Key elements of the CIRCLE programme

  • 100 CIRCLE Visiting fellowships (CVFs) will be funded over three years: 40 post-Masters and 60 post-Doctoral CVFs will be available
  • Prospective fellows will be nominated from and hosted by selected African universities and research institutions
  • The CVFs will tenable for one year and will be awarded to original and well-constructed research proposals on the impact of climate change in Africa
  • The CVFs will specifically target early career researchers
  • The programme will provide support and training to develop the institutional research capacity of participating institutions, especially in relation to their early career researchers 

The aim of the programme is to strengthen African research output within the broad field of climate change

Africa is particularly vulnerable to the environmental, social and economic impact of changes in climate and the IPCC suggests Africa is likely to emerge as the most vulnerable to climate change by 2100 (IPCC, 2007). Despite consensus on the current and future impacts of climate change on Africa, there are significant uncertainties on the exact nature of future climatic changes. A better understanding is critical to developing sustainable and cost-effective responses. However, sufficient support and resources to build a solid research base are lacking. Between 1981 and 2009 African scientists contributed less than 2% of global climate change publications. There are a number of initiatives in Africa helping to address Africa’s climate change problems, but the research community remains in need of a boost. CIRCLE will seek to facilitate the capacity of African researchers to develop relevant local solutions and improve uptake and use in local, national and regional policy and implementation. It will also enhance the output of African researchers by increased training and publications.

The programme seeks to support the emergence of centres of academic expertise in climate impacts

CIRCLE will concentrate fellowships on a select pool of African home and host institutions and complement them with institutional support. It will, therefore, directly enhance knowledge through the research Fellowships, while also providing critical support for institutions to capitalise on the skills and knowledge gained by their returning fellows. The African institutions will also receive quality assurance support on research career training from reputable advanced research institutions outside Africa.

It will align its efforts with the work of other bodies

The programme will not work in isolation, but seek to contribute to local, national and regional policy agendas and the initiatives of organisations already working in the area of climate change in Africa and those yet to come. It is important that the individual researchers and academic institutions benefitting from this programme work in conjunction with existing frameworks to maximise their impact. The aim of the programme is not simply to produce a body of research, but to strengthen the mechanisms of research uptake and support institutions to develop and realise a clearly defined strategic approach to climate change research. To support this CIRCLE launched a Research Uptake fund in August 2016, to support fellows to constructively engage with external stakeholders.

A focus on supporting early career academics

On their own, the Fellowships will have important but limited benefits. By concurrently strengthening the capacity of institutions to manage, organise and support the career development of ‘next generation’ researchers, it is intended that fellows will return to a more enabling and sustainable environment for further research. This focus acknowledges the importance of nurturing early career academics and linking them to the long-term future development of university research, while also offsetting some of the common disadvantages they face in obtaining funding and time for scientific enquiry.

Fellowships will be considered for discrete or collaborative pieces of research. It is expected that the research findings will be published in a peer reviewed journal at the end of the fellowship. The programme will select a pool of African Institutions to nominate candidates. The nominees will then be required to submit a more detailed research proposal (guided and assisted by more senior academics at their home and host institutions).

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ACUAfrican Academy of Sciences UK AID - Department for International Development

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