Scientists from around the world met in Cape Town last week to discuss how best science can guide sustainable development globally. Hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) Conference and General Assembly 2016 took place from 28 February to 2 March 2016 in Hermanus, under the theme "Science Advice".
There is a growing movement internationally to bring together science advisors to share best practices and form a network to deal with global challenges, such as food security and climate change.
Science is also at the heart of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, integrating the best science into the plans of government and others working towards the SDGs, remains a challenge.
The conference brought scholars from South Africa and abroad together for discussions on science advice as an ecosystem, in times of emergency or disaster, and in the international arena. Country readiness for science advice and the interplay between science advice, politics and the media were also be covered.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony. The conference was funded by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation, among others.
Eminent international speakers included Prof Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Prof Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Science Advisor to the United Nations. Mr David Mair of the European Commission and the Co-Chairs of the IAP, Prof Volker ter Meulen (Germany) and Prof Mohamed Hassan (Sudan), also spoke at the event.
Side events before and during the conference provided several opportunities for expert engagement. These included a workshop on science advice for African scientists, and a workshop on off-grid energy for rural development.
ASSAf, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, also launched a report on Women for Science: Inclusion and Participation in Academies of Science.