BRICS science ministers meet in Brazil

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By- SAnews.gov.za

Pretoria – Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has joined her BRICS counterparts in Brazil for a two-day science, technology and Innovation (STI) ministerial meeting.

The first BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting was held in Cape Town last year, in line with the decisions of the eThekwini Declaration and Action Plan adopted at the 5th BRICS Summit in March 2013.

It was agreed at the first meeting that cooperation among BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] members would focus on medicine and biotechnology, the exchange of information on STI policies and programmes, the promotion of innovation and technology transfer, food security and sustainable agriculture, high-technology zones/science parks and incubators, nanotechnology and high-performance computing.

The ministers also decided to establish five thematic working areas, with each BRICS member providing leadership in one of them.

South Africa will take the lead in astronomy, while Brazil will lead in the area of climate change and natural disaster mitigation, Russia in water resources and pollution treatment, India in geospatial technology and its applications, and China in new and renewable energy efficiency.

At this week’s meeting in Brasilia, which will conclude on Thursday, Minister Pandor and her counterparts will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in science, technology and innovation.

The MoU will facilitate the sharing of experience, expertise and resources between the BRICS partners as they seek to put science, technology and innovation at work in the service of sustainable as well as equitable growth and development.

Cooperation between BRICS members will include training and exchange programmes for scientists, especially young researchers; joint funding mechanisms for collaborative research and development; as well as policy dialogues on science and innovation.

Speaking before her departure, Minister Pandor said: “The BRICS grouping is one of our most strategic alliances for international cooperation.

“I look forward to engaging with my counterparts from these nations to ensure science and technology is put at the heart of not only the BRICS’s own economic partnership but that through our cooperation, we also harness research and innovation to optimally contribute to Africa’s development.”