ACDI welcomes new director, Gina Ziervogel

19 Jul 2023 | By Michelle Shields
ACDI director, Gina Ziervogel
19 Jul 2023 | By Michelle Shields

The African Climate and Development Initiative is pleased to announce the appointment of Assoc Prof Gina Ziervogel as our new Director from the 3rd of July 2023.

As Director of ACDI, Gina will be responsible for the strategic operational management of ACDI in its role as a hub that facilitates interdisciplinary research and teaching on problems at the intersection of climate change and development.

“I believe I bring with me experience in climate governance, adaptation and transdisciplinary approaches. I have worked collaboratively on numerous topics around adaptation, vulnerability assessment, resilience and social justice as well as on urban water-related issues including drought and flood risk. It is really exciting to work with the excellent scholars at ACDI, and the diverse partners to take forward this next phase.” explains Gina Ziervogel.

Gina Ziervogel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town. She is a geographer by training, with 20 years of experience in the field of adaptation and vulnerability to global environmental change. Gina completed her PhD in Geography at the University of Oxford in 2002 after obtaining a BSc at the University of Cape Town and her Honours in Environmental Water Management at Rhodes University. Gina was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment report, Cities, settlements and key infrastructure chapter and has authored numerous papers, book chapters and popular articles. In 2020 Gina was awarded the UCT Social responsiveness award.

Gina has a successful history within ACDI, acting as principal investigator for several ACDI based projects over the last 10 years. Her research focuses on climate change adaptation and development across scales from the household to municipal level with a focus on water, urban governance and resilience issues.  Methodologically she is interested in engaged scholarship and transdisciplinary projects that bring together civil society, government and academics to address climate and sustainability problems collaboratively. A recent research project of Gina’s on Urban climate and water governance in Cape Town, funded by AXA Research, set out to acknowledge and understand the diverse perspectives on urban water resilience, at the City and neighbourhood level. A range of outputs from the project included academic papers, a book, a documentary, a comic and a mural in UCT’s subway, illustrating Gina’s commitment to sharing academic work more widely and creatively.

“Those who know Gina will, I’m sure, agree that she will be an excellent Director for ACDI.  Her scholarship on climate change issues is outstanding, she is passionate about engaged research that makes a difference, and she is super-inclusive with colleagues and stakeholders in the way she works.  ACDI is in extremely capable hands,” says Mark New, ACDI outgoing director.

Future directions at ACDI

ACDI continues to be an inter- and transdisciplinary research and training institute that brings together academics and researchers from UCT (and other higher education and research institutions) with business, civil society, and government actors. ACDI aims to facilitate and substantially extend climate change research and education at UCT with the specific context of addressing the development challenges of Africa from an African perspective.

Going forward, Gina hopes to further grow ACDI’s collaborative research, especially around climate resilience, adaptation and social justice.

“Although this is urgent work, we need to do it carefully and collaboratively to ensure we have the best chance of succeeding given the scale of the climate challenge alongside the urgent development priorities we face in southern Africa,” says Ziervogel, “I hope to continue to build the institute around understanding climate risk and resilience and taking forward responses to climate change from a systemic perspective. For me it is important that we focus on strong science and continue to build partnerships that take a systems perspective in order to support a just transition.”

Thanking our outgoing director

ACDI would like to thank our outgoing Director, Prof Mark New, for the valuable leadership provided during his time at ACDI. During his tenure as director, ACDI has seen enormous growth in research, education, and networks.

“Mark’s leadership has created a strong, vibrant ACDI doing cutting edge climate research and contributing to climate policy and practice in southern Africa. The way Mark has built the institute up over the last 12 years has been impressive when you see the breadth and depth of current projects and activities,” said Gina Ziervogel.

Mark remains a valued research associate at ACDI, with continued work with ARUA Centre of Excellence for Climate and Development, SAF-ADAPT and the Heat Adaptation Benefits for Vulnerable groups In Africa (HABVIA) project.