A focus on reducing climate-driven disaster risk in rural and urban communities in southern Africa has earned climatologist Coleen Vogel the fourth Burtoni Award for contributions to climate change adaptation and science.
The Burtoni was created to promote and stimulate climate change adaptation research and policy, by honouring those who have made significant contributions to the field and motivating young researchers to do the same.
It was named after its first recipient, Canadian professor Ian Burton, a pioneer in the science of adapting to and preparing for the impacts of climate change,¬¬ and a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.
Previous winners include Roger Jones of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Saleem ul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development.
There is no committee that decides when and to whom the Burtoni is awarded. Instead, the award-holder must decide who deserves the award next, and why. Between 12 and 36 months must elapse between the Burtoni being received and passed on.
The next winner should not have the same nationality, work in the same organisation or be based in the same country as the award-holder.
Coleen Vogel is Professor in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.
Her research focuses on climate change, climate vulnerability and adaptation to climate, with a particular focus on disaster-risk reduction and climate variability in southern Africa. She has an impressive list of publications on diverse aspects of climate variability and change, and global environmental change in general.
Coleen is committed to promoting interdisciplinary perspectives on global environmental change.
She chaired the International Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme and was previously Vice-Chair of the Land Use and Land Cover Change Programme (a joint international science programme of the IGBP and IHDP). She was a co-ordinating author for the Africa Chapter in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, and part of the final overall synthesis process and the Summary for Policy Makers.
She was a key contributor to the South African Green and White Papers on Disaster Management and a major contributing author for the recent Disaster Management Act (2002).
Presenting the award, previous recipient Saleem ul Huq said Coleen was committed to research and teaching, and to working with students to build capacity both in Southern Africa and internationally.
“She serves as a role model for many, showing us how to combine a demanding workload with family and friends — all with a great sense of humor.”