While the G20 talked in Pittsburgh and the 'Road to Copenhagen' is being prepared with debate on the future reduction of greenhouse gases, scientists from Africa, the University of Cambridge, and the University of California San Diego met with politicians in Cambridge at "The Global Water Initiative" (21–23 September 2009) conference to develop an urgent action plan for adaptation to the already severe impacts of regional climate change on African water supplies.

Keynote speaker, Mrs Sherry Ayittey, Honourable Minster for Environment, Science and Technology, Government of Ghana, expressed that for Africa, climate change and water availability, water quality, limitation of water hazards and wetlands preservation are not, as the West sees it, long-term scientific or technical issues, but a pressing basic human right that is closely linked with poverty alleviation and human development. Mrs Ayittey commented: "In this inter-connected world the developed world needs to embrace the problems the developing world is facing now."

Among the critical priorities identified at the meeting was the need to swiftly deploy today's technology to enable data sharing between Africa and the West. In particular to facilitate the exchange of scientific knowledge among African scientists familiar with Africa's problems, empowering them to help their local communities adapt to climate variability. The proposed development of locally tailored internet products for farmers and decision makers, with built in feedback, could see the first application of Web 2.0 in Africa.

Lord Julian Hunt, Associate Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Energy Studies (CCES) at Cambridge University's Judge Business School and formerly Director General of UK Meteorological Office, commented: "Africa's situation is set to worsen as global average temperatures are again rising. The country's adaptation needs a human focus and it needs to change dramatically as the environment, population and climate changes. In order to adapt quickly, farmers and communities must track their local climate and communicate this to the scientific community, governments and regional agencies, especially where change is rapid and severe. Likewise, scientists and decision makers must form new regional links to better translate scientific findings to support rapid action by policy makers."

The conference highlighted the pressing need for new regional climate initiatives to facilitate policies at different levels of decision making in Africa. Though the proposed collection and distribution of local scientific data, it was agreed that policy making at the local, regional and national level could be influenced, making it better informed and more responsive to the growing impact of climate variability on water resources across Africa as a result.

For more information on the Global Water Initiative please visit: http://www.futureofenergy.org.uk/index.php?page=cambridge-ucsd-global-water-initiative

To download the conference presentations please visit: http://ssi.ucsd.edu/esiportal/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=221&Itemid=93

Source: Judge Business School Cambridge