Several international and local organisations, as well as individuals were honoured during the very first Science Forum South Africa (SFSA)Science Diplomacy Awards. The SFSA Science Diplomacy Awards, recognises excellence and achievements in international scientific cooperation.
The awards recognised science, technology and innovation partnerships and was divided in different categories namely:
1. International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to
advancing global sustainable development
2. International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to human
capital development, especially for young and women scientists
3. International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to
international peace, understanding and solidarity
4. International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to
advancing African regional cooperation, integration and development
5. International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to
harnessing scientific advice for multilateral decision-making
6. International STI partnership which has achieved excellence in global science
7. Recognition of an individual effort over a career to put science at service of fostering
The recipients are as follow:
(1) International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to advancing global sustainable development
Recipient: Group on Earth Observations (GEO)
The GEO is a voluntary international partnership of 96 governments and 87 organisations working together since 2003 to harness Earth observation as a tool to inform policy- and decision-making. The GEO is developing a comprehensive Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) which will enhance international coordination and cooperation in Earth observation across several societal benefit areas. South Africa has been a co-chair of the GEO since 2003.
(2) International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to human capital development, especially for young and women scientists
Recipient:European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)
The EDCTP is a partnership between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa aimed at building capacities to undertake clinical trials in Africa for the fight against both the major and neglected infectious diseases. The EDCTP notably fosters career development of individual junior and senior fellows from sub-Saharan Africa, supporting training and mentorship of researchers, and promoting mobility of individual researchers and research staff. South Africa has been the host of the EDCTP Africa Office since 2004 and is participating in numerous EDCTP programmes.
(3) International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to international peace, understanding and solidarity
Recipient:Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum (Japan)
The STS Forum has since 2004 been one of the preeminent international forums for promoting a global dialogue on the role of science and technology in society. In addition to providing a platform for discussing in an open and constructive setting, ethical, safety and environmental issues related to science and technology, the Forum also seeks to build a consensus on harnessing international cooperation in science and technology for global sustainable development. South Africa including Ministers of Science and Technology has participated actively in and benefited from the STS Forum.
(4) International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to advancing African regional cooperation, integration and development
Recipient: Africa VLBI Network (AVN) consortium and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity-Building in Africa (RUFORUM)
The Africa Very-long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) consortium brings together South Africa and 8 African partner countries to develop radio astronomy cooperation initiatives with the long-term objective of preparing to host components of the global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) global radio telescope. Developed in preparation of the countries’ participation in the SKA project, the AVN will be an African network of radio telescopes comprising either reconfigured satellite communication or new build dishes. In addition to accelerating human capital development for radio astronomy in Africa, the consortium has developed a well-established governance framework for radio astronomy in Africa, almost unique in frontier research in Africa.
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), established by ten Vice Chancellors in 2004, is a consortium of 55 African universities operating within 22 countries spanning the African continent. RUFORUM has achieved significant success in supporting postgraduate training and networks of specialisation, especially in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). In 2014 four South African universities have been admitted to the network. RUFORUM has been instrumental to promote regional integration and cooperation in agricultural research in support of regional development strategies.
(5) International STI partnership which has made an outstanding contribution to harnessing scientific advice for multilateral decision-making
Recipient: International Council for Science (ICSU)
ICSU is the foremost international non-governmental organisation, which seeks to provide a platform for the advancement and coordination of the global scientific community, bringing together national scientific bodies and international scientific unions. It has a specific focus on science for policy, ensuring that science is integrated into international policy development, a role which recognised by the United Nations and its various subsidiary bodies, for example with regard to the development of the Sustainable Development Goals or the multilateral negotiations on climate change. The South African scientific community contributes actively to the work of ICSU and South Africa is the host of the ICSU Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa through the National Research Foundation.
(6) International STI partnership which has achieved excellence in global science
Recipient:International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Founded in 1972, IIASA is an international scientific institute that conducts policy-oriented research into problems that are too large or too complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline, such as climate change. It has gained global recognition for its work in finding solutions to global and universal problems through applied systems analysis in order to improve human and social wellbeing and protect the environment – indeed it is the world leader in achieving excellence in global science with regard to systems analysis. South Africa through the National Research Foundation participates actively in the work of IIASA notably with regard to the training of young researchers.
(7) Recognition of an individual effort over a career to put science at service of fostering international friendship
Dr Khotso Mokhele,Dr Bernie Fanaroff and Dr Lindiwe Sibanda
Dr Khotso Mokhelewas the first President of the National Research Foundation of South Africa and played a leading part in developing many of democratic South Africa’s international research cooperation programmes. Most notably he was one of the champions responsible for the successful construction of the Southern African Large Telescope and South Africa’s bid to host the SKA global radio telescope. He has also held senior leadership positions in structures of both the International Council for Science and UNESCO where had served with distinction.
Dr Bernie Fanaroffas the Project Director of the SKA South Africa has through his scientific career contributed significantly to international partnerships within the domain of radio astronomy. Most importantly he was the main driver behind not only South Africa’s bid to host the SKA global radio telescope but also played a critical part as Director of the SKA Organisation in building the international SKA partnership, including relations with Australia as co-host of the telescope. He has also initiated an Africa Big Data programme to ensure African development benefits optimally from the continent’s engagement with radio astronomy.
Dr Lindiwe Sibandais the CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), a multi-stakeholder, multi-national policy network that supports the development and implementation of better food, agriculture and national resources policies in Africa. She has worked tirelessly to assemble through FANRPAN an international membership of universities, research institutes, the business sector, farmer groups and other civil society organisations. Over her career she has been a committed champion to harness international partnerships in agricultural research for sustainable development.