Universities across the world are always seeking to make the most of the opportunities afforded to them by forming global partnerships and fostering relationships with other institutions. A newly formed relationship witnessed, The University of Pretoria (UP) signing a memorandum of understanding to collaborate with the Universidad Regional Amazónica Ikiam (University of Ikiam), on research and student and staff exchange projects.
The partnership will allow UP researchers and students, mainly from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, opportunities to collaborate on projects that address global challenges such as sustainable energy, safe water, biodiversity and conservation, climate change and natural disasters.
“Our world has been visited by a pandemic that has changed life as we knew it. The Covid-19 pandemic is not only a disease crisis, but it is also a crisis of society, of the economy, of sustainability and well-being, and of governance on the continent and globally,” said UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tawana Kupe at the online signing of the agreement which took place on the 31st of August 2020.
Prof Kupe added that both universities must do everything in their power to ensure that tangible programmes are developed and resourced. The collaboration with the University of Ikiam is the only one UP has in Ecuador.
“It is in times like these that we as universities are called upon to lead the fight against global challenges and give hope to our people. Noting the global nature and similarity of the challenges we face; it is my firm belief that it can be only through collaborations and partnerships that we will be able to develop lasting solutions. Through collaboration, we will be able to fully exploit our collective strengths, share learnings and maximise on our limited resources,” said Kupe.
The University of Ikiam was established in 2013 and is in the Napo province in the heart of the Amazon. It is the only educational institution that is located within a “living laboratory”, the Colonso Chalupa Biological Reserve. The reserve consists of more than 93,000 hectares of forest and moors, with six ecosystems. Programmes offered by Ikiam University relate to geosciences, ecosystems, water sciences, agro-ecology, biotechnology, sustainable architecture and experimental sciences.
Dr Caroline Bacquet, Rector of the University of Ikiam, said this is the first collaboration that the university has with an African institution. “This is a great milestone for us and one that is historic. We were looking for a universal university so that our students could be open to the world and understand problems at a local and global level,” concluded Bacquet.