Organised by SciCom on behalf of the Government of South Africa
- Dublin, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Global science partnerships to address global challenges Africa, America, Asia, Europe: Rising on the same tide?

Session Description

This session is designed to identify best practices and pitfalls encountered by different countries when practicing science without borders. The high-level international speakers will bring unique insights into the science behind science policy-making, implementation and evaluation. Climate change, energy and resource efficiency, health and demographic change, food security and the digital divide, are opportunities for research and innovation, which will help us to create the necessary jobs and wealth to take the developed and developing world out of the current economic crisis, achieving sustainable development and alleviating poverty. Insights will be given into the strong international dimension that is required and concrete measures being taken.

This high-profile session spotlights four decision-makers on the world stage responsible for placing innovation at the core of international politics. An important focus will be Africa’s determination to not only harness science and technology for the continent’s development but to become a full and active partner in global knowledge partnerships. Progress on the roadmap towards a true European Innovation Union with dynamic international cooperation links will be assessed. The imperative of re-focusing R&D and innovation policy on the challenges facing our global society from the American and Asian perspectives will also be tackled.

New Zealand Flag Moderator:
Sir Peter Gluckman,
Chief Science Adviser to the New Zealand Prime Minister


Presentation Title: A United Europe of Innovation States: Can it be done?

EU Flag Speaker:
Dominique Ristori,

Director-General, European Commission, Joint Research Centre


This presentation will focus on exactly how the European Commission proposes to transform and improve the EU's research structures while completing the European Research Area and placing the ambitious Europe 2020 Strategy firmly on the rails. Placed in an international context, this talk offers timely insights into flagship European initiatives from the digital agenda and industrial policy to the strategy on innovation, jobs and employment. Key to their success are plans led by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn to grow and capitalise on the innovation capacity and capability of actors from higher education, research, business and entrepreneurship from the EU and beyond. 

Presentation Title: Scientific Cooperation in and with Africa: Room for Growing Optimism?

South African Flag Speaker:
Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor,
South African Minister for Science and Technology

Talk Description:

South African Minister for Science and Technology, Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor will highlight South Africa’s determination to become one of the world’s most competitive knowledge economies through implementation of the country’s Ten Year Innovation Plan, addressing grand challenges such as global change, energy security and the fight against disease. The Innovation Plan spans focus areas such from space science and astronomy, exploiting South Africa’s comparative geographic advantage of access to the Southern skies, to better understanding human and social dynamics of South Africa’s society in transition.  She will demonstrate how South Africa is pursuing these objectives through a range of dynamic international partnerships, including as part of implementing the African Union’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action. Flagship African initiatives such as the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation, aimed at building the continent’s pharmaceutical innovation capacities, or Africa’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, are all indicative of South Africa and Africa’s ambition to contribute to global scientific enterprise.  The message from Africa is clear: science is not a reward but an instrument for development and South Africa and Africa are determined to harness its full potential.

Presentation Title: A crucial moment for science cooperation

US Flag Speaker:
Alan Leshner,
CEO American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) & Executive Publisher, Science Magazine

Talk Description:

Despite being in the midst of a "Great Recession," the US administration has increased science and technology investment and elevated science in policy-making. Moreover, international cooperation in science and technology has gained renewed prominence as a tool for bettering relations with the world as well as addressing the most urgent global challenges. This talk will examine whether the development of a truly global scientific enterprise serve to improve international relationships while addressing global challenges facing all countries. In so doing, how should we incorporate rising scientific communities such as China and Africa into the currently Western-oriented scientific structure? All governments and regions face new challenges in terms of how science is viewed and used. From stem cells to GMOs and climate change, there continues to be a tension between scientific information and societal and political directions. Attitudes and perceptions about science, ranging from issues at the nexus of religion and politics, and competitiveness and immigration, may sometimes seem antithetical to science-based progress. How can we tackle such misperceptions and keep the public on-board?