Fifteen Stellenbosch University students were officially recognised as GAUC Global Youth Ambassadors this week after they completed an intensive international programme on climate change and global climate governance.
GAUC, which stands for the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate, was established in 2019 to provide leadership in the higher education sector’s efforts to address climate change. Today it consists of 15 of the world’s leading universities from nine countries and across six continents. Stellenbosch University is the only university from Africa to participate in the alliance, through SU’s School for Climate Studies.
The students were part of a group of 150 university students from the 15 universities in the GAUC alliance to receive their certificates during the global virtual launch of the ‘Climate x Campaign‘. The aim of the Climate x Campaign is to prepare today’s youth to contribute in a systematic and sustainable way to global climate governance to reach some of the targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During the launch, Amina J. Mohammed, the United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary-General, said this is a time of enormous challenges: “Our health and well-being, peace and prosperity, and nature itself are under threat. The most pressing problems confronting nations are ultimately global in nature, and they demand global solutions. The focus of the ‘Climate x’ campaign is an excellent example of this”.
The launch of the campaign forms part of several events leading up to the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place in Egypt in November.
From 5 to 9 September 2022, the African Regional Forum on Climate will take place as a hybrid event at SU. The Forum will provide a platform for engaging across multiple institutions and stakeholders in climate change science and its applied social and policy implications in Africa.
In a video address on the first day of the Forum, Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector of Stellenbosch University, said climate change has – and will continue to have – severe consequences for Africa and its people: “We have skills and competence to tackle the most pressing issues, and a deep legacy of indigenous knowledge from which we can draw. With greater efforts to network and collaborate, we can do much more as an African academic community,” he concluded.
During the African Regional Forum, the international cohort of students will present some of their innovative approaches and solutions to climate change challenges in Africa, with a focus on SDGs such as sustainable and secure energy, finance, nature, biodiversity and food security, as well as adaptation and resilience.
The Stellenbosch University students are from the Faculties of Science, AgriSciences, Economic and Management Sciences, and the Centre for Sustainable Transitions. They are Kayleigh Murray (MSc Global Change Biology), Nosipho Gqaleni (MSc Global Change Biology), Olivia Jones (BScHons Global Change Biology), and Yenziwe Mbuyisa (MSc Global Change Biology), Dencia Machoko (MSc Food and Nutrition Security), Duduzile Ngwenya (PhD Restoration Ecology), Kgomotso Morake (MSc Conservation Ecology), Mpilo Khumalo (PhD Forest Science), Pitjo Makelle (MSc Forestry and Wood Science), Tshegofatso Tshoke (MSc Conservation Ecology), Johana Mapfumo (MPhil Environmental Management), Kauthar van Harte (PGDip Environmental Management), Renate van Rooyen (PGDip Development Finance), Yonela Mngqibisa (PGDip Environmental Management), and Willem Malherbe (PhD).
On the photo’s above: Prof Guy Midgley, interim director of the School for Climate Studies, during the launch of the ‘Climate x’ campaign, and the staff and students involved after the event that took place on Monday 5 September at SU. Photos: Anton Jordaan