PAERIP participation in ICRI 2012
This International Conference on Research Infrastructures held in Copenhagen, Denmark during March 2012 was attended by PAERIP representatives, Prof John Wood (Member of Advisory Committee), Mr Daan du Toit and Dr Anthon Botha.
The event was attended by about 600 delegates, with the focus of the discussions being on global Research Infrastructure (RI). The need for partnerships in conceptualising, developing, building and operating RI was emphasised in the plenary and four parallel sessions that dealt with Health, Climate Change, Energy and e-Infrastructures. Global RI is important to address economic, environmental, health and energy challenges that are not confined by borders. The need for the convergence of RI approaches to support research priorities in the developed and developing world is something that was highlighted. A definite role for developing countries was recognized in the use, setup and sharing of RI.
It was evident that a large political commitment to the importance of RI is increasingly made globally. Several high ranking politicians attended ICRI 2012 and took part in the panel discussions and plenary sessions. ESFRI, the European roadmap for RI, was recognised as a catalyst to many of the discussion and thinking around RI and the importance of roadmaps of this nature was clear.
More than 70 ESFRI and non-ESFRI RI projects exhibited in a poster session. This formed a valuable contact for PAERIP in terms of developing its inventory for European RI that could potentially lead to partnerships with African RI.
Although PAERIP was not officially represented at ICRI 2012, John Wood played a leading role as a plenary session chair, and in summarising the final outcomes of the parallel sessions as presented by the rapporteurs, Daan du Toit was as a member of the Programme Committee, and Anthon Botha acted as rapporteur for the Energy Session. As such an awareness of PAERIP was built among the audience in the plenary session where feedback was given by the rapporteurs.
Energy RI is seen as addressing a global challenge with a high priority. It is a sector that operates very close to the market and as such industry should play a major role in partnering with the public sector to ensure that the energy RI of the future is secured in a timely manner. The social impact of energy RI also lies very close to the community and the individual.
The importance of a strong community for specific RI was highlighted. Building such a community is as important as building the physical facilities that constitute the RI. The mobility of people is an important aspect of global RI and provision must be made to bring people to facilities, but, on the other hand, facilities can by and large be brought to people today by utilising e-infrastructures that connect them to each other and to users. The importance of data and data-related RI has come forward at ICRI 2012. The ability to process vast amounts of data, to send it around the world fast and to store and curate it was emphasised as a new challenge for RI development.
The impression left by ICRI 2012 is that the world is ready to unite on many aspects of RI and PAERIP, looking at specific partnerships between Europe and Africa, has come at the right time.