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International Science Council Governing Board calls for science and scientists in Africa to be mobilized ahead of 2024 United Nations Summit of the Future

The clear message coming from the International Science Council Governing Board, is that science continues to be underutilized as a pathway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Governing Board of the International Science Council (ISC) has gathered in Nairobi, Kenya ahead of the United Nations Civil Society Conference, which is the first of its kind to be held in the Global South and serves as a precursor to the Summit of the Future at the UN headquarters in New York this coming September.

The clear message coming from the International Science Council, which has more than 30 national and regional members on the continent across the natural and social sciences, and humanities, is that science continues to be underutilized as a pathway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Governing Board, in collaboration with ISC Members the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), and the Kenyan Academy of Sciences, used the opportunity to hear from distinguished voices promoting science on the continent, including Ambassador Macharia Kamau, a member of the ISC’s Global Commission on Science Missions for Sustainability, and Peggy Oti-Boateng, AAS Executive Director and former science advisor at UNESCO.

“The International Science Council’s vision and call to action aligns with the United Nations Summit on Shaping a Future of Global and Sustainable Progress, and the need for accelerated action on the SDGs” said Ambassador Macharia Kamau.

“As we are now more than halfway through the 2030 Agenda, we need to think big, be disruptive, and collectively empower science for sustainable societal transformations in the 21st century. This is why I am proud to be part of the ISC’s Global Call for Science Missions fosr Sustainability – an urgent and bold initiative that aims to tackle complex sustainability challenges head-on. However, we must have voices from the African continent leading these challenges, as well as contributing to the global agenda from an African perspective,” he added.

The Global Call aims to select up to five pilot programmes to test “mission science for sustainability” and is seeking consortiums, particularly from the Global South, to participate in a bid to accelerate action on the SDGs.

Peggy Oti-Boateng encouraged the ISC Governing Board to continue its work with ISC African members, particularly on the challenges of environmental and climate change and inequalities.

“We are a renewed African Academy of Sciences, and we are ready to promote the voices of African scientists at this critical moment for a sustainable planet,” she said.

Speaking at the third Multisectoral Conference and Exhibition on Research, Science, Technology and Innovation hosted by the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), ISC President Peter Gluckman, made an opening address calling on the more than 300 participants to speak up for science on the African continent.

“Every one of us must promote trust in science. Scientists in Africa must be leading voices for open and fair data, and for open science, to build knowledge systems that drive action for a sustainable future, rather than divide us. This is what the Governing Board has learned in our continued engagement with science in Africa – we must see more Global South to Global North collaboration rather than the other way around.”

The Multisectoral conference, overseen by Walter Oyawa, Director General of NACOSTI and ISC Governing Board member is a yearly conference which promotes facilitate national and international discourse to deliberate, network, partner, share experiences and resolve on how best to infuse or deploy Science.

“We were delighted to host the ISC Board at our conference, as it highlights the importance of international scientific diplomacy and collaboration,” he said.

Anne Husebekk, the ISC Vice President for Freedom and Responsibility of Science also spoke at the conference on the issue of scientific diplomacy.

“Science diplomacy can easily be seen as a positive consequence of science. International collaboration between scientists may induce collaboration between politicians and end up as peaceful solutions to politically difficult questions,”

Salvatore Aricò, Chief Executive Officer of the ISC was buoyed by the hope and energy of science in Africa saying:

“The ISC is working at the global level to catalyse and convene scientific expertise, advice, and influence on issues of major concern to both science and society,” he said Salvatore Aricò. “Advancing human development within sustainable planetary and social boundaries is the most important challenge for humanity and for science and we are excited to be collaborating with the African scientific community on these challenges.”

The United Nations Civil Society Conference in Nairobi will amplify the ISC’s key messages, providing a platform for civil society’s insights and initiatives ahead of the Summit of the Future, where the Pact for the Future, the Global Digital Compact, and the Declaration on Future Generations will be discussed. The ISC’s involvement  highlights the urgent need for collective action to achieve a sustainable planet, particularly through the empowerment of science and education.

About the International Science Council

The ISC, with its unique global membership that includes more than 250 international scientific unions and associations, national and regional scientific organizations, and young academies, has a significant footprint in Africa. The Council’s African members based in Kenya, include the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), NACOSTI, and the Kenyan Academy of Sciences. These organizations share the ISC’s vision of advancing human development within sustainable planetary and social boundaries, a mission that aligns with the urgent need for Africa’s scientists and educational programs to address sustainability.

Media Contact:

Alison Meston, Director of Communications |

Image: Copyright African Academy of Sciences. Photo features ISC President Peter Gluckman, Ambassador Macharia Kamau, a member of the ISC’s Global Commission on Science Missions for Sustainability and ISC Board Member Walter Oyawa

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