The 28th edition of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held from November 30, 2023, to December 12, 2023, in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Commonly known as COP, the conference offered a platform for climate stakeholders to deliberate on ways to address the Triple Planetary Crisis.
Away from the high-level deliberations, pledges, and decision-making sessions, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) facilitated the participation of its Fellows, young African researchers working to develop solutions for the continents’ smallholders to cope with climate change.
Supporting the Fellows, Sofiane Boudalia, a 2020 One Planet Laureate Candidate from Algeria, and Clara Chinwoke, a 2022 AWARD Policy Fellow from Nigeria, to attend COP 28 is part of AWARD’s investment in expanding the networks of African researchers, catalyzing collaborations and enhancing their visibility.
The fellows outline an account of their participation at the Summit:
“My highlight of COP 28 was the Gender Equality Day”- Clara Chinwoke
The COP28 Gender Equality Day, co-organized by UNFCCC and the COP 28 presidency, was marked on December 4, 2023, and focused on discussions to ensure a gender-responsive just transition toward implementing the Paris Agreement.
Clara reflects on the numerous similarities and lessons she learned in Gender Mainstreaming at COP 28 from different actors across the globe. She parallels her Policy Innovation Project (PIP), an output of her participation in the Gender Responsive Agricultural Systems Policy (GRASP) Fellowship, as crucial in agricultural policy formulation and implementation.
Through her PIP, she aims to develop a gender accelerator framework to assess gender responsiveness across climate change policies and projects in Nigeria.
“I saw the relevance in my PIP that I am currently working on with my mentor when I saw similar ideas at the women and gender pavilion, such as a project by Egyptian women that aims to integrate gender into climate action in rural Egypt,” says Clara.
Clara was also invited to join a network of activists working towards gender inclusion in climate change action. “The training at AWARD has made me intentional about networking and being eager to take the lead in sharing my ideas and experience with the younger generation. This contributed to my invitation to join the network and act as a mentor toward achieving its goals.”
“I was intrigued by the many scientific innovations targeting smallholder farmers in arid and semiarid regions”- Sofiane Boudalia
Sofiane’s research revolves around strengthening and creating resilient livestock food systems. A native of Algeria, where the Sahara Desert covers about 85% of the territory, Sofiane’s research focuses on strengthening food systems in harsh environments. It becomes more apparent with the changing climatic conditions.
COP 28 was a fitting forum to learn about the latest innovations targeting agricultural development in dry areas. “One of my main aims when attending COP 28 was to scout for opportunities and learn about emerging innovations from startups working in arid food systems.”
Sofiane identifies the COP 28 Green Zone as the highlight of his experience at the Summit. The Expo area showcased emerging technological and scientific climate change adaptation and mitigation innovations.
“I interacted with a group of scientists from Japan who have developed a type of algae that can be used as animal feed in regions such as North Africa. I believe this innovation can profoundly impact smallholder farmers if adopted in Algeria and Africa to reduce the reliance on imported feeds and use of large tracts of land to produce food for livestock,” says Sofiane.
Elsewhere, Rokiatou Traore, a 2019 One Planet Laureate Candidate from Mali, attended the Summit, notably participating at the Burkina Faso pavilion. She shared her work on supporting women Moringa farmers to increase their productivity with climate-positive outcomes.
Rokiatou trains farmers in producing, processing, and packaging 100% natural Moringa-based products, which she believes will positively impact the livelihood of rural women and the youth.
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