The World Science Forum 2022 (WSF 2022) was a platform for more than 900 leading scientists and decision-makers from politics and industry, representatives of civil society, and the media to express their views on the new challenges facing science in the 21st century.
During his opening address at the WSF 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa said among others: ‘Today more than ever, science is called upon to assist humanity in responding to the key challenges of our time, including disease, climate change and food insecurity.’
He continued: ‘By hosting this Forum, South Africa is demonstrating its strong commitment to international cooperation in science. Science progresses when nations work together.
‘As this is the first World Science Forum to take place in Africa, we hope that it will contribute to advancing the African agenda for science, affirming the crucial contributions Africa has to make in enriching global science.
‘We have all the ingredients required for success. Firstly, we have the rich, diverse and complementary expertise of Forum participants. Secondly, we have access to significant collective resources, including cooperation instruments, which can be mobilised for investment in science for social justice. Thirdly, we have our collective will and determination to ensure science makes a difference by informing policy that will creating a more just and equal world.’
Speakers at the WSF2022 included international and local voices. These included Prof Roula Inglesi-Lotz (Co-Chair of the Global Young Academy), Prof Tamás Freund, (President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Prof Felix Dakora, (President of the African Academy of Sciences) and Sir Peter Gluckman (President of the International Science Council), Dr Shamila Nair-Bedouelle (Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO), Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan (President of Jordan’s Royal Scientific Society), Prof Felix Dapare Dakora (President, African Academy of Sciences), Dr Fabiola Gianotti (Director-General, CERN), Prof Catherine Cesarsky (Chair, Council of the Square Kilometer Array Observatory), Prof Romain Murenzi (Executive Director, World Academy of Sciences) and Ms Milica Momcilovic (President, World Federation of Science Journalists).
Prominent South African voices included Dr Naledi Pandor (Minister of International Relations and Cooperation), Prof Fulufhelo Nelwamondo (CEO, National Research Foundation), Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim (Associate Scientific Director, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa), Professor Stephanie Burton (Vice-President, ASSAf), Prof Tshilidzi Marwala (Vice-Chancellor, University of Johannesburg, and Rector of the United Nations University as of 1 March 2023), Dr Derrick Swartz (Special Advisor, Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation) and Prof Francesco Petruccione (NITheCS Interim Director and Professor of Quantum Computing, Stellenbosch University).
During the WSF2022, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, said: ‘How can we improve our science to ensure its benefits reach the most vulnerable in society? And what in our political, cultural and social systems require changes in order to ensure science truly serves all society? For the World Science Forum 2022 to make a difference we must confront these challenges. It is of course a dialogue about science and technology which cannot only be amongst the scientific establishment – as important as you are. It must also be a dialogue with society, with policy-makers, citizens, public institutions and private sector interests.’
He continued: ‘I am confident that we have all the ingredients to achieve this mission. We have the people, you are here: scientists and scholars, policy-makers and government officials, the business community and entrepreneurs, civil society and media, the young and the old, from 118 countries, assembling exactly the diversity in experience and expertise we need.
‘I am especially delighted that a large number of delegates have joined us from other African countries and would like to thank the African Academy of Sciences for its support. For us, broader African solidarity, strategic cooperation and unity in action to pursue the goals of advancing the frontiers of science and technology for social justice is absolutely imperative. We cannot achieve this as single nation-states. It has to be forged on a wider regional and continental basis.’
NITheCS was proud to participate in this prestigious event.