Department of Science and Technology

Saturday, 6 August 2017

Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Port Elizabeth


The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development recognises the importance of fostering a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various countries, and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures.


Travel and tourism create jobs, drive exports, and generate wealth across the world. For example, according to Airports South Africa research, every regular, long-haul direct flight secured supports as many as 3,000 jobs. Despite the recession, Austrian airlines plans to reintroduce a direct flight between Vienna and Cape Town next year.


The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development focuses on the potential of tourism to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute effectively to the SDGs.


We are working towards the SDGs in step with many other countries. The National Sustainable Development Strategy, which was adopted in November 2011, calls for a green economy that is resource-efficient, low-carbon and pro-employment. The promotion and growth of green technologies is very important as they have the potential to create jobs and grow the economy, improve rural livelihoods, conserve natural resources and reduce pollution.


The National Development Plan calls for the growth of a competitive, fast-growing and labour-intensive green economy. A significant component of this green economy is the stimulation and growth of sustainable sources of renewable energy. South Africa has some of the best conditions for solar energy in the world, and sufficient wind-energy potential to supply our energy needs.


The Department of Science and Technology has adopted the field of climate change as one of its Grand Challenges. It is important for all of us to understand the causes and impact of climate change, so that we can be empowered to become responsible citizens and to make changes in our lives that will improve not only our environment but also our quality of life. This behavioural change in society is crucial to a sustainable future.


South Africa’s tourist attractions include scientific sites. More than 5 million people annually visit the national parks that are managed by SANParks. In other words, these people spend their leisure time exploring life and environmental sciences. This includes visitors to the Addo Elephant National Park that offers wildlife viewing over a road stretch of about 120 kilometres (km) in the Eastern Cape (about 41 km from Port Elizabeth).


On the one hand, travelling the world these days has been made easy by the use of navigation technologies. When planning a tour, google maps are available to enable potential tourists to have a bird’s-eye view of tourist attraction areas. On the other hand, getting lost while on a tour is now a thing of the past.


Science tourism gives us an opportunity to showcase to the public the investment of government in the development of research infrastructure.


Research infrastructure from government investment includes the Square Kilometre Array and the state-of-the-art facilities under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) such as laboratories and pilot plants that enable the translation of research into solid scientific output such as technology demonstrators and intellectual property.


Today I toured two research facilities on the Summerstrand campus of the university where I visited the Centre for High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (CHRTEM) and the Institute for Chemical Technology.


Today I also launch a publication called “Because science is fun: Stories of emerging female scientists”. The booklet presents stories of 25 women scientists who went through their different journeys to become scientists. All the 25 women are PhD graduates.


Science tourism begins at school. The formal learning of science in the classroom is a structured scientific learning tour aimed at creating a learning society. In the South African school system context, the tour is structured on the basis of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS). This scientific learning tour progresses beyond the school system into the higher education system.


Science education research shows that learners’ interest in science is boosted by excursions to scientific sites like botanical gardens, zoos, museums and science centres. Visits to such places provide learners with alternatives and practical explanations of some curriculum concepts, improving learners’ understanding in that regard. It is in this context that the DST supports 34 science centres in the country.


It remains only for me to thank the Eastern Cape government for being part of the preparations for the launch event and facilitating the participation of learners, educators and the parents who are members of the schools governing bodies, Nelson Mandela University for hosting this event, the science centres community in the Eastern Cape for committing their staff to support the launch preparations, and the 80 exhibitors who voluntarily committed their precious time to communicate science to the people of the Eastern Cape.


This launch marks the beginning of the NSW 2017 celebrations. I encourage all to participate in the NSW organised activities.