Stellenbosch University (SU) has entered the realm of academic diplomacy and policy development with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to help foster the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.
The agreement was signed on behalf of SU by the Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Eugene Cloete, and Prof Oliver Ruppel, Director: Development and Rule of Law Programme (DROP). The other partners who signed the MoU on 10 October 2019 were the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt).
Prof Cloete said at the signing that DROP and SU at large together with these organisations were breaking ground in Africa in terms of SDG diplomacy, providing policy makers with non-prescriptive but highly qualified policy advice.
DROP, which was established in 2012, 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 focus at DROP 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," Prof Ruppel commented.
On behalf of 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.
The main objective of the new partnership is to implement the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 sustainability agenda with regard to policy development projects effectively. As a first project, the partners will team up on the issue of land degradation[i] neutrality (SDG target 15.3) and sustainable soil management on the African continent.
The project is financially supported by the German Ministry for Development Cooperation, through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit. It aims to develop a Model Legislation for Sustainable Soil Management in Africa.
PAP and DROP are supported by the German Environment Agency, 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 to team up in SDG diplomacy and policy development for the benefit of the African continent and beyond.
For more information on DROP, please visit: https://drop.sun.ac.za/
(PHOTO: An area of degraded land in Ethiopia. Georgina Smith / CIAT.)
[i] Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or disturbance to the land perceived to be deleterious or undesirable