Conference advances the understanding of global change

The Department of Science and Technology's Ten-Year Innovation Plan for South Africa (2008-2018) identified science and technology in response to global change, especially climate change, as one of five "Grand Challenges" for the national system of innovation (NSI) to tackle over the next decade.

The global change research and policy communities resolved to hold a conference every two years to reflect on progress and to showcase developing trends and technologies in this area.

The 3rd Global Change Conference is currently under way in Durban. From 5 to 8 December professionals and researchers will be discussing the latest research, technology and proposed strategic solutions to global change.

Addressing more 300 delegates at the official opening of the conference, Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde, Deputy Director-General: Research Development and Support at the DST, said that the participants could make South African research in global change globally competitive.

"In a decade, South Africa became globally competitive in astronomy. With your help and dedication, we have no doubt at all that we can do the same in this domain of research," said Dr Auf der Heyde.

He highlighted the technological drivers and achievements in global change science, such as the establishment of the Waste Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Portfolio Management Unit (PMU) in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, as well as the Water RDI PMU in partnership with the Water Research Commission (WRC).

"Since its inception in 2015, the Waste RDI PMU has invested R8,4 million in the NSI," he said. "This may appear to be a small investment, but it is the first time that government has concentrated research funds in this sector."

The first 10 honours students from the newly established honours degree in Waste Management at North West University have graduated. The course is now in its second year and available as a part-time offering to encourage municipalities to upskill their officials.

The Water Technologies Demonstration Platform, WADER, another joint project with the WRC, has demonst rated two water-saving devices in partnership with the South African Local Government Association. The first is a device that cuts off water supply if a leak is detected, and the second is a low-flush toilet.

Dr Auf der Heyde assured delegates that the DST would continue to invest in measures to address the global change challenge, especially as some developed economies were failing to invest in it for questionable ideological reasons.

Dr Gansen Pillay, the CEO of the National Research Foundation (NRF), spoke about the NRF's research funding focus areas � human capital development, fundamental research and environmental/social transformation.

Prof.Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, delivered a lecture reflecting on climate change adaptation science from a developing country perspective. He encouraged young scientists and researchers to enter this emerging field.

Source: Department of Science and Technology

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