Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) 2020 will open on Wednesday, 09 December with South Africa’s renowned scientists, Professors Quarraisha and Salim Abdool Karim, delivering the plenary lecture at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria.
The two internationally acclaimed South African scientists are well-known for their work on HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, and both recently received the prestigious “500 Years of the Strait of Magellan Award” in recognition of their pioneering scientific work and contribution to humanity.
Although only the opening and the closing plenary will take place physically at the CSIR, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is confident that the smaller and without the opportunities for informal networking, the Forum will still do justice to its theme; “Igniting conversations about science”.
The SFSA 2020 will commence with an opening address by Dr Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, followed by messages from the Forum’s strategic international partners, including the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Prof Sarah Anyang Agbor.
SFSA 2020 is being presented in partnership with the South African Human Sciences Research Council’s Radical Reason Consortium, a body of South African social sciences and humanities institutions engaged in a series of knowledge-stimulating activities.
Prompted by the events of 2020 that saw life, science and race raised to new profiles, the Consortium seeks to stimulate critical knowledge that reflects the full complexity of the lived experiences and conditions of the world. Its partners include the Academy of Science of South Africa, the National Research Foundation, the Universities South Africa, Pretoria and the Western Cape, and Sol Plaatje University.
The SFSA 2020 will also be an opportunity to reflect on the various science, technology and innovation partnership initiatives that the DSI has led as part of South Africa’s chairing of the African Union this year, and as usual pan-African cooperation in science will be a significant focus of the Forum agenda.
Through the European South African Science and Technology Advancement Programme (ESASTAP), there will a special focus on cooperation with the European Union, with several sessions presented by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Africa-Europe Innovation Partnership.
On Thursday, 10 December 2020, the Forum programme will comprise 32 different panel discussions and debates, all interrogating the critical interface between science and society. Highlights on the programme will include sessions on topics such as the future of transdisciplinarity in research, African histories of technology, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the future of data protection.
An exciting new addition on the Forum programme will be a series of provocative conversations with global thinkers. Active audience engagement and debate will continue to be a hallmark of the SFSA programme.
The Forum will conclude on Friday, 11 December, with a series of panel discussions interrogating the role of science in advancing social justice, which will be the theme for South Africa’s hosting of the World Science Forum in 2021.
A final plenary discussion facilitated by the South African Affiliate Centre of the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution will focus on the impact of disruptive technology in narrowing and widening inequality.