Robin Crewe, Peter Fritz and Tracey Elliott represented the IAP/Carnegie projects at the 3rd Worldwide Meeting of Young Academies (WWMYA) and, preceding this, the SA Young Academy’s (SAYAS) Annual Young Scientist Conference. These brought together more than 60 representatives from over 35 YAs and young scientist initiatives around the world; about half of them from Africa.
The theme of the WWMYA was "One health: health and development in the context of an urbanising planet and implications for science policy" - relevant to SDGs 3, 8 and 11 - but discussions were wide-ranging and typically focused on capacity building and sharing good practice across the Young Academies.
Robin, Co-Chair of the IAP Project on Africa, gave the keynote address, introducing both IAP projects and highlights of the academies’ survey. Describing influencing policy as “a massive test of diplomacy, advocacy and tenacity”, he encouraged YAs to use the many platforms and opportunities available to them. Tracey re-emphasised this point when moderating the final session, looking at national, regional and global opportunities within the UN institutional framework for science supporting the SDGs.
Peter, on both of our Working Groups, led a discussion on science leadership and explored opportunities for the senior academies to help build the capacity of YAs. Himla Soodyall, IAP Africa WG member, also participated actively in the preceding SAYAS meeting, in her capacity as General Secretary to the South African academy (ASSAf). The WWMYA programme is here.
The young participants demonstrated passion and conviction in their roles as advocates for science. Their willingness to get involved in outreach activities in schools and universities is impressive, and there is no doubt that these scientists are already inspiring the next generation and working to "make science cool again".
Our discussions have helped inform both IAP projects, and we thank the organisers (the Global Young Academy and SAYAS) for inviting us to roll up our sleeves and get involved.