The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has expressed his condolences to the family of Ms Ndoni Mcunu, one of South Africa’s leading young scientist in climate change and social entrepreneurship.


The founder of Black Women in Science (BWIS) passed away on Saturday, 16 April in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg. Ms Mcunu was pursuing her PhD degree in climate change and agriculture at the Global Change Institute at Witwatersrand University, focusing on climate change and food system policy.


“South Africa has not only lost a beacon of hope for the value of science in society, but an environmentalist who advocated for building capacity and networks for black women scientists and researchers in Africa,” said Minister Nzimande.


Ms Mcunu achieved numerous accolades, and her work touched the lives of many. Counted among her many achievements was being listed by the Embassy of the Netherlands, as one of the top 50 most inspiring women in technology in South Africa, she was the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, received an Honorary Award from the KwaZulu-Natal Province in the division of Science Research and Entrepreneurship given by the KZN Young Achievers Awards and the eThekwini Municipality. Ms Mcuni was also featured in the 2016 Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans, under the education sector.


“With over 10 years of experience, her work in climate change advocacy and leadership in the development of women, will live on eternally,” said the Minister.


The Minister added that her passing was even more sad as KwaZulu-Natal is facing a state of disaster after torrential rains devastated  the province, in what could be the results of climate change.


“It is now more than ever urgent for policy-makers and researchers in Africa to heed Ms Mcunu’s calls on how to deal with extreme weather events in Africa,” the Minister emphasized.


Ms Mcunu co-authored the Greenpeace International and Greenpeace Africa report on extreme weather events and climate change in Africa. Released in 2020, the report titled Weathering the Storm: Extreme Weather and Climate Change in Africa, predicted that future average temperatures would increase at a rate faster than the global average in all warming scenarios.

Issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

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