They were at the opening ceremony of the Science Forum South Africa 2018, themed Igniting Conversation About Science, at the University of Pretoria’s Hillcrest Campus. Global science stakeholders and key influencers were preparing for the summit that kicks off at the CSIR today.
Hosted by the Department of Science and Technology, the fourth edition of the event serves as an open, public platform for debating the science and society interface.
Yesterday, various speakers, including outgoing vice-chancellor of the University of Pretoria Professor Cheryl de la Rey, assistant director-general at Unesco Dr Flavia Schlegel, and Iranian Vice-President for Science and Technology Dr Sorena Sattari, took to the podium to share their excitement.
“For the forum to be more inclusive, more women need to be part of the conversation. Gender equality needs to be heeded in Science and Technology just like in all the other sectors” said Schlegel. De la Rey encouraged young people, especially women, to occupy the science and technology space to create better solutions for the country and globally.
The forum will see about 2500 participants from 60 countries exchange ideas and create a network platform for key science, technology and innovation actors.
There will be 73 exhibitions to elicit future-shaping conversations.
Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi -Ngubane called on delegates to do more to accelerate the accumulation, use and diffusion of scientific knowledge and its application in technological innovations to reshape our world for the better.
She also called for investment in research and development in South Africa. She warned that inadequate resources for research and innovation would deny the government the opportunity to fully tackle social challenges. But in the same breath, she acknowledged President Cyril Ramaphosa’s unwavering support and constant interest in using science to create a better country. “In our president we have a champion for science and technology,” she said. Science enabled people to tackle the ever-growing demand for energy and to communicate with immediate effect, while providing the social and economic foundations for an improved quality of life, she said.
Some 350 speakers, 49 sessions, 44 science talks and global trends towards a more pronounced use of science in policy-making and bridging the roles of scientists and policy-makers allowing for greater stakeholder inclusion are on the agenda.