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Alex Ekwueme varsity, UNN to collaborate on climate change research, training

The Centre for Climate Change and Development (CCCD) at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike in Ebonyi State and the Institute of Climate Change Studies Energy and the Environment (ICCSEE) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in Enugu State have explored avenues on ways the two centres of excellence could partner to train a new generation of Nigerian scholars and raise the quality of research on climate change, energy, environment and sustainability in the South East region in particular and Nigeria in general.

CCCD AEFUNAI
R-L: Prof. G. Unachukwu, Prof. J. Ogbonna, Prof. F. N. Okeke, Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, and Prof. P. Phil-Eze

In a meeting which held at the conference room of the ICCSEE at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka on Thursday, September 10, 2020, the participants, all of whom are established  professors and  leading scholars in their areas of specialisation, brainstormed on options for leveraging their strengths to create a synergy in teaching, research, and innovation that will provide thought-leadership and help Nigeria to address the challenges of climate change, energy, and environmental degradation in the context of green growth and sustainable development.

Professor James C. Ogbonna, the immediate past Vice Chancellor (Academic) at UNN, said the task of training scholars and producing cutting-edge research on a wide array of climate change and sustainable development issues in Nigeria cannot be left to foreign scholars and institutions who often have their own agenda and a limited insight of the key challenges facing the country.

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He said that Nigerian scholars with their deep knowledge of the cultural context and  peculiar  socio-economic challenges of Nigeria are far better positioned to design and implement teaching and  research programme that are more likely to have on-the-ground impact.

He expressed hope that the partnership would result in solutions that will make lasting impact on promoting sustainable energy and livelihood, and economic growth in Nigeria.

The Director of ICCSEE, Professor Mrs F.N, Okeke, who is a Fellow of World Academy of Sciences, expressed excitement at the opportunity to partner with the CCCD at Alex Ekwueme Federal University. She noted  that many of the existing Masters, PGD and PhD programmes on climate change, energy and environment at UNN offer a strong basis for designing innovative programmes that can both widen and sharpen the intellectual base of Nigeria on sustainability and climate change solutions.

She said that part of the plan of ICCSEE under her leadership was to build a befitting new building complex to house the staff and students of the Institute and provide conducive environment for world-calls teaching and research. She expressed hope that the building would commence in the next couple of months.

Professor Godwin Unachukwu, the Deputy Director of the Institute, and former Director of the Energy Centre at UNN, said the establishment of the Institute represents a bold move by the University of Nigeria to integrate various existing initiatives on climate change studies, energy and environment into a consolidated institute that can be a leading provider of training and researcher on climate change, and energy research in Nigeria.

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He said there are serval instances where the risks of climate change could be addressed by the use of simple technologies and innovation that can also enhance the livelihood of the Nigerian people. He expressed hope that the partnership with CCCD FUNAI would help bring some of such innovations to limelight and promote policies to enable them achieve scale and market penetration.

On this part, the Director of CCCD at AEFUNAI, Professor Chukwumerije Okereke, said that the collaboration offers a unique platform to facilitate transformational, and policy-relevant research as well as innovative teaching, and advocacy to advance sustainable development scholarship and solutions in Nigeria and Africa more widely.

He said the collaboration was in line with the mandate of CCCD AEFUNAI to bring academics and external stakeholders in dynamic partnerships to generate and disseminate high-quality research on climate change and green economic transformation.

He said that the partnership with ICCSEE provides an opportunity to scale the efforts being made by CCCD AEFUNAI in prospecting research funding from national and international donors and said he was prepared to make available his time, resources, expertise and contacts to ensure the success of the partnership.

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Continuing, Professor Okereke said that CCCD, AEFUNAI is a product of the visionary leadership of Professor Chinedum Nwajuiba, the Vice Chancellor the university, who Okereke said is passionate to see the establishment of leading think-tanks that can provide solutions to Nigerian challenges in South East universities.

He described his return from the United Kingdom as an evidence of Professor Nwajiuba’s ability to attract global talents of Nigerian extraction to come back home and help build Nigerian universities. He said Nwajiuba’s action is worthy of emulation by other Vice Chancellors.

Professor P.O. Phil-Eze, an expert in biogeography and biodiversity, said that research and advocacy to help tackle deforestation in the South East represent one immediate and urgent need for the new partnership.

He underlined the need to intensify efforts to raise awareness of policy makers, businesses and the population at large on the dangers of climate change and that a World Symposium being organised by ICCSEE early next year would be an opportunity to present the new initiative to the wider world and possibly expand its membership to other universities.

In closing, the professors expressed their commitments to continue discussion to further elaborate on concrete ways of making the partnership a success.

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