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Thursday was an important day for the UNU delegation and staff at the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV). In the morning, the conference plenary separated into four 2.5-hour breakout sessions that focused on economic growth, human development, peace and good governance, and environmental issues.
UNU rector Konrad Osterwalder served as moderator for a segment of “Breakout Session D: Addressing Environmental issues/Climate Change” that examined issues related to “Adaptation and Disaster Prevention.” In his lead-off speech, Rector Osterwalder noted that adaptation to climate change is a crucial issue for Africa because of its particular vulnerability to climate change. He briefly introduced the major challenges the continent is facing. Rector Osterwalder highlighted what adaptation may involve, including the diversification of livelihood activities, the assessment of potential losses, and strengthening biotechnology research among others. He ended his presentation with the exhortation: “We know what we have to do, so let’s go and do it!”
Rector Osterwalder’s schedule for the day also included a meeting with the President of Namibia, a lunch reception hosted by the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, meetings with representatives from UN agencies, the afternoon TICAD IV Plenary Sessions, and an evening meeting of UN agency heads with Japanese prime minister Yaso Fukuda.
During the afternoon, the UNU convened three more official TICAD IV side events.
The first, a seminar on “Capacity Development and Policy Needs for Environment Management Technology Development in Africa”, focused on the critical need for improving relevant local capacities in a sustainable manner, particularly through higher educational opportunities as well as policies that foster the development and application of environmental management technologies.
This side event, attended by about 40 persons, featured presentations on "Waste Management in Africa — Status and Needs" by Stephen Simukanga, vice chancellor of the University of Zambia; "Knowledge, Institution and Innovation: Opportunities and Challenges in Sustainability Science" by Masaru Yarime, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo; and “Customizing Global Knowledge for Sustainable Human Capacity Development in Africa” by Sanga-Ngoie Kazadi, a professor at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University (Japan). Srikantha Herath, senior academic officer at UNU, moderated the discussion.
This was followed by a high-level panel on “Science and Technology for Africa's Sustainable Development”, which highlighted areas where Japanese and international expertise can be of direct relevance to African efforts to establish good policies and programmes that support sustainable development.
The panel comprised Calestous Juma, co-chair of the African Union’s High-Level Panel on Modern Biotechnology, and director of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Eckhard Deutscher, chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee; and Cecil Masoka, minister-counsellor for Science and Technology with the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa, Tokyo.
The event, chaired by W. Bradnee Chambers, a senior programme officer at UNU-IAS, and attended by some 70 people, also featured a report on a UNU-IAS pre-TICAD Public Forum on “Science, Technology and Innovation for a Sustainable Future: Priorities, Pathways and Partnerships for Japan and Africa” presented by Claudia ten Have, an associate fellow at UNU-IAS.
The final UNU official TICAD IV side event was a seminar that introduced the “Innovative Centre on Education Support in Africa” project, a joint initiative by the UNU and the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology that seeks to help higher education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa meet the challenges facing education systems and contribute to the development of the continent.
Professor Francisco Komlavi Seddoh, a UNU council member, delivered opening remarks and Pierre Kouraogo of the University of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and visiting professor at CICE (Hiroshima University) summarized the main findings of four papers prepared by researchers at universities in Botswana, Senegal, Ghana and Mozambique on “Policies and Reforms of Educational Systems in Africa”, “Programmes, Pedagogy and Teaching Tools”, “Research in the Field of Education in Africa” and “Training of Teachers in Africa”. The final research results of the research will be published this summer.
2008.05.28 • Wednesday marked the opening of the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), a forum aimed at promoting high-level political dialogue between Africa and its development partners. Among the nearly 2,000 persons in attendance were high-level delegations from 45 African countries (including 35 heads of state).
A delegation headed by UNU Rector Konrad Osterwalder participated in the TICAD IV Plenary Sessions. In addition, the United Nations University convened two official TICAD IV side events on Wednesday (with three more scheduled for Thursday).
In the morning, as a precursor to the Wednesday afternoon TICAD IV Plenary Sessions on “Ensuring Human Security” and “Addressing Environmental Issues/Climate Change”, the UNU held a side event to consider the connections between these two issues. This seminar, “Critical Intersection: Climate Change and Security”, examined the impact of climate change on human security, with a focus on the challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa.
In his opening remarks, UNU Rector Osterwalder noted that Africa is expected to face higher temperatures as well as lower levels of precipitation (despite a predicted increase in tropical storms) in the coming decades. Yet, Africa is the continent least prepared to deal with extreme weather events and the ensuing consequences.
The capacity audience of 70-plus then heard Christian Webersik of UNU-IAS speak on the topic “Climate Change and Armed Conflict: A New Security Threat?” He observed that “environmental security” is an emerging issue, with Africa at greater risk of losing economic income to drought than other parts of the world.
Obijiofor Aginam of the UNU Peace and Governance Programme then discussed the links between “Natural Resources and Conflict”. While noting the difficulty of confirming direct linkages between environment and security, he identified several relevant environmental factors and provided some specific geographic examples. He then discussed steps that could help to ensure a successful way forward towards achieving human security in Africa.
Brian Ngo of the OECD Africa Partnership Forum Support Unit spoke on the issue of “Climate Change and Food Security”. He discussed the causes of the incipient global food crisis, the likely impact that climate change will have on food security, and the reasons for Africa’s poor performance in achieving food security. He concluded by suggesting some short-term measures that could help the situation.
Srikantha Herath of the UNU Environment and Sustainable Development Programme then provided commentary on the presentations, and four members of the audience added brief comments or asked follow-up questions of the presenters.
The second official TICAD IV side event of the day organized by the UNU focused on the issue of education for sustainable development. In the seminar “Education for Sustainable Development: Focus on Regional Centres of Expertise in Africa”, Yoshinori Natori of UNU-IAS introduced the UNU initiative on Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs), which was developed to support the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014). He reported on the development of a global network of RCEs (which was launched with seven RCEs in 2005, and has now grown to 55 worldwide, including 10 in Africa) and discussed the roles that the RCEs can play in achieving sustainable development in Africa.
Following the presentation, the audience of some 30 persons viewed a documentary on “Addressing Environmental Issues, Risks and Associated Development Challenges in the Greater Nairobi Region”.
On Thursday, the UNU organized three official TICAD IV side events focusing on environment management technology development, science and technology for sustainable development, and innovative education support.
Photos: Curtis Christophersen and Jeremy Hedley, UNU.
Page last modified 2011.06.07.