"South Africa has keenly pursued the development of regional, continental and global partnerships to identify solutions to our socio economic challenges.", said Minister Pandor.
South Africa and Germany signed a science and technology cooperation agreement in 1996, with a joint research fund established to support research and development (R&D) projects in agricultural, life, earth, mathematical, engineering, and physical and health sciences.
"The Year of Science will offer both countries an opportunity to attract young people to science, technology and innovation, as well as expand and deepen bilateral cooperation in these fields", added Minister Pandor.
In the scope of the German-South African call for initiatives more than 200 applications were handed in by the science community of both countries. Of all applications 41 initiatives have been jointly agreed on which represent all thematic fields of the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013 and receive funding.
For example, collaboration between the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (BUW) and the North West University (NWU) on sustainable resource-based sanitation and organic waste utilisation supports the exchange of knowledge and promotes mobility among young scientists. Another project between the University of Pretoria and the Fachhochschule Kiel aims at promoting gender equality in sciences by financing a conference entitled Women in Science – Promoting Excellence and Innovation for Future Development.
"Policy-makers and society are facing the big challenges of climate change, advancing urbanization, the use of scarce resources, securing the world food supply and solving global health problems. We must address these challenges in a joint effort", Minister Schavan said.
Minister Pandor said it was encouraging that world leaders in both developed and developing countries appreciated the critical role of strategic partnerships in solving these and related global challenges.
The Year of Science is expected to strengthen research partnerships for innovation and sustainable development and focuses on seven thematic fields, namely, astronomy, the bioeconomy, humanities and social sciences, human capital development, innovation in the health industry, climate change and urbanisation.
The official opening of the Year of Science, held at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town, was attended by representatives of the political and scientific communities and by partners in the Year of Science. At a joint press conference following the opening event, the ministers clearly stated their expectations. "We hope that this joint effort will provide impetus for pioneering projects and future innovation", said Minister Pandor.
The ceremony included a tour of the exhibition organised by the partners of the Year of Science and a visit to the astronomy symposium, entitled "Innovating the future; reaching for the stars".
German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013
The Year of Science between South Africa and Germany stems from the science and technology agreement between the two countries, which was signed in 1996. The agreement aims to strengthen science, technology and innovation (STI) cooperation and collaboration in cutting-edge research between the two countries. Germany is a close partner and funder in the implementation of several regional technology transfer and climate change initiatives. The two countries will use the Year of Science as a strategic tool to assist in bringing focused attention to South Africa's science and technology initiatives and to illustrate German-South African cooperation in STI so that key audiences are able to appreciate the benefit for both countries.