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Sean O’Donoghue is inspired by the innovation and creativity of EPIC Africa members

Sean O’Donoghue

Co-Leader, EPIC Africa Regional Network
Director, Durban Adaptation Charter
eThekwini Municipality (Durban)
Sean’s LinkedIn

Favorite Place

Being a Marine Biologist, my favourite place is the sea and its in-situ communities, but I also really love the Bluff in Durban with its rough and tough characters.

What was your first interaction with a school-community partnership project? 

As a local government employee who oversees our City’s transdisciplinary research programme, I was moved by how committed academic partners were improving the lives of residents in an informal settlement of one of our catchment rehabilitation projects. The lines between practitioner, academic and settlement dweller have become blurred for all participants. All of this was done to reduce vulnerability and support a decent standard of living within such settlements in Durban.

How did you first learn about EPIC-N?

Through our Durban Adaptation Charter champion, Dr Anthony Socci, of the US Environmental Protection Agency. His supportive encouragement helped us over our inertia in Durban to set up our own EPIC pilot in 2018.

What are some of the top priorities you are working on this year?

Durban’s Transformative River Management Programme – addressing catchment management, climate adaptation, health, recreation and economic opportunities, including through the circular and green economies, to provide a better life for many, not just in Durban, but throughout Africa.

In what ways are you looking to engage, or work with others, either from within the EPIC-Network, or in general?

As one of the leaders of the EPIC Africa network, we seek to grow the network and the number of cities employing the EPIC Model to increase the benefits that EPIC can bring to communities and local governments in Africa.

Why do you think the EPIC-Network is important?

In Africa, EPIC provides a cost-effective alternative to developing community-based solutions to a plethora of development and environmental challenges. EPIC draws on the innovation of youth, of which, Africa has barrow-loads.

What is your favorite part of the EPIC-Network?

Connecting with my African colleagues and seeing them progress. Being inspired by what they can achieve with such limited financial and skills resources, but with so much innovation and creativity.

What do you want a community, or university, to know about the EPIC-Network?

Both local government, community and university need to understand how beneficial the EPIC model is as a win-win situation.


Dr. Sean O’Donoghue has a doctorate in marine pelagic ecology obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2010. In March 2011, Sean joined eThekwini Municipality, or Durban, where he manages the Climate Change Adaptation Branch. A key focus of the Branch is Community Ecosystem Based Adaptation, providing work opportunities for Durban’s indigent populations. Sean manages a number of research, inter-city and community partnership projects, and is working closely with C40, particularly the Cities Finance Facility, who are helping to develop a business case for the city to self-fund at scale its Transformative River Management Programme. Sean is an IPCC lead author for the Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, but in his spare time prefers surfing, diving and kitesurfing.