Green Talents: an international forum on sustainable development
Sustainability is his area of research. Dr Owen Horwood from Johannesburg, South Africa is an environmental expert and winner of the Green Talent competition for young scientists. He talks about his experiences at the International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development, an annual event hosted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Undoubtedly sustainable development is a global undertaking and demands joint efforts by scientists of various disciplines as well as political decision-makers. This international and interdisciplinary approach is supported by the Green Talents competition, an exchange programme on sustainability issues that is organised by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and that especially addresses young experts working in the field of environmental and sustainability research.
Dr Owen Horwood, water-resource management expert from Johannesburg, South Africa, became a ‘Green Talent’ in 2011. We had the chance to talk with him about his experience in Germany and what he expects of future exchange opportunities with his host country.
Becoming a Green Talent for Sustainability
The Oxford PhD graduate Owen Horwood had read about the Green Talent competition in a newsletter of the Water Institute of South Africa and decided to apply: ‘With my interdisciplinary academic background, I concur with the present German approach that economic, environmental and social aspects are all equally important when looking for sustainable solutions.’ In fact, the Green Talents competition takes into account scientific and cultural plurality in developing global solutions.
Horwood became one of the Green Talents selected by a jury of German experts from academia and industry, who annually select 25 candidates from a large number of applicants from all over the world. During a ten-day science forum in Germany, the awardees visit renowned institutions of sustainability research. Another match-making aspect of the forum is the opportunity to meet German specialists in the scientists' respective field of interest during individual expert meetings.
Green Talents 2011
Sustainability in Practice
The year after their visit, the Green Talents have the chance to conduct a research stay at an institution of their choice. Owen Horwood's choice was the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) where he stayed for two months. ‘Having studied at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, the HCE was a logical choice for me to compare and contrast approaches to emerging environmental risks, scarcities and potential pressure points in socioeconomic and ecological systems as well as the measures that should be taken to adapt research models to influence decision-making.’
Horwood also emphasises the integrated approach of the institution and explains that sustainability science would draw from the natural as well as the social sciences and needs this interaction to analyse and interpret issues relating to the changing environment. According to him, the HCE was well positioned to nurture the emergence of this integrated science and presented the University’s research capacity in this very relevant field.