Representatives included:

  1. Raja Ali Haji Maritime University of Indonesia

On the sidelines of the summit’s opening event, the Regional Observatory for Environment and Climate Research and Raya Ali Haji University of Indonesia signed a partnership agreement to train young Djiboutian scientists on impact of global warming on oceans and coral reefs.

In his address, Dr. Omrah Agung Dhamar Syakti from the Raya Ali Haji Maritime University of Indonesia reaffirmed the importance of data in the management and prevention of climatic events. He thus praised the approach undertaken by ORREC and promised the support of the Indonesian university in the fight against the effects of climate change in the region.

Signature of the partnership between the director of ORREC, Moussa Mahdi Ahmed and Dr. Omrah Agung Dhamar Syakti of Raya Ali Haji University. Source: Ecolo in Djibouti
  1. Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)

Connect the dots between the missions of SSO and ORREC, Nadia Khammari explained the similarities between the two entities. She explained that OSS was created in 1992 in Tunis, Tunisia, with a structure similar to ORREC to work as a leader in combating desertification and adapting to climate change in the area. of the Sahara and the Sahel.

According to Nadia, assessing vulnerabilities, measuring the impacts of climate change, adjusting adaptation strategies, supporting access to finance and providing timely information are the missions of OSS, and she urges ORREC to unite its forces to strengthen development in the Horn of Africa.

  1. The Institute for Research and Development

In his speech, Dominique Dumet, representative of the IRD, recalled the long collaboration between the IRD and the Republic of Djibouti. He also presented the partnership instruments between IRD and ORREC. The French institution wants to “create centers of excellence in partner countries” like Djibouti through joint research projects, capacity building workshops and educational programs.

  1. The University of the Côte d’Azur

The vice-president of the Université Côte d’Azur, Emmanuel Tric, recalled the essential function of ORREC, which will make it possible to better predict the consequences of climate change and help decision-makers make informed decisions.

According to Emmanuel, the establishment born in January 2020 from the merger between the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis and other establishments is ready to work with ORREC and to network through co-degree and training programs. keep on going.

5. international atomic energy agency

The head of the Africa Division of the international atomic energy agency (IAEA), Adeline Djeutie, first questioned the use of existing networks such as the African Regional Cooperation Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA)

As a reminder, she noted that AFRA is a OK between several African Member States to promote cooperation among the Member States of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the region and the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. Also, Adeline Djeutie mentioned the need to intensify efforts in environmental studies and the need to involve young people as soon as possible in climate issues. Furthermore, she underlined the significant support given by her institution to the new observatory in Djibouti.

Space program with the University of Montpellier

Speaking on the partnership between the Djiboutian Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the University of Montpellier, the Quality and Development Director of the Center Spatial Universitaire de Montpellier (CSUM), Muriel Bernard, highlighted the training past and in progress.

He spoke about the recent collaboration offering ten Djiboutian students the opportunity to learn different aspects of space science and technology to set the tone for capacity development of the Djiboutian space program.

According to Muriel, the ambitious project provides the platform to design, manufacture and launch Djibouti’s first nano-satellite into orbit in 2022. “The nano-satellite will collect climate data to better understand and monitor climate change and access to water resources in Djibouti. The data from this satellite will no doubt be useful to ORREC,” he noted.

In his closing speech, the message from the Djibouti Minister of Higher Education and Research was unambiguous: the collective dynamic created must continue. He called on all stakeholders – the African Union, partner universities and Djiboutian civil society – to collaborate and create an action plan to effectively operationalize ORREC.

“The participation of all partners in the establishment of ORREC is essential to ensure its sustainability. With all the support present at this summit, there is no doubt that ORREC will be able to strengthen its capacities and extend them to the entire East African region,” he concluded.