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Academic Diplomacy fostering SDG implementation in Africa
Author: Afdeling Navorsingsontwikkeling | Division for Research Development
Published: 16/10/2019

On 10 October 2019 an important cooperation agreement was signed between Stellenbosch University (through its Development and Rule of Law Programme), the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt). With this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Stellenbosch University (SU) enters the realm of academic diplomacy and policy development. On behalf of SU the MoU was signed by Professor Eugene Cloete (Vice-Rector, Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies) and Professor Oliver Ruppel (Director, Development and Rule of Law Programme). 

On behalf of the PAP, the MoU was signed by its President the Rt. Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang. The PAP is an organ of the African Union established to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent with its objectives including to promote peace, security and stability, the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa and encourage good governance. In support of this mandate, SU’s Development and Rule of Law Programme (DROP) which was founded in 2012 is now tasked to cooperate with the PAP in the context of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with regard to policy development projects. The focus here lies on reconciling the tensions between environmental sustainability, economic development, and human welfare, with a view on burning legal, political, economic and social developments in Africa. DROP is affiliated to SU’s Water Institute and the Faculty of Law. Its activities are trans-disciplinary in nature, with a strong legal and socio-political focus on climate change, justice, sustainability and transformation.

The two partners, PAP and DROP are supported by the German Environment Agency (UBA) which is Germany’s central federal authority for environmental matters under the supervision of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Dr Harald Ginzky, a Director at UBA strongly encouraged the MoU between the three parties teaming up in SDG diplomacy and policy development for the benefit of the African continent and beyond.

The main objective of the new partnership is to implement the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 sustainability agenda effectively. As a first project the partners team up on the issue of land degradation neutrality (SDG target 15.3) and sustainable soil management on the continent. The Project is financially supported by the German Ministry for Development Cooperation (BMZ), through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It aims at developing a Model Legislation for Sustainable Soil Management in Africa. Professor Eugene Cloete at the occasion expressed that DROP and SU at large together with UBA are breaking ground in Africa in terms of SDG diplomacy, providing policy makers with non-prescriptive but highly qualified policy advice.

For more information on DROP, please visit: