South Africa has much to learn from Norway, as the Scandinavian country has a wealth of experience in the oceans economy and is a globally respected expert on marine and maritime matters.

Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor this morning hailed South Africa’s partnership with Norway, that dates back to the 1990s. The Minister launched the first South Africa-Norway Science week in Pretoria this morning (31 October). The two countries are hosting the first South Africa-Norway Science Week, to discuss opportunities for cooperation in education, research and new business development.

The Minister said, “we have much to learn from Norway about how best to undertake research in the Arctic and Antarctic. Moreover, the South African coastal and marine environment is one our most important assets. It plays the major role in regulating our climate, has tremendous natural biodiversity and supports numerous communities through fisheries, tourism and mining.”

She lamented that the marine environment is the most threatened of all on earth at this point in time. “Marine resources are under increasing stress and pressures from a wide range of human activities, including offshore drilling and oil spills. And global warming is affecting the marine environment with sometimes devastating consequences for people.”

Norway’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tone Skogen said that the ocean is key to food security, to economic growth and to job creation. Norway, has for generations harnessed and exploited its seas to grow its economy and today the Norwegian blue industries employs more than 250 000 people.

“We are here to share our experience, to learn from each other and to develop new partnerships. Research is vital to all we want to achieve. What a better way to do this than to mark the already long and strong research cooperation between our two countries by the means of a Science Week, said Ms Skogen.

She added that South Africa has seized the moment with a fast track delivery on the ocean economy through Operation Phakisa. “Your ambitions are inspiring,” she said.

South Africa and Norway have an existing portfolio of science and technology partnerships to advance the blue economy. Both are members of the new international “Martera” platform, which will support collaboration in the domain of maritime and marine technologies. The two nations are also members of the EU Horizon 2020 project “Ecopotential”, where South Africa and Norway are leading the work to leverage Earth observation to improve marine ecosystem services to society.  They are also partners in the “Atlantos” project seeking to develop an integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System.

Several Norwegian key maritime companies are already active in South Africa,like Jotun, DNV-GL and Kongsberg Maritime. The Norwegian fleet is the fourth largest in the world. Norwegian shipping companies such as Wilhelmsen, Høegh, Odfjell and Klaveness are frequent users of South African harbours.

The SA-Norway Science Week is driven by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Innovation Norway, the Research Council of Norway, and the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education.

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology

For more information contact David Mandaha on 072 126 8910 or Veronica Mohapeloa on 083 4005750