International Symposium on Mobility, Migration, Development and Environment
Pretoria, 31 May 2012 – On the 22nd and 23rd of May 2012, the University of South Africa hosted the 2012 International Symposium on Mobility, Migration, Development and Environment (MOMIDEN) in partnership with Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Université de Paris-Sud, Université Jean-Moulin, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and Université Libre de Bruxelles.
The conference, which attracted high-level academia and international public servants from all over the globe, focused on expanding the current debate around migration, particularly within the context of climate change and its relationship to population flows and development obstacles.
Addressing participants at the opening of the conference, UNISA Principal and vice-Chancellor, Prof Mandla Makhanya, remarked that globalisation has led to the internationalisation of people as much as products. He explained that “(p)eople not only travel to where the work is… we find that people who were not able to before, are travelling to where security is, where perceived prosperity is and where the climate offers more conducive prospects of substance”. He further said that “there is an emergence of a growing category of migrants whom we characterise as environmental migrants… people whose living spaces have been rendered unliveable by environmental hazards and disasters, as a result of climate change”.
The French Ambassador to South Africa, HE Mr Jacques Lapouge, welcomed conference guests at a cocktail reception on Monday evening in Pretoria. In his address to guests, Ambassador Lapouge expressed the relevance of this topic for France, particularly because the Embassy currently supports both South African government and civil society through police cooperation in the form of migration policy assistance and aid in the fight against human trafficking and the protection of people on the move, as well as through Development Assistance to NGO’s such as ARESTA, who work with refugees and migrants living in South Africa.
Ambassador Lapouge further reiterated the primary importance of university cooperation between French and South African higher education institutions which, he noted, would hopefully benefit from collaboration initiatives such as the MOMIDEN Symposium. In this spirit, the Ambassador expressed his desire to see more research partnerships between UNISA and its French counterparts, reminding them that the Embassy, along with the South African Department of Sciences and Technology, would soon be launching the 2012 PROTEA Call for Project Proposals. Furthermore, he urged guests to take full advantage of the reciprocal Cross Seasons which will commence with the French Season in South Africa during June 2012.