13 December 2017

BNP Paribas and the Gates Foundation fund climate adaptation research for Africa

The BNP Paribas Foundation has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the One Planet Fellowship programme aiming to deliver much-needed research on climate adaptation in Africa.

The One Planet Fellowship is a $15 million 5-year programme in partnership with the Agropolis Foundation; a body promoting high-level research on agricultural sciences and sustainable development.

It aims to support research to leverage French, African and wider European expertise to advance issues on smart agriculture and climate change resilience to help Africa cope with the future impacts of climate change.

The continent is considered particularly vulnerable to global warming’s consequences, and, according to scientific estimations, it is likely to suffer from prolonged periods of drought resulting in lower crop yields.

The aim of the programme is to provide additional resources to African research and enrich the resources of future scientists who will have to deal which these challenges.

Nick Austin, Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explained: “We believe it’s critical to nurture a new generation of climate scientists, particularly African scientists, who can build on existing agricultural research and innovations to deliver new climate adaptation solutions to help smallholder farmers and their families in the decades to come”.

To this end, 120 African researchers will be selected to be offered joint mentoring from a senior scientist in Africa and one from Europe in a laboratory in France.

After their training, these researchers will mentor two younger colleagues, one from an African institution and one from Europe. In total, the One Planet Fellowship will involve 600 scientists over 5 years.

The researchers will be hosted in the southern French city of Montpellier, where the Agropolis Foundation and its partners have created a world-class scientific community of more than 2,700 researchers and teachers specialising in the fields of agriculture, food science, biodiversity and the environment.

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas, said: “Undertaking research into climate change adaptation enables us to gain a better understanding of the current and future risks and identify the best solutions to address them”.

Pascal Kosuth, Director of the Agropolis Foundation, explained that building an African and European scientific community is an essential challenge that needs to be addressed to prepare “for our common future”.

At the same time, BNP Paribas has partnered with UN Environment to scale up green investment in emerging countries. This new partnership will attempt to identify suitable commercial projects with significant environmental and social impact, and raise $10 billion in financing by 2025.

The new partnership will target smallholder projects mainly related to renewable energy access, agroforestry, water access and responsible agriculture.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director at UN Environment, said: “The partnership with BNP Paribas sets a signal to the finance industry that ‘business as usual’ is not an option anymore. We need to design sustainable agriculture and forestry in a way that solves the climate crisis, rather than contributes to it”. 

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