As a consequence of the increasing pressures driven by global change, South Africa faces the urgent priority of training a generation of scientists who can support decision makers through undertaking excellent and appropriate global change science research.
This was highlighted by Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane during the official opening of the fourth national global change science conference, held under the theme ‘Sustainable futures through science and innovation’, at Bolivia Estate on Monday. The conference is scheduled to end today (Thursday).
She stated that solving the challenges confronting the country will not be achieved only through technical expertise. Increasingly, the role of the social sciences and humanities are being seen as critical science inputs, Kubayi-Ngubane stated. She added: “The role of enhanced understanding of the central part that values, belief systems and cultural dimensions play in shaping the problems we face and informing solutions are needed to deepen our understanding of complex problems. The creative arts, for example, are vital to informing the systems approach that is needed to address the challenges.”
The conference offers a unique opportunity for a multi-stakeholder dialogue on topical issues related to global change. By bringing together representatives from the research and development sector, business, industry, government, and civil society, to share and debate the latest research, technology and strategic solutions to “our challenges, it gives us a better chance to achieve the sustainable development goals and the goals of the national development plan,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
When delivering a short lecture on global change, a guest lecturer Mark Swilling from the Stellenbosch University, said matured scientific communities are under-resourced and added that the main stream economic theories ignore a number of things that contributes to global change.
He further said the country has about 12 years to change direction to deviate from environmental crisis but stressed that most individuals are ignorant about the global change and they are not aware that they bare a risk of extinction.
The conference is jointly organised by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation, and hosted by the University of Limpopo (UL) and the Provincial Government. Provincial Treasury MEC Rob Tooley joined UL Vice-Chancellor and Principal Mahlo Mokgalong on stage on the first day of the conference.
Story: ENDY SENYATSI