The Working Group on Harnessing Science, Engineering, and Medicine to Address Africa's Challenges met for the first time in Nairobi, Kenya on September 19-20, 2016. In a closed two-day meeting, the Working Group agreed the Terms of Reference, heard from guest speakers, and mapped the next steps of the project.
The participants discussed (i) the current landscape for scientific advice in Africa, in relation to the regional implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national implementation of the STI plan (STISA 2024); (ii) challenges that African researchers and academies face in responding to these policy frameworks; and (iii) ways of strengthening the science-policy interface. Two invited speakers (Professor Jacqueline McGlade and Dr Caroline Ngugi) provided insights from a UN agency and young scientist perspective, respectively, generating discussion on how this project can best achieve its objectives.
It was agreed that the project will explore the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for evidence-informed policy advice in Africa, and endeavour to address barriers that academies (senior and young) face in making a more active contribution. In doing so, the project will help raise the awareness of the African academies, their inter-academy network, NASAC, and the wider scientific community to STISA 2024 and the SDGs, and explore where they can individually and collectively better play their part in their implementation.
The next five months will focus on intelligence-gathering and consultation – speaking to key stakeholders, participating in annual meetings of the African senior and young academies, and conducting a comprehensive survey of these academies to gauge what they are doing that is relevant to STISA 2024 and the SDGs, what prevents them from doing more, and how they think they can best contribute to these agendas in future.
The Working Group will next meet in Addis Ababa on 27-28 February 2017.