African countries to form regional network on global environmental
Nairobi 5 October, 2005 - At a historic meeting
held in Nairobi last week, scientists from throughout
Africa called for a regional network to promote much needed
research on environmental degradation in the region.
The aim of the network, initially called AFRICANESS (African
Network of Earth System Science), is to provide a regional
platform for the study of global environmental change
(GEC), the combination of changes that are occurring throughout
the world and which are having an impact at the global
scale. Climate change is just one of the consequences
All countries are affected by GEC but some regions are
more vulnerable than others. “The combination of
poverty, political instabilities, disease and sensitive
ecosystems makes Africa one of the most vulnerable regions
in the world,” said Professor Eric Odada.
“Environmental degradation does not respect national
boundaries. We need a stronger network of scientists throughout
Africa if we are to properly monitor the dramatic changes
occurring in the region and provide our governments and
out people with the information needed to respond effectively,”
said Hon. Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya Minister for
Environment and Natural Resources.
The network will also enable African scientists to speak
with a unified voice on issues of serious concern in the
region such as desertification and dwindling water resources.
By coordinating their efforts they can more easily set
collective research agendas and share data.
The network will initially focus on:
Water and climatic modeling
Land degradation, biodiversity, and food security
Health and pollution
“An important aspect of the network will be working
with policy makers and social / natural scientists to
ensure that the research agenda supports societal and
policy needs,” said Professor Sospeter Muhongo,
ICSU Regional office for Africa.
An organizing committee with broad regional representation
has been established. The next step will be to procure
funding for a Secretariat and infrastructure to support
“This really is an important development. Similar
networks in Africa have been attempted in the past but
this is the first time that scientists from across Africa
have been able to come together to discuss openly their
needs and find a common way forward,” said Dr. Seko
Toure, UNEP Regional Office for Africa.
The meeting was organised by the Earth System Science
Partnership (ESSP) and the International Council of Science
(ICSU) with support from the US National Science Foundation,
the New Partnerships for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
and the National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa.
The Pan African Secretariat (PASS), a joint ESSP activity
on capacity building, was responsible for the logistical
organization of the event.
For more information about the Africaness proposal or
to arrange an interview please contact:
Professor Eric Odada,
Director of the Pan African Secretariat (PASS)
Kenya National Academy of Sciences
University of Nairobi
Tel: +254 2 447 740: Fax: +254 2 449 539