MUT and its US partner prepare for a ground-breaking Summit that MUT will host in July

Seated, Dr Victor Ibeanusi; and MUT’s DVC: Research, Innovation and Engagement (RIE), Professor Nokuthula Sibiya; and FAMU and MUT staff at a meeting off campus

In a meeting that took place a couple of months ago at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), Dr Victor Ibeanusi, Dean, School of Environment, appealed to the MUT delegation to join hands with his organisation, and be part of the effort that seeks to do something to save humanity from the global challenges that are becoming so common, and so destructive. These challenges are threatening to rob humanity of the most essential needs – water, food, energy, and are ravaging the climate.   According to Dr Ibeanusi, the solution to these problems is to gather like-minded professionals and drive a plan that will reverse the problems, and secure the future. Science and innovation is a part of the plan. The plan is a form of a Summit, which FAMU has been running for a few years. The Summit focuses on these problematic areas. The Summit is called EnergyWaterFoodClimate Nexus International Summit. Dr Ibeanusi describe the EnergyWaterFoodClimateNexus, as “a new science enterprise that is designed to expand the research frontier for discoveries that integrate systems-based research and education for solutions to the vexing challenges on our environment”.

The week of 5-8 February 2024, has seen the FAMU representatives – Dr Ibeanusi and Dr Oluchi Leslie and the MUT team, doing shuffle consultations with various influential individuals in various sectors of the society – the education sector, the government sector, and the private sector, delivering a very important message – that those in the know, and are in positions that allow them to take decisions, must band together to save humanity from the adverse effects of global warming. It is vital to point out that that during his presentation to various stakeholders, Dr Ibeanusi said that FAMU’s School of the Environment was convening the series of global summits “to recruit and train a new generation of leaders ready to solve the challenges of the environment, and to promote cross-cutting discussion, scholarship, and collaboration among researchers, students, and entrepreneurs to advance a science, policy, and decision-making”. He said that most importantly, “the Summit creates a platform for global discussions that allow participants to present innovative ideas for sustainable


The 2024 edition of the Summit will be hosted by the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), in Durban. The Summit will take place

University of Zululand’s DVC: Research and Innovation, Professor Nokuthula Kunene, front, fourth from right, shaking hands MUT’s DVC: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya, with FAMU and MUT staff at the northern KwaZulu-Natal university. Dr Victor Ibeanusi is third from left

from 1-4 July.  The theme of the Summit is ‘What we Want is Possible’. All the stakeholders welcomed the message, and the invitation to take part in the Summit.

The first meeting was off campus on 5 February 2024, and then meeting with the University of Zululand representatives at that university the day after, and also meeting with staff of the Moses Kotane Institute, teachers from Umlazi Township schools, and officials from Microsoft and Go Digital, at the Moses Kotane Institute, at the Dube Trade Port, on 7 February.

In all instances, Dr Ibeanusi was consistent with his message. He emphasized the need for all to get involved in the effort to save humanity by first taking part in the Summit and be part of all that is going to happen post Summit. Some of the post Summit action was the publication of the Summit events in the FAMU publication, and the creation of research centres at various locations. Dr Ibeanusi said his firm view was that the Summit should be action driven. “Gone are the days when we would meet at a conference venue, present papers, and then off we go back to our places. The Summit is only the beginning,” he said.

Dr Ibeanusi said the areas of focus for the Summit were achieving soil and carbon goals, improving water quality and quantity, ensuring food security, harnessing big data, achieving zero greenhouse gases (GHG) emission, practicing climate resilient agriculture, have Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven circular economy, among others. “We hope to have tangible outcomes,” said Dr Ibeanusi, when he was defining a difference between a Summit and a conference.

For the Summit to bear the desired results, all the identified stakeholders will have to make the necessary contributions, before, during and after the Summit. In terms of Dr Ibeanusi’s presentation to all the stakeholders, there will have to be experts in various relevant fields of study that will be pillars of the Summit. These will be experts in water research, food research, climate research, and energy research. Dr Ibeanusi and the MUT team appealed to the prospective Summit participants to find experts that will make presentations at the Summit. Dr Ibeanusi said the deadline was the end of February 2024.

During his presentations to all the stakeholders, Dr Ibeanusi emphasised the need for a research hub at MUT and at the University of Zululand. Professor Nokuthula Kunene, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Zululand, said they already had. In his presentation to the MUT team, he said “next time we meet, we should be talking about what the hub does, and look at the outcomes of that”.

The research hubs, called Centres of Excellence, must be able to harness water, energy, food, and climate, to the benefit of everyone, including the environment.  The centres must incorporate innovativeness, which will include turning the waste material into something usable. This is what Dr Ibeanusi called circular economy, where nothing goes to waste.

Dr Ibeanusi appealed to everyone to be a leader in this project. “Africa must lead the way,” he said. Africa is most traumatised by the climate change. For instance, the whole Lake Chad is dried out, said Dr Ibeanusi. The 2025 Summit will be in Hungary.