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UCT’s capacity in the field of climate change is world class and arguably the largest on the African continent. This capacity is broad based, spanning all the themes of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) working groups. While strongly underpinned by research, UCT’s activities include complementary efforts on services to society for capacity building, and contribute to education through the development of new curricula and course activities.
Despite this encouraging breadth of activity, energies remained largely focused within discipline specific research groupings, although some contain multi-disciplinary elements. In short, UCT’s capacity in the broad field of global climate change has evolved largely on the back of project-based research activities and lacked integration and concomitant strengthening at the institutional level. In response to this shortcoming, the University executive, lead by the Vice Chancellor, launched the UCT African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) to bring together these, at times, disparate activities.
Interaction across the disciplines can add value to the understanding of, and response to, this complex topic. By combining the current individual strengths of researchers across the climate change disciplines, from the pure sciences through engineering and economics to the social sciences and law, the ACDI will enable improved understanding of the causes of climate change, the economic impact and the necessary policies to facilitate mitigation and adaptation. These more integrated approaches will inform education, training and our interactions with society at large.