First ocean acidification coordination meeting in Africa

In an effort towards coordinating an Ocean Acidification (OA) networking initative in Africa, the first coordinating meeting hosted by Warren Joubert (CSIR, South Africa) and Chibo Chikwililwa (UNam, Namibia) and facilitated by the NOAA Ocean Acidificati􏰀on Program and the Ocean Founda􏰀on was held on 20 October 2016. The mee􏰀ting comes on the back of recent training workshops held in Africa in 2015 (Cape Town) and 2016 (Mozambique and Mauri􏰀us) hosted by local and internati􏰀onal partners. A short video of the Cape Town workshop can be found here.

The meeti􏰀ng format was comprised of an interacti􏰀ve webinar with roughly 40 parti􏰀cipants, where a panel of OA researchers introduced the aim of an OA‐ Africa network and facilitated a discussion based on inputs from the par􏰀ticipants. The African countries represented included Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mauri􏰀us, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa.

The overall objec􏰀ve was to ini􏰀tiate an OA‐Africa Network, in order to coordinate and advance OA observa􏰀ons and research in Africa. Furthermore, the ambi􏰀on of the OA‐ Africa Network is to build an observati􏰀on based network of OA research, identi􏰀fy and share current research ac􏰀tivi􏰀ties and experiences, highlight potenti􏰀al training and funding opportuniti􏰀es, collaborate on research projects, expand OA observa􏰀tional and experimental capacity, promote awareness of OA acti􏰀vi􏰀ties, improve coordina􏰀tion in the region and contribute to the Global Ocean Acidificati􏰀on Observati􏰀on Network (GOA‐ ON, h􏰁p://www.goa‐on.org/) ini􏰀tia􏰀ve. Moreover, the network aims to address policy requirements supported by robust scienti􏰀fic support to inform appropriate management ac􏰀tions at nati􏰀onal and internati􏰀onal levels.

A presentati􏰀on by Cristi􏰀an Vargas of University of Concepti􏰀on, Chile, highlighted their recent experience in setti􏰂ng up the Lati􏰀n America Ocean Acidificati􏰀on Network (LAOCA). Alex Harper of NOAA Ocean Acidificati􏰀on Program also introduced the scienti􏰀fic mentoring opportuniti􏰀es for emerging OA researchers provided through Pier2Peer ini􏰀tia􏰀ve. Two such mentors (Jan Newton and Chris Sabine) were used as examples and they highlighted their scienti􏰀fic background as well as their current research interests and support for the OA‐Africa ini􏰀tia􏰀ve.

The interacti􏰀ve poll ques􏰀tions revealed that a steering commi􏰁ttee should be comprised of a representa􏰀tive from each par􏰀cipa􏰀ting country. The group showed parti􏰀cular interest in chemical observati􏰀ons and biological experimentati􏰀on, along with facilitating policy development in respec􏰀tive countries. A ques􏰀tionnaire is currently being finalised by Andrew Dickson (USA) and Sam Dupont (Sweden) under the umbrella of the IAEA INT7019 project to evaluate opportuni􏰀ties and challenges for OA research throughout Africa. It will be distributed to all parti􏰀cipants to assess the current state of research and prioriti􏰀es in the respec􏰀tive countries. An overwhelming interest in professional networking and collaborati􏰀on outweighed funding as a priority for par􏰀ticipants. Training and access to infrastructure were also identi􏰀fied as a factor inhibiti􏰀ng progress in certain countries.

Going forward, OA‐Africa aspires to foster observati􏰀onal and experimental networking opportuni􏰀ties to enhance collaborati􏰀on internally and with internati􏰀onal partners to advance ocean acidificati􏰀on research in Africa.

Joubert W., Chikwililwa C. & Dupont S., 2017. First ocean acidification coordination meeting in Africa. SANCOR Newsletter 214:10-11. Article.

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