Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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The School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is host to the South African branch of the Working Group II Technical Support Unit of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

About the IPCC
The IPCC, with 195 member governments, assesses scientific information related to climate change, in different sectors (e.g. water resources, ecosystems, food security, agriculture and forests, coastal systems, industry, human health, urban and rural areas, etc.) and for different regions. The information is published as regular comprehensive Assessment Reports and more focused Special Reports, among others. They form the scientific basis upon which decisions can be made, and local and global action (e.g., Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement etc.) can be based. The current assessment cycle is the sixth since 1990. With each cycle, the understanding of global climate change with its complex web of interconnected cause-and-effects has grown, deepened, and widened.

Working Groups
The IPCC comprises three Working Groups and a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Each Working Group is assisted by a Technical Support Unit. Working Group I deals with the physical science base of climate change, including future climate scenarios. Working Group II focuses on the potential impacts of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity and human societies: How vulnerable are they to climate change, and to what extent can they adapt? Can risks be reduced? What are the options for creating a sustainable future for all? Working Group III focuses on “mitigation”, i.e. reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing those already emitted from the atmosphere. The Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories oversee the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme.

Working Group II Technical Support Unit 
Working Group II is Co-Chaired by Professor Debra Roberts (South Africa) and Professor Hans-Otto Portner (Germany). Professor Roberts is a local government practitioner and currently works as the Acting Head of the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit in eThekwini Municipality. Roberts is the first South African practitioner-scientist working in local government to have been elected for a leading role in the IPCC. Her election reflects the increasing efforts to link scientific knowledge with practice. Having a local IPCC office will also help strengthen the African voice in IPCC processes and products

The Working Group II Technical Support Unit is located at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremen and at the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal. In February 2018, Dr Marlies Craig and Dr Andrew Okem joined the Durban IPCC office as Natural Science and Social Science Officers respectively, with Ms Philisiwe Manqele as the Administrative Officer. Dr Michelle North and Dr Nina Hunter are two postdoctoral researchers associated with the office as part of the commitment to build local climate change.


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Meet the team 

Prof Debra Roberts 

Prof Roberts is the Co-Chair for Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and an Acting Head of the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit at eThekwini Municipality.

Her interests include: Sustainability, Resilience, Biodiversity and Climate Change Adaptation in an urban context.

Prof Rob Slotow
UKZN host
Prof Slotow has a research focus on sustainable environmental decision-making from a conservation biology perspective.

This includes: conservation planning and management implementation, species specific management, and biodiversity policy issues.

Dr Marlies Craig 
Science Officer
Dr Andrew Okem 
Science Officer

Dr Michelle North 
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr Nina Hunter
Postdoctoral Researcher

Ms Phili Manqele 
Admin Officer
Contact us
Tel: 031 260 7917 | Email:  

Year 1
Semester 1
BIOL101(16), CHEM110(16), MATH150(16), PHYS131(16)
Semester 2
BIOL102(16), STAT130(16), Electives(32)
Semester 1
BIOL200(16), 204(16), 214(16)
Approved 16C Level 2 module within the School, Electives (32)
Semester 2
BIOL205(16), 231(16)
Year 3
BIOL300(16), 304(16), 341(16), 342(16), 343(16), 391(16), 32C from Level-3 BIOL modules approved by the School


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