Science Forum South Africa (Pretoria)
The Science Forum South Africa 2018 will take place in Pretoria during 12-14 December 2018.
Over the past four years, since its first organisation in 2015, the Science Forum South Africa has grown into one of South Africa and indeed the African continent’s largest events with a dedicated focus on science. It is also internationally recognised as the premier African event enabling a broader public debate on the role of science in society, similar to the “open science” events now popular across the world.
The theme for the Science Forum South Africa is “Igniting conversations about Science.” The Forum is not a technical, scientific conference nor a formal, inter-governmental meeting. It is a platform for debate aimed at all stakeholders with an interest in science and the role science should play in South Africa, Africa and indeed globally.
The Forum programme comprises a large number of debates and talks addressing a diverse array of topics related to the science and society interface. The emphasis is on active audience participation in all sessions. The Forum participants include a substantial number of internationals attendees including from other African countries. The 2018 Forum will be preceded by the General Assembly of the African Academy of Science, ensuring the participation of many of Africa’s foremost scientists and thought leaders in the Forum.
The 2018 Forum will take place from Wednesday 12 to Friday 14 December 2018. The opening session on the afternoon of the 12th, due to the large number of anticipated participants (more than 3000), will take place at the University of Pretoria, with the rest of the programme hosted at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR’s) International Convention Centre.
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES OF SFSA2018
The organisation of the Science Forum South Africa is not an objective in its own right, but is rather an instrument to contribute to the attainment of several of the strategic objectives of the Department of Science and Technology, also aligned with the goals also set out in South Africa’s new draft White Paper on science, technology and innovation, namely:
To stimulate a vibrant debate on the role of science, technology and innovation in society,creating a networking platform for key science, technology and innovation actors, including government leaders, academics, scientists, industry, civil society, and students;
To promote international science, technology and innovation partnerships and specifically profile South Africa as a preferred international partner for cooperation in science and innovation –over the years the Forum has been the birthplace for many concrete international partnerships also attracting investment; and
To provide the African continent with an influential platform for debate on the role of science in society, similar to which is being organised in other regions, in support of African cooperation and integration in science, technology and innovation – this role is specifically valued and acknowledged by the African Union and SADC.
FOCUS OF SFSA2018
The theme for the Forum is igniting conversations about science. Under this broad theme, the different sessions, debates and talks organised as part of the Forum, will address key focus areas of the science and society interface such as:
“Shaping Humanity” – the focus here will be on how social sciences shape our human experiences and behaviours to improve the quality for all human beings, and the world we live in, including a better understanding of what is required to uplift people in a sustainable manner.
“Preparing people for the knowledge economy” – the focus here will be on the attitudes, education, experience, and abilities required individually and collectively to succeed in the knowledge economy, with a specific focus on achieving gender and racial balance in an optimal functioning system of innovation.
“Open science and open innovation for Africa’s development”– the focus here will be on what the impact will be on Africa’s development if there was a concerted drive to intensity collaboration among all stakeholders in the scientific and innovation enterprise, including through the enhanced dissemination and sharing of research results to maximise impact.
“Science transforming society” – the focus here will be on how science, technology and innovation is changing society, how is it contributing to the improvement of the quality of living of all citizens and how we ensure ethical considerations are addressed and science-driven development is equitable and sustainable.
“Science for a Better World” – the focus here will be on the sustainable solutions science, technology and innovation can provide to global challenges like poverty, inequality, inclusive development and a secure society, with an emphasis on the value of enhanced international collaboration in addressing these shared global challenges.
“Innovation shaping the industry of tomorrow” – the focus here will be on how the exponential pace of progress in science, technology and innovation is disrupting every industry in every country and how the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
SFSA2018 IN NUMBERS
The SFSA 2018 will undoubtedly be the biggest Science Forum yet. The online registrations on 22 November 2018 are already at 1770 participants compared to 1200 at a similar stage in 2017. Around 80% of the registrations are from South Africa, with almost 10% from the rest of Africa. In total more than 200 foreign participants from more than 60 countries have already registered online. More than 3000 participants are expected.
The programme comprises 94 panel discussions and talks. Almost 350 individual speakers have confirmed to date. The gender split of the speakers are close to 50% female, 50% male. Among the speakers, more than 20% will be youth (under 35 years of age.) There will be at least 131 international speakers including 79 from other African countries.
SFSA2018 will also host 73 exhibitors to showcase the National System of Innovation and international partnerships - 38% of the exhibitors are international partners and 13% are youth focussed.
There also several side events organised by South African and international organisations in the run-up ensuring a vibrant during the entire week.
The draft programme for the opening plenary will include the welcome address by Minister Kubayi-Ngubane and messages of support from the African Union (delivered by a Commissioner) and representatives of several key strategic partners supporting the Forum, including the Iranian Vice President. Furthermore, a special lecture will focus on the African response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, delivered by Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg.
The remainder of the Forum programme, consisting out of panel discussions and short talks will have a priority focus on themes such as the Pan-African science, technology, and innovation agenda; the Fourth Industrial Revolution; and the science and society interface. Examples of sessions (debates) covering these topics are:
- Research agenda for climate change and development in Africa
- Connecting Africa’s innovation labs: ICT transforming society
- Open innovation for sustainable bio-economies in Africa
- Science diplomacy for Africa’s development
The Fourth Industrial Revolution:
- People and technology in the workplace of the future
- Fourth Industrial Revolution and achieving the SDGs in Africa
- High tech vs Frugal innovation: Can Africa leapfrog?
- Fourth Industrial Revolution context for developing countries
- Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Future of Work
- MeerKAT and SKA: Advancing Development in Africa
Science in Society:
- Ethical challenges in genomics research
- Perspectives on intellectual liberalisation
- Universities as beacon science engagement in society
- Advancing women in science and engineeringin SADC
- Sustainable Development Goals and gender equality
- “OneHealth” Towards a proactive global health regime
- Promoting research integrity
OUTREACH AND MEDIA
SFSA2018proceedings will be broadcast on the Internet ensuring a global audience. These videos will then be available on online platforms. There will be in addition severallive radio and television broadcasts, including by SABC, 702, CNBC and others. Fifteen leading science journalists from other African countries will also attend to cover the event. They will also participate in a science media workshop to advance African science journalism, which will include South African journalists, and media interns. There are also a partnership with the Independent Media group and an extensive social media campaign throughout the Forum.
Online Registration – https://www.sfsa.co.za/online-registration/