The Tropical and South Atlantic Ocean, together with the Southern Ocean are critical to the economies of South Africa and Brazil, being essential to their weather, fishing, aquaculture, tourism, transport, mining, and oil and gas industries.  No less important is the role of these oceans in climate change, which is presently comparatively poorly understood but considered central to weather patterns in both countries, the region and the world.

 

In this context, South Africa and Brazil have agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation on marine science, technology and innovation.  Over the last two years, officials from the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa and from the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications in Brazil, supported by researchers from both countries, have formulated a science plan to frame and deepen research cooperation with a focus on the South and Tropical Atlantic, and the Southern Ocean. The plan identifies three key focus areas, namely, (i) climate variability and change, (ii) ecosystems variability and controlling processes, and (iii) living and non-living resources, and biodiversity. A very important ambition of the plan is to jointly develop and deploy new technologies for ocean exploration, an important opportunity for technological innovation identified by both countries.

 

Workshops at which the plan was developed were also attended by officials and researchers from Namibia, Angola, Argentina and Uruguay, whose countries are also involved in marine research in the region, in some cases in collaboration with either South Africa or Brazil or both.  South Africa and Brazil hope that in due course the plan may strengthen regional cooperation across all these countries in a mutual effort to maximize our knowledge of these oceans in order that they serve to strengthen regional development and international relations in the South Atlantic.

 

South Africa and Brazil hope that the science plan will also strengthen South-North research and innovation cooperation on the Atlantic Ocean system as a whole, complementing the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance established between the European Union, the United States and Canada. Within this context and with the objective to promote global cooperation and a basin-wide understanding of the Atlantic, from pole to pole, researchers and officials from Europe, supported by the European Union also participated in relevant sessions of the workshops that facilitated the development of the science plan.

 

South Africa’s Minister for Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor, says that “the development of this plan is highly symbolic in that two important scientific nations in the global South have recognized the importance of large scale cooperation on global challenges, namely how to understand and manage climate change, and how to expand in a sustainable manner access to resources hitherto hidden by the unknowns of the Atlantic Ocean.”

 

The Brazilian Minister for Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications, Mr Gilberto Kassab, highlighted the ambitious scope of this document  in attempting to define a common scientific agenda for the South and Tropical Atlantic and the Southern Ocean. This initiative looks at both the huge scientific gaps there are still to be filled as well as at the enormous potential it holds for unlocking the full knowledge about how life on Earth is possible, giving humanity better tools to sustainably use and conserve its resources and ecosystems.Only through an integrated international effort we will be able to exchange expertise, infrastructure, brains and will power to overcome our challenges, strengthening the South to South and South to North collaboration.

Together, Brazil and South Africa hope this document to be a landmark in regional scientific cooperation and also in the global ocean science context.

The South-South Framework for Scientific and Technical Cooperation in the South Tropical Atlantic and Southern Ocean document is available on www.dst.gov.za.

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology

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