South Africa has signed an agreement with European Union and Brazil to boost investment in research and expand scientific knowledge of marine ecosystems. 


The agreement was signed in Portugal, where the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, is attending a three-day high-level ministerial meeting on Atlantic research and innovation cooperation, which began on Wednesday, 12 July, and finishes today, Friday, 14 July 2017.


Minister Pandor, signed the agreement with Gilberto Kassab, Brazil's Minister of State for Science, Technology, Innovation and Communication, and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.


Known as the Belém Statement, the agreement outlines ways in which countries can deepen scientific knowledge of marine ecosystems and the interrelations between oceans and climate change, oceans and food, and oceans and energy systems, as well as the dynamics of the Atlantic Ocean and its interconnected circulation systems from Antarctica to the Arctic.


The statement build on previous agreements, such as the signing of bilateral declarations of intent on marine research and innovation cooperation between the European Union and Brazil, and the EU and South Africa, and the development of the South-South Framework for Scientific and Technical Cooperation in the South and Tropical Atlantic and Southern Oceans.


Speaking at the signing in Portugal, Pandor said that shared global challenges like climate change, food security, poverty, and inequality demand a united global response.  She emphasised that international cooperation was imperative for science to advance and to improve the quality of living of all on our planet.


The Minister said South Africa was well equipped to contribute to the partnership and to add significant value to the investments of our partners.


"Our location at the Southern tip of Africa, at the confluence of three ocean systems, provides us with a strategic, geographic advantage for the marine sciences, most notably in understanding the climate-ocean interface," said the Minister. 


Commissioner Carlos Moedas said that, as part of the collaboration, a number of "floating universities" would be established to train young scientists and give opportunities to the next generation of marine researchers. The partnership would also see the development of joint data centres, where scientists could share research outcomes.


"We expect the alliance to become a global model, inspiring others to follow in our footsteps in cooperation and open science in each of our regions. This will create a more open approach to science, not only in the Atlantic, but hopefully for other ocean-related science throughout the world. There are various ongoing initiative with which we can and should collaborate," Moedas added.


Issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology



Lunga Ngqengelele

Media Liaison Officer

082 566 0446