Debra Roberts Makes History as First African Woman Nominated to Chair IPCC

During the IPCC Seventh Assessment Report (AR7) outline scoping by Africa, held in Nairobi by AGNES, delegates nominated Prof. Debra Roberts from the Republic of South Africa to run for the position of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chair.

This makes her the first African woman to contest the position, even though the global north has nominated two women amongst the four candidates.

Having worked as a scientist for the last three decades at the science-policy-practice interface, Prof. Debra Roberts has a solid background for leading actionable strides to combat climate change.

Her expertise in biodiversity planning and management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainable development, and resilience at the local and international levels make her an ideal candidate for the position.

She has already served as Co-Chair of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Working Group 2.

According to Prof. Roberts, the IPCC needs to become more equitable by banking on an inclusive foundation to ensure the delivery of first-class science.

Maintaining and enhancing the scientific leadership of the IPCC is essential to ensure effective climate change action.

Prof. Debra Roberts

She believes that Africa is central to achieving sustainable responses to climate change and that African scientists need to work together to develop evidence-based solutions to African weather patterns and challenges.

Prof. Roberts also highlights the need for sustainable planning in urban areas, which is rapidly increasing in Africa. She stresses that rural areas must be able to feed the growing urban populations, or hunger will become a critical challenge, hindering efforts to meet SDG goals.

As the acting Head of the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit at Ethekwini Municipality in Durban, South Africa, since 2016, Prof. Roberts is well aware of the developmental challenges faced in the Global South.

She calls for integration among African scientists to come up with concrete research and urges government and private sector institutions to fund researchers where possible to this effect.

Prof. Roberts encourages women to step forward and take action on climate change, food insecurity, science, and environmental issues since they are most affected by these elements.

She believes that her nomination should empower young girls, ladies, and women to believe in themselves and join in to make the world a better place for survival.

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