ASSAf participates in UN International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development 2022
On 2 December 2021 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to proclaim 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD). The IYBSSD will help highlight the crucial role of basic sciences for sustainable development, and emphasize their contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The United Nations General Assembly motivated its decision with ‘the high value for humankind of basic sciences’, and with the fact that ‘enhanced global awareness of, and increased education in, the basic sciences is vital to attain sustainable development and to improve the quality of life for people all over the world’. It also stressed that ‘basic sciences and emerging technologies respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information and increasing the health and well-being of individuals, communities, and societies’.
In 2015, the UN approved the 2030 Agenda, indicating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which include everything from eliminating poverty to combating climate change, education, equality for women, protecting the environment and the design of our cities. This agenda is an opportunity for countries and their societies to embark on a new path towards improving everyone’s lives, without leaving anyone behind. The Covid-19 pandemic has starkly highlighted the need for this initiative.
According to Michel Spiro, President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), “basic sciences have an important contribution to make to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development program. The basic sciences provide the essential means to meet crucial challenges such as universal access to food, energy, health coverage and communication technologies. They enable us to understand the impact of the currently nearly 8 billion people on the planet and to act to limit, and sometimes even to reduce it: depletion of the ozone layer, climate change, depletion of natural resources, extinction of living species.”
The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) engaged ASSAf’s Executive Officer, Prof Himla Soodyall, to represent the southern African region by serving as the node coordinator for IYBSSD 2022 activities in the region. The South African Basic Sciences Platform (SABSPlat) hosted by the DSI under the leadership of Dr Sagren Moodley (Director: Basic Sciences) serves as an inclusive, multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary forum representing all the basic sciences in South Africa.. At a recent meeting hosted by the DSI of stakeholders involved with SABSPlat, it was encouraging to see how many learned societies have already started planning activities for celebrating IYBSSD 2022. SABSPlat will play a key role in observing and raising awareness of the importance of the basic sciences for sustainable development, in accordance with national priorities.
ASSAf, together with the DSI and other stakeholders will continue to engage with basic sciences stakeholders in South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, as well as with other African countries, to promote basic sciences and the alignment of such activities with the SDGs.
The IYBSSD 2022 will be officially inaugurated with an opening ceremony from 8 July 2022 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Events and activities will be organized around the world until 30 June 2023.