Partnering with Canadian university

EThekwini Municipality City Manager, Sibusiso Sithole, signed a MOA with the Canadian Simon Fraser University

EThekwini Municipality City Manager, Sibusiso Sithole, recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Canadian Simon Fraser University at the 4th Research Symposium at the International Convention Centre (ICC).

The MOA expresses the intention of the city and the university to work together on various projects focussing on environmental sustainability. As a pilot project, the partnership will be fixed for a year, and will involve the placing of volunteers within the city as part of the Canadian International Youth Internship Programme.

The MOA expands the city’s partnership with universities to an international level, bringing a global perspective to the interaction with tertiary institutions.

The signing took place at the fourth Research Symposium that the city hosts with its current university partners through the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE). Partners include the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the Durban University of Technology, University of South Africa, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Zululand.

More than forty research papers, based on the theme, “Durban, a City in Transformation: Towards an Effective, Inclusive and Sustainable Socio Economic Outcome”, were presented. Topics ranged from urban agriculture and food security to environmental and public health, from transforming local government through e-government, electronic and engineering solutions to enhancing capacity and skills transformation.

The symposium provided a shared platform for practitioners and research organisations to engage with evidence based research outputs that can be used to influence policy and decision making within the municipality. It also provided a networking opportunity to strengthen collaboration and harness innovations, creativity and best practices to improve the quality of life of residents in Durban.

Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala was encouraged by the range and growth of the number of shared platforms and collaborative projects that exist between eThekwini’s line departments and specific faculties across the partnering institutions.

“As a leading NEPAD City, and an active member of the United Cities and Local Government in Africa, our Municipality has played an important leadership role in the coordination of the learning agenda around strategic planning, sustainable development and urban local governance in cities on the continent. So it is very significant that our academic partners work alongside us in ensuring that we support the developmental agenda of not only our city, but our continent as well,” she said.

 Ms Jane McRae, who represented the Simon Fraser University, was excited at the partnership with the City.

“This partnership is an important step in developing our youth and helping them to become global citizens. This is indeed a unique partnership that brings the city and research together to make well informed decisions.”

Vice Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, said: “This is a significant engagement which gives tertiary institutions the platform to expose their post graduate students to the kind of research that both the city and academia need to succeed together. We are trying to grow a new generation of researchers and managers that will take research forward for the city, research that will forge new ground.”

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