African Synthesis Centre for Climate Change, Environment and Development



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Our aim

ASCEND aims to accelerate discoveries for more rapid, equitable, and sustained action on climate change and development for vulnerable people and places.

What ASCEND does

ASCEND provides specialised infrastructure for enabling collaborative teamwork across research, policy, and practice that integrates diverse data and knowledge, and accelerates solutions-oriented research for enhancing action on climate change and development.

We do this by:

  • Strengthening research and knowledge brokering for climate change and development action.
  • Fostering scientific discoveries that transform our understanding of interlinked climate change and development challenges, and uncover solutions.
  • Improving analysis and training to synthesize diverse existing data and knowledge for solution-oriented research.
  • Leadership of actionable research by African and Global South researchers, decision-makers, and practitioners.
  • Promoting a focus on equity and justice in climate change and development research and action.


Read our recently released policy brief, Global Goal on Adaptation: Theme Targets Informed by IPCC Scientific Assessment

ASCEND will help reshape power relations in climate change research, with Global South teams setting agendas, leading ground-breaking research, and delivering discoveries for enhanced climate and development action.

- Dr Christopher Trisos, ASCEND Director

Download our brochure to learn more about ASCEND.

Opportunities to become one of our teams

ASCEND teams will start in 2024

We encourage diversity in team membership and welcome applications for teams drawn from across Africa and globally. The participants and leaders of a team should be from a range of research, policy and practice institutions and backgrounds (they do not have to be from University of Cape Town). Teams consist of up to 15 members that meet at ASCEND up to four times over a two-year period, with work continuing between meetings. ASCEND funds meeting and travel costs, and provides team facilitation and data science support, as well as support for a full-time postdoctoral researcher for each team.

Please sign up to the ASCEND mailing list to be notified of calls for new team opportunities, including the BAOBAB synthesis project for African research on climate change.




The 2020s are a critical decade for climate action. Decision-makers, practitioners, and researchers must address complex problems that cut across disciplines, geographies and socioeconomic divides to enable the transformative change necessary to secure a sustainable future for all.

Climate change, biodiversity loss, and poverty are interlinked problems that cannot be solved by any single discipline. A lack of data and knowledge synthesis limits breakthrough research and decision-making.

The good news is a wealth of diverse data and knowledge already exist on climate change risks and response options. Yet these data often remain poorly integrated and so the potentially transformative insights they hold for climate change and development action remain largely unrealised. This is especially true in Africa.

Sophisticated equipment like a radio telescope or mass spectrometer is often essential for scientific discovery. But in this age of complex social and environmental challenges another form of research infrastructure is now essential too: synthesis centres. These specialise in bringing together research teams across many disciplines, sectors, and systems to integrate diverse data and accelerate solution-oriented research discoveries and decision-making.

ASCEND provides a physical and virtual space designed for researchers, decision-makers, and practitioners to form teams, collaborate, integrate diverse data and knowledge, and to accelerate research for climate change and development action.

Please sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on opportunities to apply to be an ASCEND synthesis team. We welcome applications for synthesis teams of researchers, decision-makers, and practitioners drawn from across Africa and globally.