Survey on the needs and expectations of academic and non-academic stakeholders
In the Congo forest basin and the Gulf of Guinea region, many socio-environmental challenges need to be addressed in order to provide answers to several of the Sustainable Development Goals.
|Contributor||Administrateur Sites Cameroun|
The challenges include mitigating climate change (within the framework of the national INDCs), adapting to its effects, conserving biodiversity, combating soil degradation and erosion, curbing the depletion of carbon stocks and various forms of pollution, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and managing and reducing disaster risks. Meeting these challenges requires bringing together the existing scientific forces, which are real but dispersed, and associating them in a transdisciplinary approach with national and local authorities, private operators and civil society actors working in the field of the environment in order to promote the implementation of policies guaranteeing the sustainability of the ways in which natural resources are used and their greater contribution to local economies.
Among the challenges related to climate, forests, coastal management and cities that require inter- and transdisciplinary approaches are the improvement of (1) climate services and environmental risk management, (2) sustainable management and conservation of coastal, littoral and marine environments, (3) sustainable management of forest resources and carbon storage, (4) sustainable management of soil and water resources, and (5) management of the development of the urban fabric towards sustainable, inclusive and resilient cities. All of these challenges cut across the broad theme of environmental biogeosciences, a field of study integrating geosciences and biological sciences, approached through disciplinary (geology, geography, geospatial analysis, etc.) and interdisciplinary (environmental sciences) approaches at the crossroads of natural, human and social sciences.
In order to fill the knowledge gap in Central Africa on climate change, soil erosion and degradation, deterioration of water quality, eutrophication of hydrosystems, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of carbon stocks and disaster risk management and reduction, it is important to federate these existing forces.
To meet these multiple challenges, the Cameroonian Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI) aims to create a Centre for Biogeosciences of the Environment (CBE), with a sub-regional vocation, in line with the national development strategy thanks to financing from the Debt Reduction and Development Contract (C2D). MINRESI is in charge of the project management for the creation of the CBE by virtue of its regalian missions in terms of the implementation of the Cameroonian government's research policy. The scientific campus of Nkolbisson in Yaounde will host the CBE which will occupy an area of about one hectare.
The Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), a French public science and technology establishment and partner of MINRESI, is initially responsible for carrying out a feasibility study for the implementation of the CBE, then, if the study is validated, for supporting MINRESI in the implementation of the project. This preliminary study is essential to ensure the long-term viability of the project in view of the many issues at stake, be they strategic, financial, technical, legal, partnership, etc. Moreover, it is envisaged that the CBE will host the IRD representation in Cameroon with extension of competence to Gabon, Congo and DRC and its field vehicle fleet.
The CBE will combine spaces and infrastructures for high-level research with high-performance technical platforms (geochemistry laboratory dedicated to the preparation and conditioning of samples and elementary analyses - e.g. carbon-nitrogen-phosphorus-, plant biology, geomatics and database, modelling laboratory), functional and user-friendly office spaces, storage rooms for soil, water and plant material samples, and both guesthouse and catering area. It will also include permanent environmental observation systems. The observatories are strategic and operational devices that, based on data collected over time, validated and qualified, make it possible to strengthen the link between fundamental research, innovations and operational applications.
The CBE's mission will be to define scientific orientations broken down into research and development projects (e.g. impact studies, urban observatories), produce publications of international standard, develop accessible databases and inform decision-makers and operational actors. It will also aim to strengthen scientific capacities and cooperation with stakeholders.
These objectives call for an intensification of research and aim to foster an increase in the national scientific potential in the fields of competence of the CBE, which will mainly be hydro-climatology, biogeochemical cycles and vegetation ecology, territorial dynamics and inclusive and resilient sustainable cities. Transversal methodological research in modelling, analysis of geolocalised data and processing of spatial observations will also be necessary.
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