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Southern Africa research launches – with pilot projects in cities

FRACTAL (Future Resilience for African Cities and Lands) was the first of the regional FCFA research consortia to host their kick-off, on 12-14 August, 2015. The three-day workshop was hosted in Cape Town by the consortium lead partner, the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) from the University of Cape Town. The event drew together research partners from across the collaborating FRACTAL institutions as well as representatives from the cities where FRACTAL will be working.

Over the next four years, FRACTAL’s work will be focused around three aims:

  1. To advance scientific knowledge on climate processes driving the southern African climate system’s natural variability and response to global change in historic and climate models;
  2. To improve the distillation of defensible climate information, that are informed by and tailored to urban decision making and risk management contexts; and
  3. To test the use of innovative “co-exploration” methodologies as a means to engage urban partners to integrate climate messages within real-world decisions.

With these objectives in mind, the kick-off workshop was aimed at improving collaboration between FRACTAL partners whilst finalizing operational procedures and the work plan for 2015-2016. The agenda placed a strong emphasis for participants to move out of their “comfortable home spaces” within particular disciplines, sectors and institutions into a “third space” where meaningful collaboration can flourish.

City officials from Lusaka, Windhoek and Cape Town delivered presentations to give insight to the factors and processes that shape the formulation and implementation of policies in the respective cities. Central to FRACTAL’s collaborative approach is the piloting of Learning Labs in Windhoek, Lusaka and Maputo, to open up a discussion forum through which city officials can explore the implications of climate variability and change for their urban contexts. Alongside the Learning Labs, a fulltime embedded researcher will be deployed to each of the local city governments and work alongside researchers from local university partners to offer advisory services to city governments whilst simultaneously developing their understanding of the development contexts of the cities and the interaction between climatic and non-climatic stressors in these contexts.

The remainder of the agenda largely focused on formulating project hypotheses and science questions, and developing work plans, actions and milestones.

For more information on FRACTAL partners and work, visit the FRACTAL webpage and FCFA brochure.

FRACTAL team photo

FRACTAL team photo