Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities

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1 Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities Public Health and Climate Change Heila Lotz-Sisitka Murray & Roberts Chair of Environmental Education

2 Overview Introduction to public health and climate change Public health and climate change in southern Africa Knowledge production and capacity building Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities

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4 Africa has little choice but to Learn to live with it

5 A quick introduction to public health Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals." (1920, Winslow) New public health seeks to address health inequalities by advocating for population-based policies that improve health in an equitable manner.

6 There are 2 distinct characteristics of public health: 1. It deals with preventive rather than curative aspects of health 2. It deals with population- p level, rather than individuallevel health issues

7 Emergence of public health as field of study Public health training evolved from a second degree for medical professionals to a primary public health degree with a focus on the six core disciplines of biostatistics, epidemiology, health services administration, health education, behavioural science and environmental science.

8 Direct health threats from climate change Morbidity and mortality resulting from increasing extreme events (storms, floods, increased dh heat) Increased incidence of injury and Increased incidence of injury and mortality associated with unpredictable weather conditions.

9 Some indirect effects of climate change on public health Increased mental and social stress related to changes in environment and loss of traditional lifestyle; Potential changes in bacterial and viral diseases; Decreased access to quality water sources. Changes in diet resulting from changes in subsistence species distribution and accessibility Projected warming will affect the transport, distribution and behaviour of contaminants, further threatening the safety of the traditional food supply and potentially increasing human exposure.

10 Climate change and public health is a political issue... The developing world faces greater challenges than the developed world, both in terms of the impacts of climate change and the capacity to respond to it, southern Africa perhaps p more so than other regions. There is now more confidence that global climate change is a threat to sustainable development, especially in developing countries, and could undermine global poverty alleviation efforts and have severe implications for food security, clean water, energy supply, environmental health and human settlements.

11 And an epistemological issue... The unique aspect of climate change is its upstream driver. It encompasses a risk epistemology, and requires. pro-active engagement with uncertainty. It requires a new knowledge paradigm.

12 And a complexity issue! The consequences of climate change for health range from being quite specific (e.g., heat waves) to general (e.g., increased exposure to air pollution) and from being acute in nature (e.g., infectious disease outbreaks) to longer term (e.g., changes in allergic diseases associated with shifts in aeroallergens).

13 And an issue that differs from place to place... The potential impact on human health h will differ from place to place depending on regional, and even local, differences in climate change as well as variations in health status and adaptive capacity of different populations. o Broad knowledge will not be enough we will need place- based knowledge

14 Its a linked in issue exacerbated by and influenced by other issues, affecting and influencing daily habits and practices Inadequate housing and sanitation are already important determinants of infectious disease transmission in many southern African regions climate change can exacerbate these affects. Food storage methods include above ground air- drying of fish and meat at ambient temperature, and fermentation. Changes in climate may prevent the drying of grain, fish or meat, resulting in spoilage.

15 Climate change and public health is an imbroglio Latour describes imbroglio's as those issues that defy traditional knowledge boundaries. He says that the world s most complex problems defy traditional knowledge structures, traditions and practices We need all the disciplines, and that which sits between them i.e. the relationships between the disciplines are as important as the disciplines themselves - a new knowledge paradigm

16 Is it real?

17 Disability adjusted life year

18 The impacts of climate change will exacerbate poverty in a region where already nearly 40% of the people live below the poverty datum line (SADC/ESD, 2008). Robinson and Clark (2008) Africa carries 25% of the world s disease burden yet has only 3 % of the world s health h workers and 1 % of the world s economic resources to meet that challenge.

19 The impacts of climate on water, food security, human settlements and population movements are some of the major routes through which climate change will influence human health in Southern Africa. Environmental factors play a major role in influencing these impacts.

20 As in other parts of the world climate change in As in other parts of the world climate change in Southern Africa will change environmental conditions that influence the geographical extent and transmission of climate sensitive infectious diseases.

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23 Is climate change and public health being prioritised enough? The mapping of institutions working on climate change showed that there are very few institutions tions that specialize e in climate change and health. Most institutions work on cross cutting issues of climate change with the majority of them focusing on adaptation (Dube & Chimbari, 2009).

24 BUT, something interesting is happening... It is evident from the mapping done that much It is evident from the mapping done that much of the work on climate change is done through networks. In fact there are more networks than institutions that are conducting work on climate change. (Dube & Chimbari, 2009)

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27 South Africa Zimbabwe Zambia Tanzania are producing most of the knowledge on climate change and human health BUT the issue affects all southern African countries equally (Dube & Chimbari, 2009).

28 Despite the considerable large number of institutions and networks working on climate change, there is limited published work on climate change and human health in the SADC region. The few studies conducted in the region have mainly been through some collaboration between scientists in the region and their northern counter-parts. Malaria research takes precedence, and gives a skewed perspective p as other climate sensitive diseases are neglected. (Dube & Chimbari, 2009).

29 Much of the inferences made regarding impacts of climate change in Africa, particularly with regard to health, are based on scanty data. This is more so in the case for the SADC region where there is limited past and ongoing work on climate change and human health in general. BUT Given that there are already many networks within the region efforts should be made to collaborate with those networks in order to avoid duplication of activities. (Dube & Chimbari, 2009).

30 Mostly in other places...

31 Example 1: Regional monitoring systems Linking regional monitoring systems for the purposes of sharing standardised information on climate-sensitive infectious diseases of mutual concern over larger areas. Efforts should be made to harmonise notifiable disease registries, laboratory methods and clinical surveillance definitions across administrative jurisdictions to allow comparable disease reporting and analysis. An example of such a network is the International Circumpolar Surveillance system for emerging infectious diseases. This network links hospital and public health laboratories together for the purposes of monitoring invasive bacterial diseases and tuberculosis in Arctic populations. (Parkinson & Evenga rd, 2009)

32 Example 2: Baseline research and early detection research Public health research is being conducted to determine the baseline prevalence of potential climate-sensitive infectious diseases in both human and animal hosts in regions where emergence may be expected. Such studies are used to accumulate additional evidence of the effect of climate change or weather on infectious disease emergence, to guide early detection and public health intervention strategies, and to provide science- based support for public health actions on climate change.

33 Example 3: Vulnerability assessments Some examples of research

34 Example 4: Comparative impact studies

35 Example 5: IK research

36 Other critical interventions: System development, capacity building and public education The rebuilding and maintaining of public health infrastructure is often viewed as the most important, cost-effective, and urgently needed adaptation strategy. This includes public health training, more effective surveillance and emergency response systems, and sustainable prevention and control programs. Education, awareness-raising, and the creation of legal frameworks, institutions, and an environment that enables people to take well-informed informed, long- term, sustainable decisions are also of paramount importance. (Majra et. al. 2008)

37 Where to start? Point of departure is achievement of national and sustainable development objectives, whilst simultaneously responding to climate change prevention and holistic, systemic responses Regional co-operation: There are many benefits to be derived in integrating climate change response programmes across national and regional boundaries, to serve common areas of interest and to maximise the utility of available resources.

38 Prevention Public Health Preparedness Co-benefits Broad public health approach Public education is essential

39 Frumkin and McMichael (2008) comment on the need for a reorientation of public health approaches to reflect the long time frame for action and the need for systems thinking, along with effective framing and communication and proactive leadership.

40 Finding Solutions What can be done? (Frunkin et. al, 2008)

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42 Set context relevant research priorities and frameworks

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44 What should be prioritised?

45 Develop holistic views of issues

46 Support innovations i in knowledge production and recognise uncertainty as an epistemological principle Recognition and quantification of the health consequences of climate change will be difficult, given their lack of specificity. Risk assessment methods, including burden of disease estimation, will remain central as a tool for estimating the need for implementation of adaptive strategies and for quantifying their benefits.

47 Develop social knowledge of adaptation and prevention processes

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49 Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability into African Universities Partnership (MESA)

50 What is MESA? An on the ground African network developed and maintained (with few resources) by African professors that are linked up with community contexts and issues A space for innovation, knowledge exchange and professional growth and development Started in 2004 at UNEP, still going and slowly growing particularly in SADC region, but also in East Africa and West Africa Evidence of small scale innovations in curriculum, teaching, research, community engagement, student t initiative iti and university it management

51 The Concept: ESD Change Projects in University Communities of Practice ESD Innovations Course File & Toolkit A platform for dialogue and reflection Many new ideas for action ESD Innovations in African Universities SOCIAL LEARNING PROCESS & OUTCOMES Participants A networked Resource Team Knowledge Experience learning Community Knowledge Experience

52 An initiative developed in Africa for Africa Exposure to different programmes, issues, networks and resources National University of Lesotho, University of Swaziland, University of the Western Cape, University of Malawi, U i it f B t K tt U i it S C l U i it E tt E t U i it K University of Botswana, Kenyatta University, Suez Canal University Egyptt, Egerton University Kenya, University of Zambia, UEM (Mozambique), Suez Canal University, Makarere University, United Nations University, Universtiy of Liberia, Mauritius Institute of Education, University of Kinshasa, Kigali Institute of Science & Technology National University of Rwanda Universite d Abobo-Adjame University of Nairobi Global Virtual University

53 Leadership seminars, contributions and support AU, AAU, GHESP, UNU, GVU etc.

54 Student participation Student Participation

55 What are MESA professors doing? Networking and changing their teaching and research programmes Developing experience of working in a multidisciplinary knowledge environment Dealing with imbroglio issues the ones that cross borders and the ones that defy disciplines Dealing with epistemologies that recognise uncertainty Dealing with environment and sustainable development the holistic context for dealing with issues such as climate change and public health

56 Lessons from MESA for dealing with climate change and public health Someone needs to support university professors to begin a process of engaging with new and complex issues and new ways of teaching and thinking about knowledge Regional organisations (e.g. UNEP, AAU, SARUA are well placed to do this) New knowledge resources are vital Access to networks and systems of networking are vital Crossing borders between disciplines, university and community, lecturer and student worlds is important

57 What are our universities doing? Some degree courses e.g. Bachelor of Public Health A few new courses in Health Degrees e.g. Environmental determinants of health and disease Most courses in climate change are found in the department for Geography and Environmental Sciences in the faculty of Science, not in many of the Health Faculties.

58 Research no evidence of research in health and climate change. Only one of the Masters degrees (Masters in environmental policy and planning) in the department offers a course entitled Health and the environment in which some aspects of public health and environmental health are captured and hence showing potential to capture health impacts of climate change. Need more Education for Sustainable Development research changing education models, values and approaches

59 Institutional structures E.g. Department of Environmental Health which is located in the Public Health School in the Faculty of Health Sciences MESA programmes and networks facilitating cross linkages between faculties (but this is not easy) Facilities for partnership development and structures for multi-disciplinary work Student Environment / Climate Change Forums driving inter-disciplinary conversations and actions in universities

60 Community Engagement and Social Learning Re-thinking and engaging with what can and needs to be done in practice A space for critical thinking, creativity and innovation Work integrated learning Service learning etc.

61 What still needs to be done? Need a comprehensive framework and support for mainstreaming environment and sustainability issues into Southern African Universities climate change is important but not the only issue that needs attention there are a range of inter-linked issues (e.g. Ecosystem services loss) Build on emerging momentum (e.g. MESA and other networks) need SARUA to help facilitate sub-regional linkages and momentum. SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme also working on this, but they are in FANR, not in Higher Education System. A comprehensive research and capacity building agenda that p p yb g g builds networks, deals with complexity, and that is multidisciplinary.

62 Thank you!

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