The Department of Science and Technology (DST) briefed the Committee on potential candidates to fill the vacancies of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Board. After questioning DST on whether the individuals concerned were committed to fulfilling the judicial requirements of the Board as well as the nature of the selection process, the Committee approved the shortlist. The names of the candidates were Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, Mr Harold Mathabathe, Dr Ebrahim Saal and Professor Enrico Juliana.
DST then briefed the Committee on the status of Science and Technology Cooperation with
The Korean Innovation System had significant capacity in science and innovation and
Members asked what was unique to Korea’s innovation system that procured private enterprises; what their incentives and rebates were for researchers in science and technology; how mutual agreements affected intellectual property ownership in joint cooperation of projects; what the priorities were for Korea and how South Africa could benefit Korea; if there was scientific interest in South Africa’s abundant thorium reserves; and if since South Africa was the largest producer of medical isotopes in the world, South Africa would be working with Korea in this field.
Two Members felt that they should be better capacitated with the relevant information and briefed on what was expected of them before they engaged with foreign delegates.
DST then gave a briefing on its role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 17). DST would lead the South African delegation on the Technology Development and Transfer agenda item in the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA). DST would host negotiations on three key technology transfer issues: how the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Change Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) should relate to each other and be accountable to COP; selection criteria and procedures for identifying a host institution of CTCN; and the governance structure of the CTCN.
The Africa Group had been allocated three seats in the TEC. The Africa Group nominated
In preparation for the addition of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) discussions onto the agenda, DST had drafted a document in consideration of IPR principles and explored through the Department of Trade and Industry what
Members asked if DST also played a role in the mitigation, adaptation and financing fields of the AWG-LCA; if other departments were involved in the AWG-LCA; and why the new structures were not relating to the central core, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the UNFCCC.
Members felt that since science and technology played a large role in the climate change debate, DST should also have a leading role in how the communities could benefit from funding for climate change. DST’s response was that DST played a key role with regard to climate change but the presentation was specifically on DST’s role in the COP 17 negotiations. DST was responsible for leading the technology transfer negotiation and its responsibility for climate change went beyond the comparatively small contribution it made with regard to climate change negotiations. DST’s response to climate change was the Global Climate Change Grand Challenge projects, where issues such as water and food security were being addressed. Projects included the Risk and Vulnerability Atlas, the establishment of the Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS) and the establishment of several international global change partnerships. DST could present to the Committee on that particular focus, although it would be too late to do so before COP 17. DST hoped that there would be sustained engagement on climate change issues together with long-term benefits in the communities.
Shortlist of candidates for Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Board vacancies
Mr Thulani Mavuso, DST Chief Operations Officer, said that the challenge was that none of the 17 candidates on the shortlist had financial expertise as required in terms of Section 5 of the Act. Mr Harold Mathabathe (finance expert) and Professor Enrico Juliana (Director of Finance at UCT) had been sourced and were candidates to be considered before the Committee.
The HSRC was also required to have a Member who was a distinguished representative in the Social Science Community on the African Continent. In 2009, Mr Somashekhar and Professor Sawyer met the criteria and Professor Sawyer had taken up the position but had since resigned. Since Mr Somashekhar already met the requirements for the position, the Minister requested that two names should be added for consideration by the Committee, after which the Minister could select one candidate. Dr Ebrima Saal was Head of the Council of Developmental Social Science Research in
Mr P Smith (IFP) asked if the individuals concerned were committed to fulfilling the judicial requirements of the board.
Mr Mavuso replied that DST had established that the potential candidates’ commitment to serving on the board prior to consideration. They had indicated willingness to serve on the board.
Ms M Shinn (DA) asked what the process was for advertising, evaluating and verifying CVs and interrogating the integrity of the nominees, as there had been numerous problems with the process since 2009. These were prestigious appointments and were not lucrative jobs. While she did not have a problem with the candidates, she questioned whether the process was too superficial.
Mr Mavuso replied that DST followed an open process in terms of public nominations and candidates were also recommended by institutions. Prior to submitting candidates’ names to board members for considerations, DST conducted National Intelligence Agency (NIA) clearance. Board members’ circumstances did sometimes change, but DST tried to ensure stability on its boards.
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked if foreign national candidates were vetted before they were appointed to positions in government.
Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) commented that the lives of candidates nominated to the board, including foreign nationals should be fine-combed in the same way.
The Chairperson commented that the HSRC was a research institution of Africa, not of
Mr Mavuso replied that security exercises were followed when considering all nominations. He noted Members’ comments which assisted with enhancing and improving the process of ensuring the integrity of candidates who were nominated. DST was compatible with the four names to be presented to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
Mr Smith moved that the Committee accepted the four names presented to the Committee.
Ms Dunjwa formerly seconded the move.
The Chairperson concluded that the Committee approved the shortlist: Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, Mr Harold Mathabathe, Dr Ebrahim Saal and Professor Enrico Juliana.
Status of Science and Technology Cooperation with
Mr Thomas Auf der Heyde, DST Deputy Director-General: International Cooperation, said that the Science and Technology Cooperative Agreement between
In 2008, Korea’s growth in expenditure for research and development as a percent of GDP was more than three times that of South Africa and Korea’s science and technology system of 436 000 research active individuals was made up of 30 000 individuals from public research institutes, 167 000 from universities and 238 000 from the business sector. The figures showed the enormous influence that the private sector had on national research.
The Korean Innovation System had several globally competitive industries: shipbuilding – complex technology, display panels, cell phone design and manufacture, automobile design and manufacture, steel and steel products. They had significant capacity in science and innovation - communication and broadcast convergence, phase change memory, display panels and equipment and intelligent transport systems (ITS).
Much of the cooperation on nuclear science research - reactors, cyclotrons, pressurized water reactors and nuclear medicine - took place through the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA). The overlap with DST was DST’s Human Capital Development programme for nuclear technology and the nuclear energy. The NECSA institutions involved were SA Fundamental Atomic Research Institute (SAFARI), Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and the High-Flux Advanced Neutron Application Reactor (HANARO).
With regards to Human Capital Development, there was student exchange in space science and technology and astronomy, promotion of fellowships and expert missions in the area of biotechnology, student and scientific exchanges in SA’s hydrogen and fuel cell research and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) had offered scholarships to SA students - nanotechnology researchers at the CSIR had taken up the offer.
The University of the
The space and astronomy communities shared facilities for observation time on Korean and SA telescopes, with particular focus on near earth objects. SA was trying to expand the relationship from bilateral cooperational activity to involve third strategic partner cooperation for mutual benefits with the support of Korea’s significant science and technology strength to leverage development in key partner countries, such as with the African Square Kilometre Array (SKA), additional space geodesy projects and training of post-doctoral students, with particular emphasis on radio-astronomy.
A MOU was signed between CSIR and the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) and a large-scale flagship project was established on New Drug Discovery from Traditional Medicines focusing on technology transfer and best implementation models.
In summary, SA’s strategic focus was on
Ms M Shinn (DA) asked what was unique to
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that he did not have a useful descriptive information of what was unique about their innovation system. He committed to providing the Committee with written input.
Mr Smith asked how mutual agreements affected intellectual property (IP) ownership in joint cooperation of projects.
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that the bilateral agreement stipulated that the IP arrangement would be negotiated between the cooperating parties subject to the relevant national IP regulations. Both countries were assumed to have their own IP laws and regulations (which protected their IP in the national interest) and at the same time allowed and promoted the establishment of strategic partnerships between research institutions which saw mutual benefit in working together to develop their own IP. Institutions safeguarded their contribution in the form of a shared agreement on how a country would benefit from any revenue that may flow. DST provided the framework for IP and the institutions, which had the most vested interest in IP, ensured agreement on IP issues.
Mr Smith asked what the priorities were for
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that bilateral agreements between countries were not signed unless the research cooperation activities were in the interest of both countries. The trick in bilateral negotiations was to identify the areas of mutual interest. Thus these areas, as much as they were in SA interest, were clearly in the interest of
Mr Smith asked if since SA was the largest producer of medical isotopes in the world, SA would be working with
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that SA was a very important player in the radio isotope field internationally (Department of Energy, NECSA) and more recently the Department of Health (nuclear medicine regulations). DST itself did not have a nuclear medicines programme. Currently DST’s role was to ensure that capacity was in place to support research in nuclear science or nuclear technology and to support the Nuclear Build Programme. - a Masters programme with focus on nuclear medicine. The Nuclear Build Programme policy decisions lay outside DST.
Mr Smith asked if there was scientific interest in SA’s abundant thorium reserves.
The Chairperson said that thorium 232 was converted by bombarded with neutrons into uranium 233, which was a fissile nuclear fuel for nuclear energy generation.
Mr Smith added that his question was in relation to the slide on pressurized water reactors.
The Chairperson added that
Ms Dunjwa said that much of the scientific content was not understandable. She requested that in preparation for meeting with
The Chairperson said that the Committee researcher could assist by tapping into information and preparing the Members more adequately.
Ms Mocumi added that when the Members met with the French delegation she was perturbed by the fact that they had not been briefed on what was expected of them in discussions. She believed that the French delegates did not gain from their visit to Parliament. She felt that when Members undertake a visit with delegates from another country, it was the responsibility of the Committee researcher to capacitate them by providing the relevant information.
Ms Dunjwa agreed that Members who led the delegation from Parliament were not well-prepared to engage with the French delegation.
The Chairperson said that it was unfortunate that the French Committee did not inform the Portfolio Committee about their focus. The Portfolio Committee was supposed to ask
Update on DST’s role in COP 17
Mr Auf der Heyde noted that the briefing would be on DST’s role in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 17th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 17) and not about the COP 17 per se. He presumed that the Committee had already been briefed at the highest level by Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on SA’s approach to the COP 17 negotiations. The challenge for
At COP 17, the agenda for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) revolved around the building blocks of mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology. DST would lead the South African delegation on the Technology Development and Transfer agenda item in the AWG-LCA.
In the COP 16 outcome (
The African Group had been allocated three seats in the TEC. The Africa Group nominated
As host in 2011, DST would host negotiations on three key technology transfer issues that COP parties were divided on:
1. How the TEC and CTCN should relate - developed countries suggested that the CTCN should function independently of the TEC but be accountable to, and under the guidance of, COP. However, this independence was unacceptable to the G77 and China Groups, which preferred that CTCN should be accountable to COP while TEC would ensure that accountability.
2. Selection criteria and procedures for identifying a host institution of CTCN – developed countries proposed that the UNFCCC Secretariat should manage the selection of the host, while developing countries felt that the process should be party-driven and managed by the TEC. South Africa and the UAE were requested to draft a document on the selection procedure and evaluation criteria for the CTCN host. The host could be any institution, from research institutions to banks such as the African Development Bank. The process would need to be informed by the UN procurement procedures.
3. The governance structure of the CTCN –The US and
China Group and G77 had agreed to develop and refine the group’s thinking and meet the first day of COP 17 to discuss the inputs and finalise the negotiation position on the three issues. By the end of negotiations of COP 17, TEC and CTCN would be established at a conceptual level.
In preparation of the recent addition of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) discussions into the COP 17 agenda, DST drafted a document in consideration of IPR principles and explored through DTI what SA’s stance was on IPR relative to the UNFCCC within the COP 17 environment. DST was also attempting to establish what the views of
At COP 17, the electric vehicle, the Joule, would promote DST’s work on battery technology, while DTI would demonstrate the Joule as a driver for innovation. A scaled down model of the Mzansi Green City Power Energy Efficiency House would be exhibited as a 3D hologram to showcase alternative energy source technology.
Mr Smith asked if DST also played a role in the mitigation, adaptation and financing fields of the AWG-LCA.
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that technology transfer negotiations needed to be informed by what happened in the other fields and discussions around the CTCN and what it would do were strongly dependent on the outcome of the discussions around the Green Climate Fund. DST did not yet know how the fund would be structured - how much it would be and if there would be funding for infrastructure only or if project finance would be included. During the two week period of negotiations,
Mr Smith asked if other departments were involved in the AWG-LCA.
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that there was partnership between the Departments of Mineral Resources, Transport, Trade and Industry, Environmental Affairs and Science and Technology on all fields of AWG-LCA.
The Chairperson said that science and technology played a large role in the climate change debate and DST should also have a leading role in water and food security.
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that indeed DST played a key role with regard to climate change but the presentation was specifically on DST’s role in the COP negotiations. DST’s response to climate change was the Global Climate Change Grand Challenge projects, where issues such as water and food security were being addressed. Projects included the Risk and Vulnerability Atlas, the establishment of ACCESS and the establishment of several international global change partnerships. DST could present to the Committee on that particular area. Although it would be too late to do so before COP 17, DST hoped that there would be sustained engagement on climate change issues which would have long term effects on the communities.
The Chairperson said that too many structures that were being formed that did not relate to the central core, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the UNFCCC.
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that the structures that emerged had emerged out of the parties coming together and deciding that there were issues that could not be picked up within the existing structures, including the IPCC.
The Chairperson said that in
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that the DEA and DIRCO had driven (or planned to drive) a process of public communication and consultation and had held a series of events in all of the nine regions of SA in an attempt to engage communities and use the hosting of COP to raise awareness about COP.
The Chairperson said that the call for engagement with communities was in 2008, but the process driven by DEA and DIRCO had only commenced in the previous month.
Mr Auf der Heyde replied that in Cabinet discussion, in preparation for COP 17, DEA and DIRCO had been given lead roles and lead agencies both for climate change and for COP 17. DST was specifically responsible for leading the technology transfer negotiation and its responsibility for climate change went beyond the comparatively small contribution it made with regard to climate change negotiations and that was in the form of the Global Climate Change Grand Challenge.
The Chairperson commented that the biggest challenge to climate change lay with the
The meeting was adjourned.
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