Investment in science, technology and innovation (STI) is key to improving the lives of all South Africans. In a rapidly changing environment, ongoing assessment of the STI landscape both locally and abroad is important to ensure that the role of STI is impactful and assist countries to achieve its national objectives.

For this reason, Governments, particularly industrialised nations are relying on advisory science councils to provide sound advice that can inform policy decisions. For example, the impact of climate change necessitate informed policy interventions in order to mitigate its effects on communities, failure to plan will have disastrous consequences.

In South Africa, the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), supported by the National Advisory Council on Innovation (Act No.55 of 1997), is mandated to advise the Minister of Science and Technology on the role and contribution of science, mathematics, innovation and technology, including indigenous technologies.

NACI also plays a critical role in promoting and achieving national objectives in order to improve and sustain the quality of life for all South Africans, develop human resources for science and technology, build the economy and strengthen the country’s competiveness in the international arena.

Next week NACI will host top officials from science institutions around the world in Pretoria on Tuesday, 5 December to discuss the role advisory councils play in informing national policy on science, technology and innovation (STI).

The Global Forum of National Advisory Councils is a platform for discussion and mutual collaboration among peer institutions, recommending ways of fostering policy advice for STI around the world.

While advisory councils on STI play an important role in informing policy decisions that can address national objectives, in Africa and many other developing countries, there is a lack of such bodies in comparison to a rising number of science academies around the world. The anticipation is that this forum will serve as a platform to inspire the developing world especially Africa, to establish such councils.

The Global Forum will also enable advisory councils from industrialised nations to share experiences and to create new opportunities to use STI to advance economic development, enhance the quality of life and well-being of the citizens of all nations.

The 2017 Global Forum of National Advisory Councils will take place over two days, billed as one of the premier side events of the 2017 Science Forum South Africa (SFSA2017). South Africa’s National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) is hosting this meeting on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Countries represented at this event include Chile, Canada, Kenya, China, Egypt, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom, among others.

Speakers include prominent scientists such as Prof Howard Alper, best known for his research of catalysis in chemistry; South Africa’s economist Dr Azar Jammine, Prof Cheryl De la Rey who is chair of the NACI Council and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, and the Director-General of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara, among others.

Topics of discussions will include innovation for inclusive development, building vibrant innovation ecosystems and evaluating of states of innovation. Policy makers will also share experiences and models of giving advice.