Partnership framework for scientific and technological cooperation
The establishment of a Binational Mixed Commission to promote bilateral cooperation was agreed on the occasion of President Mandela's state visit to Germany in 1996. The initiative was the expression of the interest on both sides in developing a long-term and broad-based partnership between the two countries.
Flags of Germany, the European Union and South Africa
The Commission is made up of representatives of the existing six Joint Commissions in the fields of development, defence, environment, economy, science/research, and culture and meets every two to three years. Germany's Foreign Office holds overall responsibility for the Commission within the Federal Government. The Ministries for Economic Cooperation and Development, Defence, Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Economics and Technology, Education and Research and the Cultural Directorate General of the Federal Foreign Office are responsible for the respective Joint Commissions.
The partnership has developed very positively for both sides since the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in research and technology was signed in 1996. Cooperation covers a wide range of research topics determined at the meetings of the Joint Commissions (JC) between the Germany Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) and the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), which now take place on an annual basis.
South African Deputy President Motlanthe with German Development Minister Niebel and Foreign Minister Westerwelle
The most recent Binational Mixed Commission took place in Pretoria in April 2010 and was chaired on the German side by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and on the South African side by the Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The Joint Commission on Science/Research met immediately before the meeting of the Binational Mixed Commission.
Key areas of cooperation
Projects and exchanges
In its specialist programmes, the BMBF mainly supports projects in the fields related to sustainability, such as water, climate, the environment, energy, and biodiversity. Antarctic and marine research are also important areas of cooperation.
Germany's scientific and technological cooperation (STC) with South Africa also includes technological development in areas such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and production technologies.
In addition, there are numerous bilateral collaborations and projects between universities, universities of applied sciences, and non-university research institutions. There are almost 100 cooperation projects between German and South African institutions of higher education. Several German research institutions, such as the Fraunhofer Society, are active in the area of applied research. Joint study programmes between South African and German universities receive administrative and financial support from the National Research Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, and third parties.
The BMBF and DST signed a joint declaration of intent on sustainability research on the occasion of German Research Minister Schavan's visit in 2008. This marked the start of a bilateral process of dialogue which began with the "D4S - Dialogue for Sustainability" conference in Bonn in June 2008.
A follow-up conference, this time in South Africa, took place in October 2009 and identified industry-related sustainability and the sustainable use of resources (for example, land use and mining) as future priorities. It was agreed at the Joint Committee meeting in April 2010 to intensify and continue the dialogue until 2012.
Further countries with which Germany is conducting a dialogue on sustainability research are: Brazil, India, China, and Russia. The dialogue process with South Africa is the most advanced so far.