La KFPE est la plate-forme centrale d’information pour la recherche globaux en Suisse. Elle s’engage en faveur d’une coopération augmentée et équitable avec les pays à revenus faibles et intermédiaires. Elle contribue ainsi au développement durable et à la résolution des défis globaux et locaux.en plus

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Enabling cross-border research

Internationalization is a key objective in the University of Bern’s Strategy 2030. With this in mind, the University Executive Board decided in 2023 that cooperation with African universities and researchers would be one of the focal points.

Initiative Afrique

By Prof. Dr. Hugues Abriel, Vice-Rector for Research

The University of Bern has fostered relationships to researchers in Africa for some time, as underlined by initiatives such as the NCCR North-South (National Centre of Competence in Research, 2001 to 2013) and its successor, the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE). The Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine has also undertaken numerous projects on African health issues. More recently, the Wyss Academy for Nature established a hub in East Africa, particularly Kenya and Madagascar. Furthermore, one must also acknowledge that a significant fraction of our lecturers and students have African heritage and are involved in networks with many African scientists and universities. Finally, one should also pay attention to African youthfulness – more than 60% are below the age of 25, which presents a pool of highly ambitious individuals eager to contribute to the global academic community.

Pooling knowledge thanks to the “Initiative Afrique”

This focal point is now embodied in the “Initiative Afrique” initiated by the Vice-Rectorate Research and Vice-Rectorate Development. This will supplement our other global collaborations and reinforce our commitment to diverse and impactful international relationships. This comprehensive program is aimed at inclusivity and integration. A significant first achievement of the Initiative Afrique in 2023 was the establishment of two Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE) in partnership with The Guild network of European universities and its partner organization, the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA). Prof. C. Faso from the MCID and colleagues from Stellenbosch University will co-lead the “Genomics for Health in Africa” CoRE, while Prof. T. Breu and colleagues from Addis Ababa University will co-lead the “Sustainable Water and Land Resource Management for Human Well-Being” cluster. Additionally, the University of Bern played a significant role as a co-organizer of the XIX Biennial International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) conference in Nairobi, primarily through the efforts of its Institute of Social Anthropology and CDE. The conference was a platform where the University of Bern was able to link together its specialist academic expertise with practical approaches for sustainable commons management.

Cooperation on an equal footing

In addition to these flagship activities, the Initiative Afrique aims to better integrate all research activities from our University, from employees and students connected to Africa or in collaboration with African researchers, thus promoting multidisciplinary synergies. For example, researchers from Bern played a significant role in the development and composition of the seminal “11 Principles for Research in Partnership” from the KFPE over a decade ago – a document which addresses collaboration with countries who have limited resources. A core tenet of our “Initiative Afrique” project is maintaining awareness of these principles to foster genuinely equitable partnerships. By the end of 2023, the “Initiative Afrique” was able to bring together a community of African researchers and students with a group of academics who have a strong interest in issues relating to Africa. This community will serve as a sounding board to guide and prioritize our future activities. As a result, we are very hopeful that the “Initiative Afrique” will significantly enhance our University’s internationalization efforts.


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    Rektorat Universität Bern