An Official Visit to Beijing
An Official Visit to Beijing
In May, the Sustainability Institute was invited to attend a learning exchange with the People’s Republic of China. Due to the ever-manic schedules of Eve and Mark, Candice Kelly was asked to attend to represent the SI.
The trip was organised by our National Department of Science and Technology and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and involved three days of meetings and site visits in Beijing.
On the 15 November 2010, an all-round strategic partnership between China and South Africa was formalised, under the framework of China-South Bilateral Committee, China-South Africa Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation and China-Africa Science and Technology Partnership Program. The aim being to enhance future collaborations in the areas of biotechnology, mining/smelting, astronomy, indigenous knowledge systems (including traditional medicine), paleoanthropology, renewable energy, new materials, nanotechnology, agriculture, information and communication technology, transportation, environment, and climate change.
To enhance the cooperation and communication between the two countries, it was decided that both sides would hold seminars in China and South Africa respectively to conduct communications and discussions on topics of both sides’ common concern. The South African delegation to China from the 7-11 May 2012 was the first part of the aforesaid seminar programs. The programme for the visit was as follows:
Day 1, Tuesday 7 May 2012
Bilateral workshop on ‘China-South Africa Science and Technology for Sustainability’ organised by the Administrative Centre for China’s Agenda 21 (ACCA21)
Day 2, Wednesday 8 May 2012
Visit to Minzu University of China’s College of Life and Environmental Science
Day 3, Thursday 9 May 2012
Visit to Environmental Bureau of Xicheng District, Beijing
The participating South African delegation included:
- Dr Henry Roman, DST, Director Environmental Services and Technologies
- Mr Somila Xosa, DST, Director Transport & Renewable Energy
- Ms Pontsho Maruping, TIA, Group Executive Industrial Sectors
- Mr Jay Bhagwan, WRC, Director Water Use and Waste Management
- Dr Linda Godfrey, CSIR, Principal Researcher Pollution and Waste
- Dr Charles Nhemachena, HSRC, Senior Research Specialist
- Ms Candice Kelly, Sustainability Institute, Senior Researcher
- Mr Godfrey Nyakulalini, DEA, Deputy-Director Green Economy
Day One was the main day of presentations and discussion. Each representative presented the work their department or organisation does in the fields of science and technology for sustainable development. Candice presented on the BPhil, MPhil and transdisciplinary PhDs and also the work of the SI around creating the ecovillage at Lynedoch.
At the end of the day, the main areas which seemed to emerge as possible points for collaboration were climate change, water, policy, sustainable communities, renewable energy and low carbon transport technology. It was decided to constitute a virtual working group to continue discussions and information sharing in the lead up to the return visit by the Chinese delegation to South Africa later in 2012.
On Day 2 we visited Minzu University which is specially focussed on minority ethnic groups – both attracting them as students and researching minority issues. Both sides presented their research interests and the following areas were identified for possible collaboration: biodiversity, sustainable development, water management, anthropological studies, postgraduate exchanges particularly around transdisciplinary programmes.
On Day 3 we had a field trip to the eutrophication control programme in the Shichaihai Lakes area of Beijing. We were hosted by the local municipality which has its own science division. A tour of the water treatment plant (sponsored by the Italian government) and the ‘wild duck island’ by boat were very enjoyable, if somewhat short.
All in all, it was a very interesting experience although little seemed to be pinned down in terms of actual pathways for the collaboration. It seems we will have to wait until the Chinese visit us later this year to see how we might work together in the future.