Remarks by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, on the occasion of the “Soft Launch” of the World Science Forum 2022 - 10 Nov 2022

Members of the media, both local and international;

Friends and partners of the World Science Forum 2022

Ladies and gentlemen


Good morning


I am delighted to speak to you this morning on the occasion of the launch of South Africa’s hosting of the World Science Forum 2022. In less than four weeks from now, South Africa will be playing host to the global science community in Cape Town, as the World Science Forum, one of the leading global events interrogating the role science is playing in society, takes place in Africa for the first time. 


The moment is therefore appropriate to share with you our exciting plans for an event, which we are confident will not only ignite conversation, but also inspire action to ensure science advances social justice.


Today also marks the United Nations’ celebration of the “Science for Peace and Development Day”, and initiative of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which is perfectly aligned with the vision of the World Science Forum.  


In choosing the theme of Science for Social Justice as theme for South Africa’s hosting of the Forum, our Government indeed deliberately wanted to encourage the global community to focus on the strategic role science should play, as an instrument for peace and development.   


In this regard, South Africa is grateful for the trust and support from the World Science Forum partnership, which includes UNESCO, the International Science Council, the Inter-Academy Partnership, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the European Academies Science Advisory Council, the World Academy of Science, as well as the initiator and custodian of the Forum, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in affording us the privilege to host the 2022 event.  It is a responsibility we are committed to fulfil to the best of our ability.


Later this morning you will receive a presentation on the highlights of the rich and diverse programme of thirty-three (33) different sessions, as well as numerous side and satellite events, which will comprise the exciting Forum programme.  


We will also have a first debate, which I am confident will be provocative and enriching, on the role of science in advancing social justice.  

In my remarks, I would like to share with you the motivation and the expectations, which informed South Africa’s decision to host the Forum.


There are three key objectives, which we want to achieve through hosting the 2022 Forum. 


Firstly, to encourage a global debate, which inspires concerted action, to harness science as an instrument for social justice; secondly, to provide a platform for and support African leadership in global science policy discussions; and thirdly, to profile and promote South Africa as a strategic partner for global science collaboration responding to societal challenges.


Ladies and gentlemen


In these unprecedented times, marked by global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, unemployment and persistent poverty science is more than ever called upon to make a critical contribution to creating a more equal, fair and just world. 


Debates at the 2022 Forum will therefore interrogate what role science should play in ensuring resources, opportunities and privileges in society are accessible to all, and distributed in a fair manner.


The Forum will also discuss how the production and application of new knowledge should challenge inequality, injustice, environmental destruction and marginalization. 

Importantly, the Forum will not only consider the role of science in advancing social justice, but also how the values of social justice, such as greater transparency and inclusivity, should transform the nature of the scientific enterprise to make it more responsive to the needs of society. 


Topics such as Open Science, research integrity as well as ethics and technology governance, will accordingly be in the spotlight at the Forum.


International cooperation is crucial to advance the cause of science for social justice, as it is for the response to all societal challenges. 


We need to work together, share experience, expertise and resources.  Science Diplomacy will therefore be an important focus of the 2022 Forum. 


In this regard, special attention will be paid to the African agenda for science, technology and innovation and promoting greater participation by developing countries in global science. 


We also look forward to hosting our international visitors at many of South Africa’s leading science institutions, including the South African site of the Square Kilometer Array telescope. 


South Africa’s hosting of the World Science Forum and the partnerships it will enable, will therefore significantly assist us to achieve the objectives or our new Decadal Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation, which approval by Cabinet is imminent.  


The Forum will also support our foreign policy priorities, including renewing a global commitment to multilateralism and solidarity, and supporting the leadership of Africa and the Global South in international affairs.


Ladies and gentlemen


It is my conviction that South Africa’s hosting of the World Science Forum and the focus on “Science for Social Justice” is an invaluable opportunity to translate our commitment to the values of Ubuntu and our shared humanity, into concrete action. 


I am confident that the Forum will also be a celebration of the power of science to enable humanity to progress; a celebration of the ability of science to inspire us to care more and be more tolerant, to unite and not divide; and a celebration of the wonder of science which brings hope.  It is a celebration, an undertaking and a commitment I would like to invite you all to be an active part of.


I would like to conclude in recalling the words of former President Mandela when he stated in 2005 that “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” 


On the same occasion Madiba also implored action when he said that “Do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision.”  The hosting of the World Science Forum, and the action it will initiate, is responding to this call.


I thank you.


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