From 3rd – 6th February 2020, representatives from African cities visited Durban to receive training on a pioneering initiative that matches real-world challenges in cities with local university students. The event was the first Africa-led training workshop for the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) programme, and signifies the growing international attention garnered by the approach.
Using the EPIC model to match cities’ needs with students in colleges or universities, a broad spectrum of sustainability issues can be tackled in a win-win scenario, where students gain real-world, hands-on experience, allowing them to develop professionally, while local municipalities can leverage the often-untapped expertise of local universities to tackle their sustainability challenges at low costs.
This first African-led EPIC training workshop, funded and organized by START International, took place at the Durban Botanic Gardens. It was the second EPIC training workshop in Africa. The first, led by the EPIC-Network in December 2017, inspired the initiation of three African pilot projects, in Durban, Lusaka and Nairobi, and was funded by the US National Science Foundation and UNEP’s Global Adaptation Network. Twenty-two local and national African governments were represented at the Durban workshop, along with staff from their local universities; the workshop aims to build on the successes of the three pilot projects emerging from the 2017 training, and to expand the model across the continent.