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OWSD South Africa: Global Change Grand Challenge (GCGC)

October 20, 2021

Global Change Grand Challenge is one of five Grand Challenges identified by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in its Ten-Year Innovation Plan.

The Global Change Grand Challenge (GCGC) supports knowledge generation and technological innovation to enable South Africa, Africa and the world to respond to global environmental change, including climate change, in an informed and innovative way. It has three main aspects, namely:

  1. Enhancing scientific understanding of global change;
  2. Developing innovations and technologies to respond to global change; and
  3. Understanding the social context within which solutions will have to be implemented.

The DSI has developed a detailed Global Change Research Plan (GCRP) for enhancing scientific understanding of global change.  The research plan comprises 18 research themes within the following four knowledge thrusts:  Understanding a Changing Planet;  Reducing the Human Footprint;  Adapting the Way We Live; and Innovation for sustainability.

The Research Plan embraces the wider sphere of global change although its main focus is on climate change. It includes changes in economics, politics, land use and atmospheric conditions, as well as loss of biodiversity. It also includes palaeo-analysis and the geosciences in as far as illuminate global change issues. The Research Plan follows a three-pronged approach aimed at:

  1. Studying and understanding the changes;
  2. Understanding the implications of these changes for decision making; and
  3. Stimulating innovation in responding to the challenges posed by global change.

The GCRP is managed by the Programme Management Unit (PMU) hosted by the National Research Foundation (NRF), which focuses 6 pillars, namely: People, research enterprise, research infrastructure, relationship between science and society, and  resourcing for impact, which underpins the NRF Vision 2030. In terms of the strategic overview and focus, the PMU is also guided by the mandates of the the Global Change Science Committee (GCSC), made up of a range of top scientists and researchers from a diverse range of backgrounds and institutions in South Africa.


Please click the desired programme for further details:

  1. Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP)
  2. The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate and Land Management (SASSCAL)
  3. Earth Systems Science Research Programme (ESSRP)
  4. Risk & Vulnerability Science Centres (RVSCs)
  5. Global Change Social Science Research Programme (GCSSRP V2)
  6. African Earth Observation Network (AEON)
  7. Alliance for Collaboration on Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS)
  8. Belmont Forum (BF) Collaborative Research Action on Transdisciplinary Research for Pathways to Sustainability

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