|Policy, Law, Economics and Politics - Deepening Democracy through Access to Information||This privately-owned website is operated and maintained by Creamer Media|
Published: 30 Nov 2011
|SA: Pandor: Address by the Minister of Science and Technology, at a media briefing on COP17, Durban (30/11/2011)|
Source: The Department of Science and Technology
Title: SA: Pandor: Address by the Minister of Science and Technology, at a media briefing on COP17, Durban
Let me begin by stating that, South Africa is embracing and implementing multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder responses to our climate challenges. In this regard, science and technology is crucial to government plans in confronting these challenges. These include government’s commitment to “green economy” initiatives as outlined in the New Growth Path and the “greening of industrial development” as contained in the Industrial Policy Action Plan.
These initiatives provide the framework for a coordinated state approach to the challenges of climate change, development and poverty eradication. The DST has identified the global change grand challenge as one of its strategic priorities in the Ten Year Innovation Plan. While the broad policies seek to address our challenge of job creation, infrastructure provision and socio-economic development, it is important to note science, technology and innovation remain central in the attainment of most of these challenges.
So what is it that science and technology is doing to mitigate and adapt against climate change?
At the DST stand at the EXPO, (Forest Avenue Tree) the DST together with its entities, the Council for Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and other International institutions such as Group on Earth Observations (GEO) are showcasing innovative approaches and scientific solutions to some of the challenges of climate change. GEO was established in February 2005 after the World Summit on Sustainable Development. It encourages international cooperation on solving complex global problems.
Science and Technology global cooperation on climate change - Earth Observations
Recognising the growing need for improved Earth observations, over 130 governments and leading international organizations are collaborating through the Group on Earth Observations or GEO to establish a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) by the year 2015. This expanding coalition of countries and organizations has already transformed the ability of governments to manage natural resources and promote the safety and well-being of their citizens. It is through these measures that the GEO community is supporting international efforts to promote sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals. The Group on Earth Observations is developing an international partnership called the Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI) that can make an important contribution to the efforts of governments to implement the Convention at the national level. This initiative is being showcased as part of a side event at COP17.
The DST, through the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science
(ACCESS), is addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by global change environmental drivers and producing outputs that contribute to the goal of transforming southern Africa toward a more knowledge-based economy.
The SA Risk and Vulnerability Atlas (SARVA)
The South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas, has been designed as a technology transfer mechanism to
bridge the gap between global change science and policy. The Atlas is used as a platform to profile scientific efforts to support planning for climate change. These efforts target provincial and local government departments as well as business.
The Atlas is therefore a critical source of global change information, accessible to a wide range of audiences involved in the identification, planning and action around global change risks, challenges and opportunities in South Africa.
The Atlas supports access to and visualization of data dealing with the impacts of global change on human and natural environments. It provides an electronic geographical information system and involves SA researchers from various disciplines to continuously update the content with new research. It captures data related to aspects such as groundwater, surface water, forests, biodiversity, human health, crops, demographics, economics and social dimensions.
Inkaba Ye Africa is a SA-German collaborative Earth Science initiative with a strong training and capacity-building component focusing on the global challenges of climate change, sustainable resources, clean water and energy. These are pressing issues and are all related to the dynamics of Earth Systems.
Science and Technology for socio-economic development
(i) Fuel Cell Bicycle (A hi fambeni)
The Hydrogen powered bike, “A hi Fambeni” was an opportunity for Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems to demonstrate the proof of concept for the metal hydride hydrogen storage system that they had developed for mobile applications. “A hi Fambeni” represents a path towards ensuring mobility that is greenhouse gas free since hydrogen vehicles produce heat and water as by-products which are non-polluting.
(ii) The Joule
The Joile is South Africa’s locally developed electric vehicle; it is a zero-emission six-seater multi-purpose vehicle. The Joule is as clean and green as it is quiet. It presents a radical reduction in noise pollution. The Joule is on display at COP 17.
(iii) Energy Efficiency House (Mzansi Green)
Edu-Route is showcasing a scaled down model of the City Power Energy Efficiency House (Mzansi Green), showcasing South Africa’s efforts to mitigate climate change through the use of alternative energy sources (technologies).
Young Southern Scientists Summer School
Earlier today I launched the Young Southern Scientists Summer School through which South Africa will cooperate with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). South Africa is a member through the National Research Foundation. The institute conducts interdisciplinary scientific studies on environmental, economic, technological and social issues in the context of human dimensions of global change. The Summer School will be implemented in 2012 and should help build national and regional capacity in these areas, through participation of young scientists in collaborative research together with leading scientists from around the world. In May 2011, SADC Ministers of Science and Technology endorsed a regional Science, Technology and Innovation Framework to support Climate Change responses in the region. This will assist the African continent with regards research on climate change.
CSIR at COP17
One of our entities, the CSIR is featuring its work in climate change – specifically climate modeling, coastal resilience, remote sensing to assess land degradation, water resources, ocean and Earth observation, and ecological infrastructure (biodiversity).
Information is also available on its work in climate change and human settlements, climate change and business and industry, and its participation in international environmental monitoring groups and projects.
Other attractions on display include:
• ‘Gizmo’, a South African-developed pencil buoy to study water quality and eutrophication. It is equipped with sensors for radiometry, fluorescence/back scatter, temperature, wind speed, water current speed, solar panels, GSM and GPS.
• A wheelbarrow Digital Doorway (DD). The DD is a Department of Science and Technology project to make available robust computer systems in a manner that promotes self-learning and exploration. This new model, especially developed for COP17, packages the learning of the solar-powered container DD (used by UNICEF) in a mobile design. The wheelbarrow prototype is portable and cheaper than the container. It operates for at least 30 hours in a zero light environment.
• An in situ flux device that is measuring the carbon in the exhibition hall in real-time. In the field, the flux tower measures carbon uptake and release by Africa’s vast savannas to help reduce scientific uncertainties regarding the global carbon cycle.
• An animated presentation of regional atmospheric modeling showing the expected rise in temperatures from the 1970s to 2100. Southern Africa is projected to become generally drier, while East Africa is projected to become generally wetter.
With effect from today, a new display has been added to the CSIR stand. The display features a 1 200+ year-old baobab tree of which the isotopes in the rings of the tree have been analysed. Tree rings provide insight into the environmental conditions at the time of growth and hence the climate change that took place over the total growth span of a tree.
Social Sciences for sustainable development
The DST believes that social and human sciences are crucial to deepen our knowledge of the causes and consequences of climate change, and also to develop feasible and effective responses.
In this regard, social sciences contribute to understanding how multiple stressors, including climate change; interact on a variety of scales and how they generate vulnerability. Crucial will be to identify development and poverty alleviation policies and interventions focused on building resilience and decreasing the vulnerability of the poorest communities, nations, regions to the impacts of climate change.
At a social science conference that I attended yesterday, social scientists agreed to contribute to policy making and implementation in reducing climate-change-induced malnutrition, preparing sustainable resettlement plans for the displaced, coordinating relief and disaster management.
Society therefore requires a multi-disciplinary and coordinated approach from professionals and policy makers who seek to understand and address the complex issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation.