The overall AXA Successional Chair Programme aims to make a step change in the research field of African Climate Risk. The format is a succession of four Research Chairs who will undertake discrete research programmes over 5-year tenures. Each Chair will undertake research at the cutting edge of knowledge in their domain of expertise – within the broader successional programme – aligning with priorities in understanding, reducing and managing African climate risk emerging at the time of their tenure.
Professor Mark New is the first AXA Chair in African Climate Risk. The focus of his research programme is on quantifying and understanding the changing risk of climate on water and food security in southern Africa. It brings together expertise in climate and weather risk attribution, statistical sciences, hydrological and agricultural sciences, and economics to: (i) quantify the human influence on both climate risk and hydrological/agricultural system exposure; (ii) to apportion socio-economic damage between these human influences and natural processes; and (iii) to evaluate the return on investment – both financial and human – of mechanisms to reduce the sensitivity of exposed water and food systems to climate change. Close interactions with public, private sector and civil society organisations during the programme will help to maximise the societal impact of the research.
The Successional Chair Programme is aligned with the long-term research strategy of the University of Cape Town, which aims to produce original, scientifically innovative, internationally competitive research on Africa in the global context, and attract the best African talent to return to or remain in Africa, working on issues critical to the social and economic development of the continent.