SPACES - Science Partnerships for the Assessment of Complex Earth System Processes
Southern Africa is among the regions which are already suffering acutely from climate change: Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods have become noticeably more frequent in recent years, particularly in South Africa where climate-related impacts were observed much earlier and are more intense than in other regions of the world. This is due to the fact that the correlation between climate change and anthropogenic environmental influences such as slash-and-burn farming and overfishing are particularly strong there.
The SPACES (Science Partnerships for the Assessment of Complex Earth System Processes) program is aimed at implementing scientific cooperation projects in the "Southern Africa" region; these projects will contribute to the formulation of scientifically based recommendations for the management of the Earth system and sustainable use as well as the preservation of the various ecosystem services of the region.
SPACES is building upon the previous activities of German scientists in southern Africa. German institutions have been active in southern Africa for more than ten years and participate in international programs such as Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) and Benguela Environment Fisheries Interaction and Training (BENEFIT) as well as cooperation projects such as BIOTA and Inkaba ye Africa. Other bilateral and multilateral marine research projects, such as NAMIBGAS and GENUS, have put the current cooperation activities on a broad footing. The goal of SPACES, however, is not to continue these projects immediately, but rather to deepen both the thematic and geographic expansion of the research expertise acquired to date. SPACES will make a sustainable contribution to the corresponding national programs and initiatives in the region with new research topics and additional partners.
The program was developed on the basis of multilateral discussions conducted by the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Dr. Annette Schavan, during her visit to South Africa and Namibia in 2008. This visit was followed by two workshops for a wide professional audience in Gobabeb and Henties Bay (Namibia) which was attended by scientists from Angola, Germany, Namibia and South Africa in 2009. The results of the workshop were then presented to potential partners in the South African and Namibian ministries and research institutes. Consequently, the BMBF, the Namibian Ministry of Education, and the South African ACCESS Program (Applied Center for Climate and Earth System Science) signed declarations of cooperation in the SPACES program. These declarations, along with the results and recommendations of the multilateral discussions, form the basis for future research projects within the context of SPACES. The planned bilateral research will take the scientific objectives of the BMBF's "Research for Sustainable Development" framework program as well as those objectives concerning scientific policy into account.
Cooperation between scientists from German research institutions and universities and the relevant partner institutions in Namibia and South Africa is being pursued in the SPACES program.
The support of junior scientists is an essential component of SPACES. To that end, an education and training component, in addition to workshops and summer schools, forms an integral part of the program. The BMBF supports a DAAD scholarship program (master and doctoral fellowships) for this purpose as well. Moreover, educational trips with experienced scientists are offered to African students on German research vessels. To date, three training trips have taken place on German research vessels (FS MERIAN 2011, FS METEOR 2013, FS SUN 2014).