The Royal Society and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), will co-host the Commonwealth Science Conference from 22-26 February2021 under the theme: ‘Science for a Resilient Future’. The conference will see leading scientists from Commonwealth nations converging to explore how science can help the world build resilience against the challenges posed by global environmental crises
Due to the due to coronavirus restrictions the event will take place virtually and a renowned conservation activist and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough, is scheduled to address the delegates.
The conference is part of a wider programme, led by the Royal Society, to strengthen ties between scientists from across the Commonwealth nations. Previous conferences were held in Bangalore in November 2014 and Singapore in June 2017.
The conference will look at three main themes and these include:
- Developing resilient energy systems – decarbonising energy consumption, mitigating climate change, and moving towards a circular economy
- Nurturing resilient ecosystems – strengthening biodiversity, and sustainable stewardship of the oceans
- Building resilient societal systems – adapting to changing climate and addressing the health impacts of Covid-19
Foreign secretary of the Royal Society and co-chair of the conference, Professor Richard Catlow said: “Climate change, loss of biodiversity and increasing energy consumption based on non-renewable sources all threaten our world. These global environmental crises need global solutions. The 54 Commonwealth nations represent nearly a third of the world’s population and a hugely diverse mix of societies and economies. Bringing together the best Commonwealth researchers to showcase scientific excellence and share their experiences and perspectives will help drive the scientific innovation needed to make us more resilient to the challenges the future holds.”
The Royal Society and the AAS have existing successful partnership that have seen them supporting cutting-edge scientific research in sub-Saharan Africa to address challenges faced by developing countries.
Professor Catherine Ngila, the Acting Executive Director of the AAS and co-chair of the conference, said the idea of the conference is not just to bring scientists together to showcase their science but it also aims to provide a platform where scientists can discuss the current environmental challenges and develop concrete proposals on how to build more resilient societies. He said this will enable countries to plan better for the future of the continent and the globe, adding that if we have learnt anything from Covid-19; it is to always be prepared for the unexpected.
“We already know the impact of climate change and the urgency to act now to avert its long-term consequences. The pandemic has reminded the Africa continent and indeed the rest of the world, to prioritize research on those key areas that have the highest impact on the welfare of our communities, such as health, climate change and food security as well as invest in technology, which continue to drive industrialization. Sound public policies, building capacity of our people and regular evaluation of our performance as governments and institutions, are crucial,” said Professor Ngila.
Other notable speakers include:
- Donna Strickland; Canadian professor and recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics and one of the world’s foremost laser physics pioneers;
- Richard Leakey, Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist and environmental campaigner;
- Dr Gagandeep Kang, one of India’s leading medical scientists known for her work on the development and prevention of enteric infections in children;
- Peter Doherty, Australian winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine for transplantation and “killer” T cell-mediated immunity.
Participation in the 2021 conference is by invitation only, but key speeches and presentations will be made available to the public online. For further information visit www.royalsociety.org.