Excerpts from the International Climate Summit in Djibouti

Panelists at the summit. Source: Écolo à Djibouti

On October 23-25, 2022, the International Climate Change and Research Summit was held in Djibouti as part of the President of Djibouti’s initiative to combat climate change in Africa. Organized by Djibouti’s Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the summit brought together scientists, NGOs, researchers and decision-makers from around the world to discuss the fight against climate change.

Panelists at the summit. Source: Écolo à Djibouti

In addition, the conference was an opportunity to officially start Regional Research Observatory for Environment and Climate (ORREC), an initiative reaffirming the Djiboutian government’s desire to mainstream the impacts of climate change into public environmental policies. To that end, the summit provided a platform for national and regional focal points to engage in dialogue on best methods of providing climate data to better address the adverse impacts of climate change on the continent.

The summit should address eight thematic areas, including

  1. modeling of climate change
  2. Land use and agricultural system
  3. Water resources and management in the context of climate change
  4. Emerging diseases and biodiversity
  5. Migration, food and water system
  6. Climate protection, adaptation and energy solutions
  7. Networking and capacity building
  8. Other important announcements
Combating climate change with agroforestry in Djibouti

On the subject, an Ethiopian environmental protection expert, Getahun Garedew, stressed the importance of agroforestry. He explained that “this farming method, combining trees and crops or livestock on the same plot, helps regenerate soil and return biodiversity while producing biomass and carbon stocks. Therefore, agroforestry can be adapted to many agricultural systems, but small vegetable farmers and other rural populations (e.g. Djibouti) need to improve their food supply, income and health.”

Climate change and emerging diseases

During the Emerging Diseases and Biodiversity session, several researchers stressed that human activities at the root of biodiversity degradation and climate change would be a major factor in the emergence of new epidemics.

For example, mentioned Dr. Bouh Abdi Khaireh, a medical researcher in biology from Djibouti, described the case of Anopheles stephensi, a mosquito species native to India that has also more recently established itself in the Horn of Africa. Usually present in some countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, it was reported in Djibouti in 2012 and is continuing to spread in the region. according to dr Bouh, Anopheles stephensi is an excellent example of an epidemic directly related to climatic variability creating conditions conducive to growth in vector-borne diseases.

In addition, research by Dr. Mohamed El Hamilton, chief technical officer at the World Health Organization, said the 2019 floods in Djibouti City led to a 70 percent rise in vector-borne diseases such as malaria. He also pointed out that the phenomenon is likely to get worse over time, requiring increased monitoring of incidents.

Future collaboration with the Regional Observatory for Climatic Research (ORREC)

The last panel of the summit offered the invited partner institutions a way to show ways of possible cooperation with ORREC. To this end, all representatives present took advantage of this session to announce/reaffirm their support for the Regional Observatory for Climate Research. The representatives included:

  1. Raja Ali Haji Maritime University of Indonesia

On the sidelines of the summit’s opening event, the Regional Research Observatory for the Environment and Climate and Raya Ali Haji University of Indonesia signed a partnership agreement to train young Djiboutian scientists on the impact of global warming on oceans and coral reefs.

In his speech, Dr. Omrah Agung Dhamar Syakti from the Raya Ali Haji Maritime University of Indonesia on the importance of data for managing and preventing climate events. He therefore welcomed ORREC’s step and assured the Indonesian university of its support in the fight against the consequences of climate change in the region.

Signing of the partnership between ORREC Director Moussa Mahdi Ahmed and Dr. Omrah Agung Dhamar Syakti from Raya Ali Haji University. Source: Écolo à Djibouti
  1. Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)

Connecting the dots between the missions of OSS and ORREC, Nadia Khammari explained the similarities between the two entities. She discussed that the OSS was established in 1992 in Tunis, Tunisia, with a similar structure to the ORREC, to work as a leader in the fight against desertification and climate change adaptation in the Sahara and Sahel.

According to Nadia, assessing vulnerabilities, measuring climate change impacts, adapting adaptation strategies, supporting access to finance and providing timely information are the missions of the OSS, and she calls on ORREC to join forces to support development in the Horn promote from Africa.

  1. The institute for research and development

In his speech, Dominique Dumet, representative of ID, recalled the long cooperation between the IRD and the Republic of Djibouti. He also presented the partnership tools between IRD and ORREC. The French institution wants to “create centers of excellence in partner countries like Djibouti” through joint research projects, capacity-building workshops and educational programs.

  1. The University of the French Riviera

Université Côte d’Azur Vice-President Emmanuel Tric reiterated the essential role of ORREC, which will make it possible to better predict the consequences of climate change and help decision-makers to make informed decisions.

According to Emmanuel, the institution created in January 2020 from the merger of the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis and other entities is ready to collaborate with ORREC and to network through co-diploma training and professional development programs.

5. International Atomic Energy Agency

The head of the Africa division of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Adeline Djeutie, first questioned the use of existing networks such as the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA).

As a reminder, she noted that AFRA is a approval between several African member states to promote cooperation between the member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the region and the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology. In addition, Adeline Djeutie spoke about the need for increased efforts in relation to environmental studies and the need to involve young people in climate issues as early as possible. She also underlined the significant support her institution has given to the new observatory in Djibouti.

Space program with the University of Montpellier

Muriel Bernard, Director of Quality and Development at the Center Spatial Universitaire de Montpellier (CSUM), spoke about the partnership between the Djiboutian Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the University of Montpellier, highlighting the past and ongoing training.

He spoke about the recent collaboration that offers ten Djiboutian students the opportunity to learn about various aspects of space science and technology to set the tone for capacity development for Djiboutia’s space program.

According to Muriel, the ambitious project provides the platform for the development, manufacture and launch of Djibouti’s first nanosatellite into orbit in 2022. “The nanosatellite will collect climate data to better understand and monitor climate change and access to water resources in Djibouti . The data from this satellite will undoubtedly be useful for ORREC,” he noted.

In his closing speech, the message from Djibouti’s Minister of Higher Education and Research was clear: the collective momentum created must continue. He called on all stakeholders – the African Union, partner universities and civil society in Djibouti – to work together and create an action plan to effectively operationalize ORREC.

“The involvement of all partners in the creation of ORREC is essential to ensure its sustainability. With all the support that is in place at this summit, there is no doubt that ORREC will be able to strengthen its capacity and extend it to the entire East African region,” he concluded.

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