South Africa and European Union sign marine research pact
South Africa and the European Union (EU) have signed a declaration to cooperate in marine research and innovation, further cementing their 20-year-old collaboration in science and technology. The Declaration of Intent was signed in Cape Town on Monday on the occasion of the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Science and Technology (S&T) Agreement between the two parties.The celebration took place on the margins of the 3rd International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI 2016) underway at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The declaration aims to further develop a common understanding and deepen scientific knowledge of marine ecosystems and the link between oceans and climate; encourage and support research collaboration and the development of relevant technologies; facilitate human capital development and scientific exchange, and explore regional opportunities for sustainable marine cooperation.
This cooperation is expected to contribute to South Africa’s implementation of Operation Phakisa, launched by government two years ago to explore the country’s oceans economy. Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said South Africa and the EU’s joint research and innovation efforts over the past 20 years have resulted in many great achievements in health, food and agriculture, research infrastructure and Earth observations.
“The new declaration on marine research confirms that we in the EU, as well as our South African partners, want to expand our mutually beneficial cooperation much further,” said Moedas.
South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said in the South African context, the blue economy is a national priority.
“The signing of this declaration facilitates research cooperation that will be of benefit to South Africa as well as the region. I am also pleased that researchers from both South Africa and the European Union are already collaboratingin this area, and will be meeting today to share some of the highlights of their research,” said Minister Pandor.
The marine cooperation will cover, among other things, Earth systems observation and modelling, fisheries management, food security and polar research, especially the interconnections between the Atlantic and Antarctica Oceans. The Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement between the EU and South Africa entered into force in November 1997. Having recently identified marine research and innovation as one of the key priorities for further research cooperation, both sides have been exploring the possibility of future participation of South Africa in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. The new declaration paves the way to an All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.