Presentation of MOOC-ALGA on planning for climate change in African cities at COP23

Within the framework of the training offer from UCLG Africa’s African Local Government Academy (ALGA), a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on planning for climate change in African cities was launched in September 2017.


The side-event on the presentation of MOOC was organized at COP23 with partners: IHS (Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies), Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Coursera and ENERGIES 2050.

The C.06 pavilion of ENERGIES 2050 / UCLG Africa located within the Bonn Zone hosted the event on November 13, 2017. Discussions highlighted four key ideas.

“The planning for African cities must be consistent with a number of principles that have been set up, notably by UN Habitat. It must be inclusive, must not leave anyone on the sidelines and must integrate the youth and the resilience aspect,” explained Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of ALGA.

Panelists underscored the fact that urban planning must integrate climate change on a practical level by equipping this planning with mechanisms for implementation, monitoring and evaluation. To achieve this goal, the training component is essential. “This requires building up capacities and support, including in the fields of funding and methods,” said Dr. Zarrouk.


For Marcus Mayr of UN-Habitat, the younger generation should be motivated to work on climate change and equipped with tools because they are the ones, “who have to address climate change in the future.”

In his presentation on MOOC, Dr. Stelios Grafakos, Researcher at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), highlighted the relevance of the training, which presents practical cases of cities in some African countries (Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa). “This tool can reach out to a wide audience, we already have 100 people who have followed faithfully the course and 98% of the participants like the course and have left positive feedbacks,” declared Dr. Stelios.

Ms. Fatimetou Ben Abdelmalick, Mayor of Tevragh-Zeina (Mauritania), a member of the Panel, appreciated the launch of MOOC, which she called very timely and appropriate.  “I come from a local government that has a lot of vulnerabilities in the face of global warming. To cope, we adopt participatory approaches to involve all segments of this local government, the youth, the women and the schoolchildren to build together resilience,” explained the vice president of REFELA. Sometimes we do not have a good grasp of the difference between most of the concepts (vulnerability, resilience, etc.), which are new to people. The training comes at the right time to build people in order to guide them and make them resilient. I acknowledge that it is important for our engineering departments to take part in this training in order to build up their capacities to meet the needs of the people,” insisted Ms. Abdelmalick.

Stephane Pouffary, President of ENERGIES 2050, emphasized that, “The challenge is to make these training courses and tools a means to make decisions and implement climate actions in the field. The principle of an open MOOC is an excellent idea and UCLG Africa is the political arm of implementation at the level of local governments on the continent. UCLG Africa has the means to act, as the organization has already set up professional networks of Chief Technical Officers of Cities and Territories of Africa (Africa TechNet), Chief Financial Officers (Africa Finet), CEOs of the cities and sub-regions of Africa (Africa MagNet).”

Professor Andy Gouldson (Professor at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom), highlighted the example of Kigali and its carbon emission reduction strategy, which will be the subject of a course in MOOC.

At the time of assessment, Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of ALGA recalled, “Through this side-event, we have come to share a training offer, the way for us at UCLG Africa to support the implementation of the ‘Climate Agenda, especially through training, capacity building, networking and support for local and regional governments.”

Brief presentation of MOOC

The MOOC on Planning for Climate Change in African Cities lasts 5 weeks and has 5 modules: Introductory Course on Climate Change and Cities • Defining and Assessing Urban Risks and Vulnerabilities • Adapting to Climate Change and Resilience • Planning for climate change • Decision making analysis for climate change.

At the end of this course, the beneficiaries should be able to: • Identify the effects, impact and factors of climate change in cities • Understand the factors of urban risks and vulnerability in the context of climate change • Distinguish the typologies, approaches and tensions of adaptation to climate change • Explain the different approaches and stages in climate change planning • Review decision making support tools as well as the methods for assessing climate change • Develop a climate change plan based on the context of the cities from which the beneficiaries of the training come.

Please view the introductory video to MOOC:


Please view the presentation sheet from MOOC