With Africa being identified by the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report as the continent with the greatest risk in terms of a changing climate, Southern Africa is one of these key regions. A number of negative factors are already clearly mapping local ecosystems and posing a serious threat. Climate-related impacts are earlier and more intensively to be observed in Southern Africa compared to other regions worldwide, since the interactions between climate change and anthropogenic environmental factors such as slash and burn and overfishing are especially strong.

Waterberg landscape in Limpopo Enlarge image Waterberg landscape in Limpopo (© picture-alliance/dpa) Soil erosions, droughts, climatic and anthropogenic influences such as land-use, industrial pollution as well as aquaculture and changes in ocean currents are important issues that need to be examined in this context. The interactions between geosphere, atmosphere and the oceans as well as between land and sea and biosphere and atmosphere are therefore the focus of the systemic research programme “SPACES”. 

The initiative aims at the implementation of scientific cooperation projects in the Southern African region, contributing to the formulation of science-based recommendations for policy makers regarding the earth system management and ensuring the sustainable use and conservation of various ecosystem services in the region. 

The database collected through SPACES is expected to significantly enhance our knowledge of the functioning of the system earth and its adaptation to natural changes and anthropogenic influences. Creating resistant and adaptive land-use systems will ultimately lead to making man and the environment more resilient towards the negative effects of climate change. This will also help develop sustainable societies and healthy ecosystems.

Trout farming: Aquaculture in South Africa Enlarge image Trout farming: Aquaculture in South Africa (© picture alliance / WILDLIFE) SPACES and SASSCAL scientifically complement each other. It is planned to make all results gained through SPACES available via SASSCAL. The initiative is furthermore partnered with the South African ACCESS programme (Applied Climate Change and Earth System Science) of the DST as well as with the Namibian Ministry of Education and therewith also with the University of Namibia.

Capacity building is an essential part of SPACES. In addition to workshops and summer schools, an education and training component is hence an integral part of the initiative.

Therefore, the BMBF has set up a scholarship programme for Master's and doctoral students which is administered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The scholarships are granted in close cooperation with the scientists involved in SPACES. Furthermore, training sessions for African students with experienced scientists on German research vessels are offered. The scholarship programme is open to young researchers giving them opportunities for academic development.

For more information on SPACES

For more information on the DAAD scholarship



Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Education and research are the foundations for our future. The promotion of education, science and research by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research represents an important contribution to securing our country's prosperity.


Trees at Graskop

The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Use (SASSCAL) is a joint initiative between Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Germany. The programme was initiated in 2009 with the mission to conduct problem-oriented research in the area of adaptation to climate and change and sustainable land management and to provide evidence-based advice for all decision-makers and stakeholders. This will ultimately improve the livelihoods of people in the region and contribute to the creation of an African knowledge-based society.