What's happening at GCI
News, events and opportunities
This year I had the priviledge to attend COP23 as part of a delegation from the South African business sector.
Ecologists, myself included, love nothing more than to be in places unsullied by grubby human fingerprints.
Typically, researchers, specialists and academics usually work on problems that are framed by funders, have ‘linear’ pathways to research framing, the details of which are usually decided without much consultation with ‘subjects’ of the study.
Surely, I asked myself, as scientists our job is to research and create the knowledge, sometimes teach university classes and publish in journals - which are kind of in the public domain, thank you Internet.
The previous year saw us spending a lot of time on strategic planning for the GCI, and part of this process forced us to think carefully about why we exist, what we want to achieve, and how to get there.
Academies have a rich history of scientific brilliance, but with the advent of many other bodies which do part of their former task, are academies still relevant or are they purely elitist? We chat to Professor Bob Scholes to find out more…
Prof Coleen Vogel recently returned from attending her first meeting as a scientific committee member of the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) held in Geneva.
Prof Bob Scholes recently attended the National Science and Technology Forum to discuss climate change.
Serge, GCI’s newbie is a Human Geographer, Development Planner, Sociologist and Anthropologist, specialising in the field of environmental planning and sustainability.
GCI Postdoc Dr Ferdinand Postma was awarded a 3-year Volkswagen Foundation grant in the postdoctoral fellowship program “Livelihood, Management, Reforms and Processes of Structural Change” earlier this year. He speaks to us about his journey thus far.
A hearty congratulations to GCI bursar via the Carnegie grant Rose Mugiira who graduated with a PhD!
It is grad season and GCI congratulates Dr Valentine Ochanda!
Prof Coleen Vogel's focus and research interests centre on global environmental change (GEC). In particular, she focuses on the social dimensions of GEC, working particularly on approaches that assist in understanding the complex, systems’ dimensions of GEC, particularly as these play out in the African and very local contexts (e.g. in the City of Johannesburg). Her work thus involves active engagement in a number of platforms and activities.
The GCI successfully facilitated two workshops to co-develop the Robert Bosch Stiftung grant proposal for the establishment of a Pan African Research College on Sustainable Cities.
Prof Coleen Vogel recently attended the 7th International Conference on Sustainability Science in Stockholm. The 7th International Conference on Sustainability Science in Stockholm brought together scientists from all over the world to discuss Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The GCI has the following bursary opportunity available in 2018: MSc in geography, environmental sciences or relevant Masters studies.
PhD student Ndoni Mcunu was awarded a prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship. Ndoni chats to us about what an empowering experience it was and how she plans to use the insight she gained to further propel her interests further…
According to Kamleshan Pillay, given the current state of international climate policy and the lack of ambition shown in the INDCs of countries, adaptation is going to be especially essential in the future.
The GCI in partnered with the Wits Business School formulated and hosted a PhD Bootcamp for GCI PhD students, GCI postdoctoral researchers and GCI alumni.
Young and emerging scientists have a critical role to play in planning for a sustainable and equitable future, says Mtho Moyo (MSc postgrad student).
Southern hemisphere scientists to create a transdisciplinary network.
GCI Postdoc Ferdinand Postma was selected to attend UNLEASH 2017 in Denmark.
Dams in South Africa’s Cape Town are half of what they were this time last year as the city continues to battle drought. Last year’s shortage resulted in the driest summer in 100 years.
Prof Barend Erasmus and Prof Bob Scholes attended the IPBES workshop for the thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration in Rome.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking, has in the past few decades made available the gas in previously ‘tight’ shale geologies.
In 2017, the GCI hosted a Wits Sustainability Workshop facilitated by Visiting Researcher, Dr Matthew Rich-Tolsma.
Eco-Leadership Network Workshop, Mandela Day toiletry drive, Lenn Smith Race, Wits Wellness Day, and Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative (SSLI) Launch...
How do water shortages affect business? How are businesses coping with this challenge? What are some of the opportunities that can arise? MSc student Dyani Jeram seeks to answer these questions with her research.
With rapid urbanisation occurring in Africa which is expected to continue, there is an urgent need to plan ahead to help mitigate potential challenges that may arise in the future. In this vein, the GCI together with the Wits City Institute (WCI) are hoping to establish a Pan-African Research College on sustainable cities with support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
In 2017 the GCI has continued with student engagement sessions, bringing together young talent from different disciplines to share their research and proactively engage with each other.
Olumuyiwa Adegun was with the GCI from 2014-2017. He was part of the Carnegie Corporation’s Next Generation of African Scholars Programme at GCI, and later became a postdoc at the GCI. Now he is on a new journey as a lecturer at the Federal University of Technology in Nigeria.
Dr Kaera Coetzer takes up a coordinating and lecturing post at Rhodes University.
South Africa has been considering shale gas development in the Karoo – an arid part of the country that spans more than 400 000 square kilometres – to add to its energy mix. The possibility of “fracking” in the region has provoked heated debate.
Mining as a temporary land use often leaves behind a negative legacy particularly to the mining host communities, whom are left behind with no alternative use of the land and any economic prospects. Therefore, by planning for mine closure with the ‘end-use’ of the land in mind, the mining industry in South Africa has the opportunity to realise innovative sustainable land uses and create functioning ecosystems post mine closure.
GCI’s latest newbie Hugo De Lemos has taken a break from the working world to pursue a PhD.
After four years, we ask what prompted Ruwa to return to academia. “Knowledge is a very powerful tool. A lot of the time we hear of the importance of making evidence-based decisions. But what evidence-based decisions actually means is dependent on who you are talking to. My interest lies in generating evidence that can be used to achieve sustainable development goals,” says Ruwa.
Climate change is increasingly under the spotlight. This report seeks to provide where we are in terms of climate change research capacity and outputs.
Paper writing is a critical component when pursuing an academic career. Sometimes researchers can have valuable data but sometimes fail to get published due to inconsistent argument.
It's been a bumper year for GCI thus far in terms of new and ongoing projects. To help assist on some projects, GCI hosted Professor Michel Verstraete, Dr Mutizwa Mukute and Matthew Rich-Tolsma in 2017.
Water shortages in Cape Town are here to stay. What the city can learn from others...
The use of biodiversity offsets is controversial, due to the risk of abuse, and the problems of leakage and non-additionality. The approach should therefore be applied with caution if the likelihood of positive biodiversity outcomes is to be maximised.
Earlier this year the Research Office hosted Visiting Scholar Professor Roderick Lawrence who gave a talk on “Transdisciplinary Diversity and Societal Challenges” at Wits University. Considering that GCI is pursuing a transdisciplinary agenda, GCI members were excited to hear what the Prof had to say.
GCI Postdoc David Olivier, the only African delegate at the World Symposium on Sustainability Science and Research, wins Best Paper Award.
Committed to empowering and developing young African talent, GCI is proud to introduce our new 2017 bursars: Marco, Paul and Dyani.
For a long time, researchers have been engaged in mitigation, but recently there has been a distinct shift towards pursuing adaptation. In order to tackle global change, both mitigation and adaptation approaches are needed to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
The GCI and the University of Leeds recently co-hosted a Climate Communication Workshop in Cape Town for South African and British early career researchers.
By: Wits School of Law Professor of Environmental Law Tracy-Lynn Humby
What is the future of mining? Can mining be undertaken in a sustainable manner? What impact will the closure of mines have from an economic, environmental and societal standpoint? These are some of the considerations GCI Postdoc Dr Ferdinand Postma is taking into account as he undertakes research into linking the bio economy to the mining industry.
A new name and a new look!
The national conversation about land, always simmering in South Africa, has come to the boil again. What’s often missing is a voice for the unrepresented party – the land. I’d like to be that voice, writes Professor Bob Scholes.
Catch Prof Scholes' ENCA interview on famine and drought in Africa.
Transdisciplinary research (TDR) continues to gain traction, however it is not an approach to utilise for all science research and is best reserved for complex challenges. This is one of the points that emanated from the recent International Social Science Council (ISSC) TDR Workshop in Paris.
Urban agriculture, the cultivation of crops and animals in an urban environment, is known to increase access to healthy food. It is particularly important for poorer people in cities where food is mainly accessed through cash purchases. Healthy fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive per kilogram than many of the processed foods. But these are low in fibre and high in artificial flavouring.
MSc, PhD and Postdoc opportunities at GCSRI for 2017.
Rapidly expanding settlements, dependency on land-based resources, land-degradation, drought and water shortage, disease and climate change are some of the factors threatening the livelihoods of much of the rural population of the Limpopo Province. Knowing the future would help to better plan in these areas.
Prof Coleen Vogel together with other top transdisciplinary experts recently met with 35 talented young academics (no more than 10 years post PHD experience) from 15 African countries to provide training on how to write transdisciplinary research proposals.
Distinguished Professor Bob Scholes set to champion ecosystems in the recently launched South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR).
A hearty congratulations to GCSRI PhD bursar Valentine Ochanda who received top marks at the recent CLIVAR Open Science Conference 2016 in Qingdao, China.
Collaboration across all sectors and generations needed for a sustainable future.
Prof Bob Scholes explains how Systems Ecologists view the world.
Professor Barend Erasmus – Exxaro Chair in Global Change and Sustainability; and Director GCSRI – accepts appointment to the African Climate Reality Project Advisory Board tasked with investigating strategic interventions and policy formulation relating to Climate South Africa and Southern Africa.
Climate change has largely been known as an area of concern for biophysical scientists, however to successfully address challenges we need interdisciplinary leaders.
Much of the talk around urban agriculture in Africa deals with poverty, hunger and accessing food. And rightly so, as 40% of Africa’s urban residents practice some agricultural activity. These activities include producing eggs, fruit or milk, but the majority farm vegetables.
Dr Dirk-Jan Koch, delivered a lecture entitled: “Mining and water challenges: Mitigating today’s risk and into the future”, at Wits on 11 February 2016.