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Climate Resilience Challenge Grants: advancing climate action in the Commonwealth

Published on 08 June 2021

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is delighted to announce the first five recipients of our new Commonwealth Climate Resilience Challenge Grants.

With Commonwealth universities at the forefront of action on climate change and sustainability, the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Challenge Grants are designed to support ACU members that are leading initiatives to strengthen the climate resilience of universities and enhance universities’ contribution to the resilience of communities, business and government across the world.

As we approach the major UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) later this year, this first round of grants will kick-start an inspiring and diverse range of climate action projects in universities across the Commonwealth - from sea-temperature monitoring in the coral reefs of Fiji, to preserving indigenous knowledge on climate change and adaptation in the Māori communities of New Zealand.

Meet this year's grantees and discover more about their project plans below.

Fiji National University (FNU) will undertake extensive research to develop a model of Fiji’s sea surface temperature, coral bleaching, and ciguatera fish poisoning. Existing data on these areas, plus other environmental data, will be gathered from a variety of sources including the Fiji Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Fisheries, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Reef Explorer Fiji and Fiji Meteorological Services. FNU will also identify and address any gaps in daily reef sea temperatures and coral bleaching data by deploying underwater temperature loggers funded by the grant. Upon completion of this research, the project team aims to collaborate with other Small Island States with similar climate characteristics and vulnerability as Fiji for further vital research in this area.

University of Saskatchewan, Canada will develop a post-graduate certificate in Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation that will allow the university to better contribute to the resilience of government, business, and communities. This certificate will be composed of three courses and will be available online to students or practitioners around the world. The university will also provide training for employees in government agencies, natural resource industries and small communities who are required to meet new climate action imperatives due to either new government policies, certification requirements, and public demands. The admissions portal will soon be open, with the first intake to start in autumn 2021.

The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, School of Education and the Climate Studies Group, Mona (CSGM) have developed a climate change knowledge product to increase awareness and knowledge of climate change in primary school students, and improve their ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change. The product was developed under the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme funded project ‘Resilience Strengthening to Climate Change Impacts through Youth Education in Primary Schools’. Their Commonwealth Climate Resilience Challenge Grant will be used to introduce the climate change knowledge product to teachers and students and gain their feedback. The project’s first key outcome will be a virtual evaluation seminar discussing uses of the knowledge product in the classroom and the experiences of teachers and students who have tested it. The second element will be a peer-reviewed journal publication on how teachers and students are best able to incorporate the knowledge product into the learning experience.

The University of Auckland, New Zealand will launch a project to identify New Zealand indigenous knowledge and practices related to climate change and climate change adaptation. The findings will enable academic institutions to incorporate this valuable knowledge system and pedagogy into relevant teaching curricula and research. The research team will be comprised of staff and student researchers who will conduct on-the-ground research by visiting communities and speaking to indigenous leaders. Traditional customs such as tikanga and kaupapa Māori will be followed throughout, with the researchers engaging in sequential visits over time to build trust, establish relationships and find mutual goals. The grant will also fund a research assistant to help analyse findings and produce relevant outputs and materials.

University of Venda, South Africa will develop a series of workshops to share climate change adaptation strategies and learning materials, with a target of 500 beneficiaries. As well as enhancing the teaching, learning and training of the university community, the project aims to facilitate knowledge exchange and create a platform for young people in the community to learn from older generations with experience of climate adaptation, and vice versa. The project will assist the University of Venda in building the capacity of NGOs and community groups in preparing for climate change, and boost awareness of climate change resilience, adaptation, green practices, and nature conservation. Through establishing an ecosystem of social and environmental entrepreneurship among students and community youth, the project is expected to propel the next generation of climate entrepreneurs.

Meet the Challenge Grantees

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More information

  • Open to professional and academic staff at ACU member universities, the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Challenge Grants support collaborative work focused on the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network's priority themes. 
  • Feeling inspired? Join our network for climate action.