The global war against oceans plastic pollution has been given yet another boost with the launch of a new plastic waste academy in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, this week.
The African Marine Waste Network Academy, an initiative of the Sustainable Seas Trust and funded by the Norwegian government, was launched at a day long ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela University on Tuesday, 24 April 2018.
The Nelson Mandela University is settled on the seashore of the Indian Ocean, one of three oceans surrounding the country at the most southern tip of Africa – the Southern Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean to the west – and which together combine to form a 3200 kilometer coastline and attaching to which is a 1.5 million square kilometers (km²) of an exclusive economic zone to which South Africa has control.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has direct statutory responsibility for environmental integrity of this vast ocean space particularly in terms of pollution prevention by sea going vessels, inclusive of plastic waste.
In Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, it was announced that the new African Marine Waste Network Academy’s work will involve research, education and capacity building, economic incentives and enterprises development as well as communication and networking.
Guests attending the launch included Norway’s Ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen, British High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr John Wade-Smith, academics from South Africa and Norway among whom were the Nelson Mandela University Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Leitch, director of the African Marine Waste Networking group and CEO of Sustainable Seas Trust, Dr Anthony Ribbink and about 70 others, among them government, non-government, business and civil sectors representatives.
In a statement announcing the launch this week, the partners to the initiative described the setting up of the academy for the Africa region as a timely intervention especially in a continent fast assuming the dubious ranking of having the most polluted marine and maritime environment.
Apparently, no less than 700 kilograms of plastic waste was entering and accumulating in the seas on a daily basis, it emerged, with predictions that the mass of plastics in the oceans around the world would exceed that of fish in only 30 years from now.
“Plastic has a detrimental impact on all marine life and our environment and this negatively affects the livelihood of millions of people and society at large. The African Marine Waste Network was established in 2016 to address the issue of marine waste at pan-African level, and aims to facilitate collaboration between people and organizations across borders,’ said the parties in the statement.
In 2017, the city of Port Elizabeth hosted the first ever African Marine Plastic Pollution conference to focus the continent on the problem and in finding solutions going forward. Some 42 African countries since became members of the African Marine Waste Network group.
Last month in Pretoria, the Norwegian government announced a R1.3-million sponsorship for the launch and work of the new academy. This followed an announcement by the Norwegian government of a NOK150-million fund to be dedicated to fighting plastic pollution worldwide. At the time, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Børge Brende said the Africa region would be one of the focus areas of the fund.
In Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, the parties to the African Marine Waste Network Academy initiative explained what the first priorities of the academy would be in the sponsorship period.
Among these will be the launch of a feasibility study in the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) area over a six months period to test ideas and develop proof of concepts.
“The feasibility study will involve cutting edge research to generate much needed data on the amount of waste in catchments, rivers and estuaries in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, deploying drones and other innovative technology to achieve this.
Norwegian ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen said lessons learned through the exercise will be shared “with a view to scale up and roll out long-term initiatives from 2019 to stem the flow of marine debris from Africa and its island states into the oceans.
‘Only by sharing the experiences and knowledge will we be able to find sustainable solutions to global challenges. Dr Ribbink and his team are leading the way to saving the oceans. Norway is proud to be a sponsor of SST and a partner to the African Marine Waste Network. We sincerely hope others too will support their activities,” said.
For a six minutes interview with Ms Skymoen, Click on the video below.
In a separate development, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) is earmarked as home to Africa’s first Waste Academy.
Pretoria: 22 March 2018
Continued high level research collaboration between South Africa and Norway will see the two countries pumping an additional R60.8-million in 2018 into research focused specifically on oceans and the blue economy in both countries.
This emerged a week ago during the release of a call to researchers, academics and students in both countries to file applications for funding under the programme, now in its fourth phase since about 16 years.
Known as SANOCEAN and based on an agreement ratified between the countries a month ago, the programme is focussed on three areas of research – the oceans/blue economy, climate change and the environment and sustainable energy.
In a parallel development, Norway has committed other funding to development of a plastic waste scientific research and community empowerment initiative that will also involve the establishment of the first of its kind Africa Waste Academy in Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape, over the next five years.
This latter initiative, announced at the Norwegian embassy in Pretoria on Monday, is being undertaken through the Sustainable Seas Trust, a Port Elizabeth-based independent nongovernmental institution headed by Dr Anthony Ribbink as chief executive officer.
The Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) was the host last year of the inaugural Africa Marine Waste Conference in Port Elizabeth – and the first of three held in country in 2017 – and among whose outcomes was the founding of the Africa Marine Waste Network (AMWN) involving close on 40 countries in the region.
This, according to the parties to the latest initiative, comes against the backdrop that marine waste studies worldwide have found that Africa is ‘the second-most littered continent on the planet, with predictions that by 2050, it will take the top spot.’
On Monday in Pretoria, the Norwegian government announced that it would be providing initial funding totalling just over R1.2-million to the Africa plastic waste research and community development initiative.
Norwegian ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen said: “This grant agreement is for a ‘Combating Marine Waste in Africa’ feasibility study, to be conducted by the Sustainable Seas Trust and the African Marine Waste Network on or before 31 October (2018).”
She said further detail on the joint venture with SST and AMWN would be shared in a month’s time during a gathering scheduled for Port Elizabeth.
(For a full interview with Dr Anthony Ribbink of SST and Dr Karl Klingsheim of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa, please click on the video below)
Meanwhile, a few days earlier, Norway and South Africa announced the SANOCEAN initiative, in terms of which ‘approximately 40 million Norwegian krune (NOK) will be available (NOK 30 mill. from Norway and ZAR 15 Mill. from South Africa) for oceans and blue economy research beginning this year.
In terms of the arrangement, no less than 50% of the total funding should go to the South African partner in each of the identified thematic areas of the project, and each of which is intended to stimulate increased research collaborations, and exchanges between Norway and South Africa.
The thematic areas include Ocean Space and the Blue Economy, Environment Climate System and impacts on society, Sustainable Energy, and Filing of research data.
The research project in terms of the agreement ratified on 09 February 2018, runs for six years from this year through to 2023
“The first year (2018) is earmarked for completing the grant agreement(s) with the implementing agencies, prepare and launch the one and only call for grants, assess incoming proposals and allocate grants.
“The next three to four years (2019 -2022) will be the grant implementing period and the final year (2023) for reporting and finalising the programme,” say the parties in a statement
“The new bilateral research co-operation programme aims to strengthen research in these areas in both countries. Ocean space and the blue economy is a strategic priority for both South Africa and Norway as reflected by the launching of Operation Phakisa, which aims to fast-track solutions on critical development issues in South Africa, and the recent White Paper on the place of the oceans in Norway’s foreign and development policy.
“Norway and South Africa also recognise the threat of dangerous climate change and work towards achieving the decisions taken during the 2015 Paris agreement, calling for continued knowledge production on climate change, the environment and renewable energies.
“Research in all these fields should provide a renewed basis for cooperation, innovation, and the pursuit of profitable business opportunities for both countries,” say the parties to the SAOCEAN agreement.
Meanwhile, according to Dr Karl Klingsheim, counsellor at the Norwegian embassy in South Africa, the two initiatives are part of a broader research investment funding by Norway jointly with various parties in which South African in particular can tap in.
He provided the list of research funds available as follows:
SANOCEAN (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/SANOCEAN/1254033164010/p1184150364108?visAktive=true
The goal of the bilateral SANOCEAN research program (“South Africa – Norway Co-Operation on Ocean Research including blue economy, climate change, the environment and sustainable energy”) is enhanced knowledge-based policies and decisions for sustainable development in the areas of oceans and ocean space (blue economy), environment (with emphasis on oceans and pollution), climate change and sustainable energy in South Africa and Norway. Particular attention shall be paid on aspects leading to income generation and provide selling arguments to producers, service providers as well as young entrepreneurs. The research needs to be relevant to South African and Norwegian priorities. On a wider scale, the programme shall aim to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The primary objective of the “Programme for Environmental Research for a Green Transition” (MILJØFORSK) is to strengthen the knowledge base for sustainable development and the transition to a green society. The MILJØFORSK programme is the Research Council’s primary environmental research initiative and encompasses the land-based environment, fresh water and air. The programme will generate new knowledge about biodiversity, cultural environments, ecosystem services, hazardous substances and pollution, among other topics. It will also study pressures on the environment and the relationships between social and natural drivers/responses and measures. In addition, the programme will generate more knowledge about key environmental challenges and provide the government administration, trade and industry, and society at large with a better foundation on which to take decisions to promote a green transition.
NORGLOBAL2 (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/NORGLOBAL2/1254025180071
The primary objective of NORGLOBAL2 (“Norway – Global Partner”) is to produce research-based knowledge of high quality on poverty reduction and sustainable development informing development policies, development programmes, private sector investments and further research. As the world gathers around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), knowledge based on high quality research on international development can be crucial to ensure progress. NORGLOBAL-2 will have a challenge-based approach, where researchers are invited to develop projects that address challenges within broadly defined areas. To ensure research of high quality and relevance, this will usually require co-production of knowledge between researchers in the North and in the South, and the cooperation between several disciplines. Active collaboration is encouraged with researchers in collaborative countries for Norwegian Overseas Development Assistance.
INT-BILAT (open-ended): forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/INTBILAT/1253997815241
“International bilateral research cooperation” (INT-BILAT) offers travel support to expand industry-oriented R&D cooperation with Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the US. Bilateral cooperation provides access to global knowledge production and helps to ensure that Norway benefits from the results of international research. Calls for proposals under this activity may address all or some of these countries. They may be directed towards certain target groups and may encompass travel support, fellowships and support for events.
INTPART (deadline 25 April): https://www.forskningsradet.no/en/Funding/INTPART/1254007331831
The objective of the INTPART programme (“International partnerships for excellent education, research and innovation”) is to develop world-class research and education in Norway through long term international cooperation. The programme will create a framework for expanding cooperation between research groups considered to be at the international forefront today or that are believed to have the potential to become world leaders in their fields in the future. The programme will help to increase the extent and enhance the quality and relevance of scientific cooperation with selected countries, in particular by establishing strong ties between higher education and research cooperation. It will also pave the way for cooperation with the business and public sectors, when relevant. The programme will ensure that its portfolio covers all eight countries: Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa and the USA, and encompasses both new and established partnerships. (Application must come from the Norwegian partner.)
UTFORSK (deadline 25 September): https://www.siu.no/eng/Programme-information/Cooperation-outside-the-EU/utforsk
The UTFORSK programme aims to enhance long-term cooperation in higher education between Norway and Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia and South Africa. It support academic partnerships based on the mutual, strategic interests of the institutions and aims to enhance the quality of international cooperation in education by encouraging integration with research cooperation and involvement of non-academic partners. The objectives are to establish and strengthen educational partnerships between institutions in Norway and the partner countries through: development and implementation of joint educational activities; increased mobility of students, including internships/work placements; increased integration of higher education and research; and increased involvement of non-academic partners. (Application must come from the Norwegian partner.)
InternAbroad (deadline 25 September): https://www.siu.no/eng/Programme-information/Cooperation-outside-the-EU/internabroad
The objective of InternAbroad is to increase the number of students from Norway who do a credit-yielding internship or work placement abroad, where they get practical experience in a job, enhance intercultural competencies and language skills, and acquaint themselves with work environments and business cultures in a foreign country. As a result, students will benefit from a more relevant education, and companies and organisations will benefit from access to a pool of talented students who may become future employees. The internships may be undertaken in any form of business or organisation, whether it is small or large, private or public, for-profit or non-profit. The internships must take place in one or more of the partner countries: Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Canada or USA. (Application must come from the Norwegian partner.)
ErasmusPlus (open ended): http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/about_en
Erasmus+ will support transnational partnerships among Education, Training, and Youth institutions and organisations to foster cooperation and bridge the worlds of Education and work in order to tackle the skills gaps we are facing in Europe. It will also support national efforts to modernise Education, Training, and Youth systems. In the field of Sport, there will be support for grassroots projects and cross-border challenges such as combating match-fixing, doping, violence and racism. Erasmus+ brings together seven existing EU programmes in the fields of Education, Training, and Youth; it will for the first time provide support for Sport. As an integrated programme, Erasmus+ offers more opportunities for cooperation across the Education link to another EC website, Training link to another EC website, Youth link to another EC website, and Sport link to another EC website sectors and is easier to access than its predecessors, with simplified funding rules.
The PES2020 scheme (“Project Establishment Support directed towards H2020”) is one of several funding instruments employed by the Norwegian Research Council to strengthen Norwegian participation under H2020 and improve returns in the form of greater project funding from H2020. The EU funding arena is highly competitive, and it takes knowledge, time and resources to prepare good project proposals. The PES2020 scheme is designed to relieve some of the cost burden for Norwegian applicants related to the preparation of project proposals. The scheme is also designed to raise the overall competence of Norwegian applicants with regard to participation under H2020, as well as to: enhance the quality of the proposals submitted; increase the number of proposals involving Norwegian participants; and encourage participation of new applicants in EU projects.
A call for funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020: RISE supports mobility and exchange of research and innovation staff, incl. managerial, technical and administrative staff between institutions in different sectors or with research institutions in countries outside of Europe. The RISE scheme promotes international and cross-sector collaboration through exchanging research and innovation staff, and sharing knowledge and ideas from research to market (and vice-versa). The scheme fosters a shared culture of research and innovation that welcomes and rewards creativity and entrepreneurship and helps to turn creative ideas into innovative products, services or processes.
A call for funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020: Individual Fellowships (IF) are awarded to the best researchers at postdoctoral level, of any nationality, for 12-24 months employment in EU Member States or Associated Countries. Fellowships take form of European or Global Fellowships. Global Fellowships have a mandatory 12 month return period. The goal of the Individual Fellowships is to enhance the creative and innovative potential of experienced researchers, wishing to diversify their individual competence in terms of skill acquisition through advanced training, international and intersectoral mobility. Individual Fellowships provide opportunities to researchers of any nationality to acquire and transfer new knowledge and to work on research and innovation in Europe (EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries) and beyond. The scheme particularly supports the return and (re)integration of European researchers from outside Europe and those who have previously worked here, as well as researchers displaced by conflict outside the EU and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. It also promotes the career restart of individual researchers who show great potential.
A call for funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions in Horizon 2020: MSCA COFUND offers co-funding for regional, national or international fellowship programmes on doctoral and postdoctoral level, where transnational mobility is part of the action. The COFUND scheme aims to stimulate regional, national or international programmes to foster excellence in researchers’ training, mobility and career development, spreading the best practices of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. This will be achieved by co-funding new or existing regional, national, and international programmes to open up to, and provide for, international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary research training, as well as transnational and cross-sectoral mobility of researchers at all stages of their career.
Visjon 2030 (in Norwegian only) skal avlaste risiko i utviklings- og pilotfasen. Bedrifter som søker oppfordres til samarbeid med humanitære organisasjoner, forskningsinstitusjoner eller andre bedrifter for å sikre lokal markedskompetanse og forankring. Partnerskapet skal bidra til at innovasjonsprosjektet utvikler et produkt det er behov for og som lar seg kommersialisere. Vi ser etter bedrifter som kan tilby innovative løsninger knyttet til helse og utdanning, og som kan bidra til å redusere fattigdom i utviklingsland. Søknadsfrist 20. april.
SAIS, the Southern Africa Innovation Support programme, is a regional development initiative that supports the growth of new businesses through knowledge, networks and entrepreneurship. Are you an innovation support organization from research/academia, civil society or perhaps from private sector such as an innovation hub, lab, incubator or accelerators? Do you support entrepreneurs and startups and have partners in the SADC region and beyond? SAIS Call for Proposals in 2018 is open 12.3.2018 – 25.4.2018 and is targeting projects under three thematic areas, Stronger Ecosystems, Scaling Enterprises and Inclusive innovations.
EUROSTARS is the only European funding programme to be specifically dedicated to support R&D-performing SMEs in their innovative R&D projects. With its bottom-up approach, it stimulates international collaborative research and innovation projects that will be rapidly commercialized. A EUROSTARS project must have a civilian purpose and be aimed at the development of a new product, process or service.
Establishment of clusters in South Africa’s maritime economic sector could have far more advantages for business owners in the sector than is derived by companies operating in isolation and in silos as is currently the case now. Among other things, the existence of a cluster would rather than eliminate competition, create synergies characterized by greater co-operation with shared benefits along values chains.
This was the strongest sentiment to emerge on the first day of a two day seminar on Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economy – Exploring opportunities towards a national maritime cluster for South Africa – attended by a range of thought leaders from South Africa and on Norway, on the need for development of clusters in the country’s maritime sector.
Several speakers, among them Ms Judy Beaumont, acting Director-General of the Department of Environmental Affairs, Dr Malek Pourzanjani, CEO of SAIMI and Mr Prasheen Maharaj, CEO of Shipyards said the launch of Operation Phakisa: Ocean Economic in 2014 provided South Africa an ideal platform upon which industry in the country’s maritime economic sector and government could collaborate to ensure rapid and sustainable development of the sector for the benefit of all South Africans.
Crucial to it all, however; was intentional and determined engagement both within the maritime business sector with a view to establishing effective collaborative channels, but also between the sector and the public sector.
Ms Beaumont outlined the nature and purpose of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) programme as well as the milestones achieved to date since its formal launch in 2014. She described the programme as intended to both develop and transform the sector for integration into the country’s mainstream economy for the benefit of all South Africans.
According to Ms Beaumont, the initiative has certain characteristics among which is the need for speed in implementing identified projects, but also the work undertaken jointly through cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders.
In his adress Dr Pourzanjani said; “This seminar is being held under the banner of Operation Phakisa to explore the establishment of a national maritime cluster. As with Operation Phakisa itself, the success of such a cluster will depend on the involvement and collaboration of all maritime role-players and sectors – it is not something that a single entity or authority can make happen on their own.”
According to Dr Pourzanjani, industrial clusters are not a new phenomenon and already exist in some other business and industrial sectors, such the country’s motor manufacturing, tourism and other services industries.
In Europe, he said; the European Network of Maritime Clusters drew its membership from 17 countries and just two weeks ago had met with the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, where optimism was expressed that “maritime clusters are blooming across Europe”.
These maritime industries, according to Dr Pourzanjani accounted for about five-million jobs and just less than five percent of the E.U’s G.D.P.
He said:” The value of clustering lies in their supportive environment for collaboration and innovation, which in turn assists industrial and small business development, employment creation, and overall value-added economic growth.”
Mr Maharaj said a currently dominant sense of self-preservation and advancement among especially what he described as a “few large companies and few Government employees” was not helping South Africa’s cause as the attitude to business development enabled only a handful to live well “while millions of our people are left jobless and poor.”
According to Mr Maharaj, quoting Algeria president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as newly appointed head of ECOWAS, “Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed.”
He said: “Through Operation Phakisa, the Government is unveiling a new Marine Manufacturing and Industrial policy framework. This policy focuses on opportunity, growth and innovation in niche markets where South Africa can compete.
“It recognizes the value of marine transportation as an important industrial infrastructure, with environmental as well as economic benefits. And it focuses on partnerships, as it is only by working together that we can succeed. So the key to success is collaboration to drive innovation, resulting in greater efficiency and competitiveness.”
The same view was shared by Mr Peter Miles co-founder and executive of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Maritime Cluster established some three or so years ago.
According to Mr Miles, each of the port cities along the coast of South Africa should have a maritime cluster and through which a national cluster could be anchored, with a coordinating role. He suggested also that there should be a fund established to assist the formation and ongoing administration of the clusters.
According to Mr Miles, the funding could be raised through a rand-for-rand contribution from both the public and private sectors.
Meanwhile, a host of Norwegian industry, research and education experts have and continue to share their experience of clusters in that country’s maritime economic sector, with their overwhelming message being that South Africa’s sustainable success with its Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) will depend largely on such collaborative structures.
Led by Norway’s ambassador to South Africa, Ms Trine Skymoen, the Norwegian continent includes Ms Anne Lene Dale, Director for Economic and Commercial Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ing Alf Egil Jense of the Norwegian Science & Technology, Dr Aase Kaurin of the Norway Research Council, Mr Svein Fjose of Menon Economic), and Dr Kristin Wallevik, the Dean of the University of Agder.
The two day seminar wraps up with a tour of the port of Port Elizabeth on Tuesday afternoon.