The United Nations warns that “climate change is costing communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.”
Experts agree that the African continent is particularly vulnerable to climate change and hundreds of millions of lives are at risk of hunger and starvation if Africa is unable to feed its growing population.
Research and innovation in the agricultural sector can help Africa feed a growing population in the context of a changing climate but only if investments are made now to build a pipeline of the next generation of research scientists.
That is why African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and Agropolis Fondation supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), France’s BNP Paribas Foundation, the European Union, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) have partnered to implement the One Planet Fellowship.
The One Planet Fellowship seeks to build a vibrant, highly connected, and intergenerational network of African and European scientist leaders equipped to lead next-generation research focused on helping Africa’s smallholder farmers adapt to a changing climate.
One Planet Fellowship is a $20 million initiative dedicated to supporting research on climate change adaptation.
Announced at the One Planet Summit in 2017, The One Planet Fellowship is a career-accelerator designed to enhance the capacity of high potential agricultural researchers focused on climate change adaptation, by building their leadership, scientific research, networking, and mentoring skills.
The One Planet Fellowship brings together an intergenerational network of scientists from across Africa and Europe and contributes towards building a robust pipeline of climate science leaders.
Inspired by the AWARD Fellowship Model, One Planet Fellowship’s interventions target high potential scientists in a career acceleration process aimed at:
• Fostering Leadership Skills
• Strengthening Scientific Research Skills
• Catalyzing Research Partnerships and Networks
The Fellowship brings together an intergenerational network of scientists from across Africa and Europe; strengthens the leadership skills of emerging climate scientists from both continents; and contributes towards building a robust pipeline of climate science leaders.
Through a competitive process, high potential African agricultural researchers whose research focuses on climate change are selected. Referred to as the One Planet Laureate Candidates, these researchers are paired with more established African researchers who are carefully chosen to match their area of expertise and career goals. These are the One Planet Fellowship Mentors. These Laureate Mentor-Mentee pairs commence a year-long mentorship relationship and are supported to build a successful partnership geared toward enhancing the fellows’ career growth. The pairs are also supported to attend a variety of leadership and science research skills courses.
In the second year of the Fellowship, the Laureate Candidates select emerging African scientists and emerging European scientists to whom they serve as mentors, creating a mentorship chain of three generations of scientists.
In the third and final year of the Fellowship, the top performing One Planet Laureate Candidates are supported to enhance their research skills by participating in a research placement at a leading European research institution that has a strong emphasis and reputation for climate change science. Here, the Candidates are also carefully paired with outstanding European researchers who serve as supervisors to mutually agreed research projects aimed at strengthening a specific skill for the One Planet Fellow.
Since 2008, AWARD has, through individually tailored two-year fellowships, worked to strengthen the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science, empowering them to contribute more effectively to alleviating poverty and increasing food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the One Planet Fellowship, the AWARD Fellowship Model is scaled up and out, so that the replicability of an intervention that was originally designed to empower African women scientists is tested robustly.
The One Planet Fellowship is an opportunity for African scientists to share their context-specific knowledge with European scientists, for emerging European scientists to gain valuable exposure to the context within which scientific research is conducted on the continent, and for established scientists from Europe and Africa to invest in building the next generation of climate scientists.
Most importantly, The One Planet Fellowship will build scientists’ skills in deploying a gender lens to analyse the potential of their research to bridge the gender gap in African agriculture, especially when it comes to access to new technology.
Implementation of One Planet Fellowship is led by AWARD and Agropolis Fondation and involves several activities:
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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