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CSAG-CONFER Climate Risk Training School

CONFER, in partnership with the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town, is organizing a Climate Risk Training School. The intensive course aims to foster critical thinking and discussions surrounding climate risk, its various contexts, and effective management strategies.

Course dates: September 2 – 6, 2024

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

Course Overview

With climate risk as the central theme, this course aims to stimulate thinking and discussion about how climate risk is understood, what climate risk means in different contexts and how it can be managed. To this end, participants will be introduced to the climate system, the importance of energy in the climate system, climate dynamics and the understanding of hazards. Participants will also gain a better understanding of the importance of context and how this influences the manifestation of vulnerability and risk to climate hazards. Aspects of communication, behavioural change, ethics, values and choices related to climate change and risk will also be introduced.

Is this course for you?

The course is targeted at participants from countries in East Africa, specifically those included in the ICPAC and GHACOF spheres of influence. It would be beneficial for professionals and decision-makers who are grappling with decisions and/or policy development incorporating climate variability and change issues. The course is relevant to a combination of state and non-state actors using climate information in decision-making including: NMHSs, Government Departments and Ministries, City Councils and Local Municipalities, NGOs, corporate organisations, and environmental consultancies.

Course structure

The course structure has been adapted to accommodate participant learning goals and needs which are achieved by combining lectures, formal and informal discussions, interactive exercises, and group working sessions. The taught course component will be complemented by practical case study work, which will enable participants to apply their knowledge and work/network with other participants. The CONFER course will provide an opportunity for hands-on work and guidance on understanding the regional contexts of vulnerability, climate variability and change, the analysis and interpretation of climate data, and the practice of co-production of knowledge to inform the development of the science and support decision-making.

Course content

Presenters and facilitators are from both CSAG and external institutions. There will be a focus on the needs of countries in East Africa, and case studies are based on these. The course aims to address the needs of participants from these countries and understand some of their constraints whilst taking participants through the full spectrum of climate variability and climate change-related topics. These will include most, but not necessarily all, of the following:

  • An introduction to Climate Services (including the Global Framework for Climate Services), ethics, and engagement
  • Risk and vulnerability framing, approaches, and methodologies
  • Climate dynamics and theory
  • Concepts of seasonal forecast modelling
  • Overview of production/downscaling of the latest climate change projections
  • A review of ICPAC’s products
  • Information dissemination and the transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge
  • Principles of climate-resilient development and future pathways
  • Unpacking and exploring the role of climate information within planning, policy and decision making in complex socio-economic systems

Skills you will acquire:

  • Participants will contribute to and gain a better understanding of the overarching landscape of climate risk and the concepts that frame climate risk such as systems, complexity, and the risk and resilience landscape.
  • Participants will gain an understanding of key concepts associated with hazards, how hazards drive risks and will be introduced to the approaches (including processes and decisions) that are involved in understanding hazards.
  • Participants will gain a better understanding of the importance of energy in the climate system and are introduced to climate dynamics that affect risk.
  • Participants will gain an understanding of how the concepts of risk, vulnerability and adaptation have evolved over time and will be introduced to the most recent thinking related to these.
  • Participants will be exposed to a range of approaches for understanding and quantifying vulnerability and risk.
  • Participants will gain an understanding of how vulnerability and risk assessments can inform planning through co-design and co-exploration.
  • Participants will be introduced to the concept of science to society communication and the formal frameworks and techniques involved.
  • Participants will gain a better understanding of the Climate Products offered by ICPAC.

Course Dates, times etc:

Dates: Monday 2 September – Friday 6 September (Arrive Sunday 1 September, depart Friday/Saturday, depending on flight availability)

Times: 08.30-17.00 (with tea/coffee and lunch breaks)

Language: The course is conducted in English. Full competence in written and spoken English is an essential requirement.

The following costs are included:

  • Economy Flights from your closest international airport to Kigali International Airport.
  • All accommodation, breakfasts, and lunches. One gala dinner will be included.
  • Local transport in Kigali to and from the airport.
  • A per diem of approx $60pd will be provided for other dinners/meals.

The following costs are NOT included:

  • Travel insurance and health vaccinations.
  • Local transport within your country, to and from your departure airport.
  • Any extras ordered in the hotel, gratuities, personal items.
  • Other local transport in Kigali that has not been arranged by CONFER.

Please Note

*Applicants must commit to full participation in the course and associated activities and will be expected to adhere to the course rules and attendance requirements. 

Apply here

  • The Closing date for applications is 31 May 2024.
  • Only online applications submitted through the online form will be accepted.
  • An application does not guarantee a position.
  • Applications will be reviewed and shortlisted by a selection committee. 15 Positions are available to participate.
  • Successful candidates will be notified by 14 June 2024.
  • A letter of acceptance and invitation will be issued for visa purposes.

Please contact Sarika Govender for any queries or comments:

Meet the Team

Course Convener: Peter Johnston

In the CSAG Climate Services engagement team, Peter contributes to the analysis and dissemination of climate information for use in vulnerability, impacts and adaptation decision-making through short- and long-term advisory work and capacity building activities. Peter has a passion for engaging with users and stakeholders around the current state of climate information and interpreting and applying climate data in an effort to overcome the challenges of science-society communication. He has extensive experience working in the agriculture and water sectors.

Course Administrator: Sarika Govender

Sarika has a Master’s degree in Environmental Management, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and certificates in course facilitation, assessment and moderation. She has vast experience in course facilitation and enjoys interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.  Sarika is dedicated to supporting scientists to bridge the gap between the latest scientific research and influential decision-makers so that they are better able to make informed and meaningful decisions.

Course Module Team Leads (Provisional):

Alice McClure

Alice has been working at CSAG since 2016 and in the field of climate change and sustainable development since 2011. Alice’s research interests span climate risk and vulnerability, climate governance, learning, climate adaptation and African cities resilience. She has particular expertise in integrating these research foci to inform climate-resilient decision making in African cities by bringing together networks of critical players (and funders) in addressing pressing climate risks. She is passionate about working with society to produce climate-related knowledge that supports transformations towards a better future. Alice is currently studying towards a PhD, through which she is exploring the value of transdisciplinary learning processes for governing complex, emergent problems associated with African urban climate risks.

Chris Jack

Christopher is currently the deputy director of CSAG playing a key oversight and leadership role. With a first degree in computer science from UCT in 1997 and initial roles in high performance computing, he has a deep understanding of the critical computational foundations of climate science. He obtained his PhD in climate dynamics in 2011 and has contributed to innovative climate science research within the group. However, over the past 10 years Chris has built extensive experience and understanding in science-society engagement and communications and supporting decision making under uncertainty. This experience has been developed through a wide range of consulting/advisory activities as well as academic research activities in partnerships with a wide network of collaborators across Africa and internationally. Christopher was co-PI on the recent R80 million DFID/NERC funded FRACTAL project, a widely acclaimed trans-disciplinary urban climate resilience research activity working across 9 cities in southern Africa. Chris’ passion is working with and across diverse disciplines and areas of expertise in complex problem spaces, hence his current interest in urban climate resilience in developing contexts.

Piotr Wolski

Piotr is a hydrologist/climatologist with a broad interest in regional climate responses to human activities in Africa. He focuses on climate and hydrological modelling for climate projections and shorter-term forecasts.

Piotr has been actively involvement at the science-policy interface through engagement with projects such as the Future Resilience of African Cities and Lands (FRACTAL) project as well as country-specific academic and consultancy projects aimed at informing policy makers. He is actively involved in SARCOF climate service production.

Stefan Lines

Stefan leads the International Sub-Seasonal & Seasonal Outreach team at the Met Office, UK. His work is primarily focused on East Africa, through projects including H2020 CONFER and FCDO WISER, and includes building institutional capacity through workshop and training facilitation, consulting with stakeholders to understand their climate data requirements, exploration of novel forecasting techniques, and delivery of seasonal climate information services. Stefan works closely with the East Africa WMO Regional Climate Centre ‘ICPAC’ through co-delivering scientific and technical training, supporting the production of the objective seasonal forecast, and delivering the tri-annual ‘State of the Climate’ talk to GHACOF participants. With a background in numerical climate modelling, his work also spans running dynamical-downscaling (regional climate model) experiments, production of high-resolution climate projections, and climate data delivery. Prior to joining the Met Office, Stefan was an academic at the University of Exeter, running 3D global climate models of extra-solar planet atmospheres to explore cloud formation mechanisms.

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