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Meet the Climate Resilience Challenge Grantees

Theme: Global challenges

Commonwealth Climate Resilience Challenge Grants

Dr Jimaima Lako

Dr Jimaima Lako, Fiji National University

Dr Jimaima Lako is Associate Professor of Food Science and the Associate Dean Research of the College of Engineering, Science and Technology at Fiji National University. She obtained a PhD from Monash University, an MSc at Japan Women’s University and a BEd at The University of the South Pacific. She started her research and tertiary teaching in 1999 until 2016 at the University of the South Pacific and then at Fiji National University from 2017 to present.

Jimaima has been involved in a wide range of food science and technology and nutrition related research including diabetics dietary intervention, dietary surveys, chemical analyses, post-harvest fisheries, food safety, food security, climate change adaptation and resilience, agri-nutrition and value chain, glycemic index and response, value-addition, sensory evaluation and shelf-life testing of a number of locally grown foods. She has also been a consultant to international and regional organisations and food companies on food science and technology, nutrition and non-communicable disease-related work within the South Pacific regional communities.

Her current research includes ‘Investigating the True Incidence of Fish Poisoning in Fiji’, ‘Distribution of Harmful Algae Bloom in the Fiji waters’, ‘Climate Resilience and Challenges in the Pacific’ and ‘Fiji Food Composition Table’. She currently holds the Academia Constituents leadership of the Pacific Resilience Partnership of the Pacific Forum and helps to train and assist communities in developing resilient approaches from the impact of climate change.

Mr Tshimangadzo Justice Makhanikhe

Mr Tshimangadzo Justice Makhanikhe, University of Venda, South Africa

Mr Tshimangadzo Justice Makhanikhe is a lecturer of Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) at the University of Venda, responsible for teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students. He is responsible for the facilitation of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) for the Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge system qualification in the department of African Studies within the School of Human and Social Sciences.

Tshimangadzo’s area of expertise is IKS, International Relations and community engagement. He is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Venda doing a PhD in African Studies. He holds a Master’s degree in African Studies, Honours Degree in International Relations and a Degree in International Relations.  He has published two book chapters and three journal articles on IKS and on higher education teaching and learning.


Dr Sandeeka Mannakkara, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dr Sandeeka Mannakkara is a Lecturer in Climate Engineering in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Auckland. Her teaching and research focus on climate change adaptation, resilience, and post-disaster recovery and pre-disaster planning.

Sandeeka has had a particular interest in developing and defining the concept of ‘Building Back Better’ (BBB) in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery which has been published in her book ‘Resilient Post Disaster Recovery Through Building Back Better’ and many journal papers.  The website buildbackbetter.co.nz hosts the ongoing work being conducted on BBB.

Her current focus is on understanding and responding to the challenges of climate change such as the development of holistic climate change adaptation solutions, adapting to increasing low magnitude high frequency ‘nuisance events’, and the integration of indigenous knowledge for developing climate change adaptation solutions in New Zealand and elsewhere.

Previously, Sandeeka has worked as a structural engineer, and following this, a research fellow in the University of Auckland’s Civil Engineering department working on government-funded projects on resilience and Building Back Better.  Sandeeka has also worked as a specialist consultant for international agencies such as the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and the Agricultural Development Association, Palestine.


Maureen Reed, University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Maureen Reed is Distinguished Professor and UNESCO Chair in Biocultural Diversity, Sustainability, Reconciliation and Renewal at the University of Saskatchewan. She also serves as Assistant Director, Academic of the School of Environment and Sustainability. Reed has an internationally distinguished career in the social dimensions of sustainability. She investigates practices of governance that support the resilience and sustainability of social-ecological systems.

Her research with UNESCO biosphere reserve practitioners in Canada for the past 20 years has enhanced their capacity to achieve their mandate that includes conservation, sustainable development, and meaningful inclusion of Indigenous peoples. In forestry, Reed is one of a small number of experts in gender/diversity and forest work, management and decision-making in the global north. Recently, she and her students are addressing how diverse rural residents and resource sectors are affected by, and can work together, to address climate hazards and build resilience to climate change. This work is now being shared upon request with Canadian health research networks, government agencies, and parliamentarians.


Dr Tannecia Stephenson, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica

Dr Tannecia Stephenson is co-director of the Climate Studies Group, Mona and Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Physics at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica. Her research interests are Caribbean climate variability and change, climate extremes and statistical modelling.  She has been affiliated with a number of climate variability and change projects and has published a number of journal articles, technical reports and short monographs with collaborators.  Her work experience includes conducting research as a visiting fellow at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

Dr Stephenson has served on a number of international teams including the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) Science Advisory Team (CORDEX-SAT) and the Task Team on Guide to Climatological Practices (TT-GCP) of the World Meteorological Organization.  She is also a lead author on Chapter 10 ‘Linking global to regional climate change’ for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report.

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Theme: Global challenges