Innovation for Sustainability in a Changing World
|The 2nd South African-German Dialogue on Science for Sustainability between the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST ) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF ) was held on 26 and 27 October 2009 in Pretoria, South Africa.|
The United Nations University Vice Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE) co-organized the event in co-operation with the International Bureau of BMBF, the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI ) and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Pretoria. Fifty-five South African and German scientists, policymakers and representatives of various industries and non-governmental organizations participated in the dialogue .
The discussion aimed at reinforcing joint understanding of a selected number of policy and strategy issues within the national systems of innovation of both countries. As such, the participants focused on the emerging frameworks, current experiences and future research questions in the cross-cutting areas of decoupling economic development, environmental degradation and national systems of innovation to support sustainable development. “Sustainability is a particular challenge in the developing world because it is coupled with the poverty challenge”, noted Professor Mark Swilling, Division Head at the Sustainability Institute of Stellenbosch University . The participants also highlighted the need to address the lack of attention to sustainability research by top policymakers and the lack of acceptance of such research by mainstream science.
Ambassador Dieter Haller of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Pretoria emphasized that regional and global challenges required innovative concepts and strategies for sustainable resource utilization. He stated: “Science plays a major role in this context. Without science there is no basis to tackle these present and future challenges: sustainable development initiatives and measures are not only relevant for some politicians, scientists and intellectuals, but for the men and women on the street as well. We are all affected by the impact of climate change. Green jobs are not only possibilities but realities already. We care for our children, so our well-being should not be on the costs of our future generation. In this respect, not only science and technologies, but also educational and awareness-raising measures for society are vital.”
UNU-ViE presented an overview of the multilateral approaches for science and technology co-operation for sustainability with a focus on intergovernmental, hybrid and non-governmental partnerships. UNU-ViE also noted that the variety of existing initiatives reflected an increase in international attention to multilateral S&T co-operation and a tendency towards greater inclusiveness. However, while there are no lack of initiatives, organizations and partnerships, there is a need for better structure and governance of multilateral co-operation in science and technology. The authors of cooperative sustainability programmes need to consider the implications of partner choice and recognize potential tensions and tradeoffs on both sides. Given differential resources, how do partners achieve acceptable, mutually beneficial instruments for cooperation? Can they design frameworks for sustainability research that reflect our “common but differentiated responsibility” context?
The proceedings of the 2nd South African-German Dialogue on Science for Sustainability will appear in print in early 2010. The concept paper, participant list, presentations, abstracts and CVs of the presenters and a photo gallery are available at www.dialogue4s.de/en/270.php .
Dialogue on Science for Sustainability (D4S) is an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The initiative aims to establish the foundations for long-term, strategic partnerships in sustainability research and to develop projects contributing to the dissemination of results. For more information on D4S, please visit the dialogue website .