UK body to coordinate climate change teamwork

Agencies will share information about climate-tolerant crops Copyright: CGIAR/CIMMYT

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The recently formed UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UK-CDS) announced last week (28 September) that climate change will be its major focus over the next year.

Formed in December 2006, the UK-CDS coordinates the science and technology projects of its eight UK-based members — including the Wellcome Trust, the Department of Health and the Department for International Development — that are in or affect the developing world.

Projects range from medical and social research to agricultural and environmental projects.

The UK-CDS will look at projects examining "the impact of climate change on developing countries, what adaptation might be necessary and what the science and technology needs might be," UK-CDS director Andree Carter told SciDev.Net.

For example, an adaptation project might investigate which new crops or agricultural practices are required in areas of increased flooding, she said.

"What we’re finding is that our members support activities in a range of countries, particularly Sub-Saharan African countries, but they have very little knowledge of what each other are doing," says Carter. "If we could bring some of those activities together, simply from an information and ‘lessons learned’ point of view, it would add value."

UK-CDS hopes to have an initial report ready by the end of 2007.

The collaborative will map out current funding initiatives and activities and identify opportunities for collaboration.

It will assist projects in the developing world in building capacity in science and technology by helping identify research priorities, manage research budgets and day-to-day running of research organisations, and build technical skills and infrastructure.

Part of UK-CDS’s remit is to also guide capacity building in UK-based organisations and match up the skills and capabilities of organisations to the needs of developing countries.

It also plans to work with the UK Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills to try and predict future science and technology needs of developing countries.

"Think about how the mobile phone has had a massive impact on developing countries, how they’ve cut out a whole raft of infrastructure just by using mobile phones. What other electronic or other technology might make a big difference in terms of life?" Carter adds.