Celebrating Science and the role in tackling the major societal challenges of our time
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande remarks to the World Science Forum 2022 Dinner
The World Science Forum is a celebration of international cooperation and its critical role, which enables science to progress. But above all it is a celebration of our commitment to science for social justice, evident from the vibrant debates and discussions over the past few days that indeed this Forum will decisively and positively respond to the call for action President Ramaphosa made on Tuesday night.
Tonight we are also celebrating the induction of the new fellows of the African Academy of Sciences. And it is my privilege on behalf of the World Science Forum, to congratulate them on this important milestone of and recognition of their careers.
Our sincere congratulations are extended to all the new Fellows. Your awards are a celebration of and recognition of the excellence in African science, science at the service of African society, and our world.
As fellows you will have the important responsibility to provide our Governments with the very best of scientific advice to guide our policy-making; you have the responsibility to inspire, train and empower the next generation of African scientists, who will follow in your footsteps; and you will continue to have the responsibility to expand the frontiers of knowledge and ensure that knowledge is applied for the benefit of all society. You also have the responsibility to assist us with that other important mission, and that is through your networks to strengthening pan-African cooperation and integration in science. You are and must be our champions for the pan-African science agenda.
Thank indeed you for your service, past, present and future.
I would also like to thank the African Academy of Sciences, and its President, Prof Felix Dakora, for entrusting us to host the induction ceremony as part of tonight’s proceedings.
Tonight is also an opportunity for me to thank all who have contributed to the success of this Forum, for their hard work.
I would specifically like to thank again Professor Tamas Freund, my Co-Chair of the World Science Forum Steering Committee and the members of the Steering Committee, for all their contributions. But most importantly, I would like to thank you – all the participants of the World Science Forum – because you are this Forum, without you – there would have been no cause for celebration.
I thank you all – most sincerely – and trust all our international visitors enjoyed your time in South Africa – and that you will be back.
It is of course important to recall, that our Forum is not quite done yet. We still have an exciting programme tomorrow, and the plenary debate on ensuring that science reflects the society we want, will undoubtedly be one of the Forum highlights.
I am most grateful that Dr Alondra Nelson, Deputy Assistant to President Biden for Science, will be our keynote speaker for this important session.
I also look forward to the adoption of the World Science Forum Declaration on Science for Social Justice during the closing session. It will be a session, which will, however, not mark the end, but rather the beginning.
The beginning of us, collectively, working together translating our commitments in the Declaration, into concrete action – responding to President Ramaphosa’s call and holding ourselves accountable to our commitment to science for social justice.
Like President Ramaphosa on Tuesday night, I would like to leave you with some words from former President Nelson Mandela, whom I am sure would have been delighted with this Forum and the rich debates, having commented that:
“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”
We have indeed this week, considered the challenges which face us from many angles and that was important. But what matters now is action and to make that difference, science at the service for society, science for social justice. For as President Mandela famously said: “It always seems impossible until it's done.”