Rabat – African scientists have gathered in Casablanca for the One Planet Fellowship Science week, an event running from November 25 to December 1. The week-long event aims to promote the fellowship, form partnerships, and create advocacy networks, as well as host a roundtable discussion regarding strategies to help African smallholder farmers deal with climate change.
“The continent contributes less than 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but stands on the frontline of the economic and social consequences of climate change while receiving just 5% of climate funding … In North Africa, yields from farming are expected to fall as a result of reduced rainfall and declining water availability for irrigated agricultural production,” announced the organization in a recent press release.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched the One Planet Fellowship in 2017, with aims to utilize $19.2 million to innovate and develop climate research throughout Africa.
The 45 scientists attending the Casablanca meeting are the first to be accepted into the program; however, more are soon to join. In a press release, the One Planet Fellowship organizers unveiled their goal to fund a total of 630 scientists from Africa and Europe over the next 4 years.
The One Planet Fellowship has opened a call for applications targeting scientists under the age of 40 who have achieved a master’s degree or higher. Both Morocco and Algeria have qualified as eligible countries.
According to the press release, “the three-year Fellowship pairs early-career scientists with senior African research mentors, who support them in progressing their careers. In the second year, Laureate Candidates then have the opportunity to participate in research placements at leading European institutions, where they receive expert supervision on a mutually agreed climate research project.”
Not only do researchers have the opportunity to learn from an experienced guide, but also the chance to become one themselves. “In the final year of the Fellowship, the Laureate Candidates select emerging African and European scientists to mentor, creating an intergenerational mentorship chain.”
“The mentoring and support I have received through the Fellowship so far have been invaluable for my work,” said Dr. Austin Phiri, chief agricultural scientist at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water in Malawi and laureate candidate for the One Planet Fellowship.
“Carrying out research that will directly help farmers to deal with the impacts of climate change in my own country is truly rewarding, and I would definitely encourage other scientists to apply.”