ASSAf at the WSF 2022

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) will participate in the World Science Forum (WSF) 2022, to be hosted in Cape Town from 6 to 9 December, under the theme “Science for Social Justice”.  

Taking place in Africa for the first time, the WSF is among the most significant science gatherings worldwide.  It takes place every two years and attracts scientists from all over the world.  Established by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the gathering deliberates on the social and economic relevance, influence and responsibilities of science.

ASSAf cordially invites the media to join the following open sessions:

Promoting social justice through accessibility of language in science (ASSAf)

Monday, 5 December 2022, 11:30-13:00, CTICC Meeting Rooms 1.41-1.42

The COVID-19 pandemic is a quintessential example of the need for science to be accessible to all – irrespective of occupation (non-scientists, policymakers, the public), geographical location or resources. Accessibility is measured not only by physical access to information – that is, internet access or open access, but by the readability of the language used and the understandability of the science. Even the most complex science can be understood by a very wide scope of readers if it is explained in an appropriate way. The South African Journal of Science is a multidisciplinary diamond, open access journal published by the Academy of Science of South Africa.. Unlike publications in most journals, authors are expected to write their articles in a style that will be understood by other scientists and non-specialists. The objective of this session is to show why and how language could – and should – be used to make science more accessible. We shall describe the processes and activities through which the Journal’s editorial team has been in order to make the Journal more accessible, and will outline debates we have had along the way. Participants will gain an understanding of the importance of accessible language in promoting inclusion, diversity and equity in science.

Scientific freedom and the RRING Community working with UNESCO on the Recommendation on Science & Scientific Researchers (RRING)
Monday, 5  December 2022, 14:30 to 16:30, CTICC Meeting Rooms 1.41-1.42

The overall project aim of RRING is to bring Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) into the linked up global world to promote mutual learning and collaboration in RRI. RRING will align RRI to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UNESCO RSSR as a global common denominator and global Framework. Solutions that the session will explore are:

  1. Barriers researchers experience in exercising freedom.
  2. How can the RSSR be enabled as a practical instrument for:
    • researcher freedom?
    • researcher career security and reduced precarity?
  3. How do funders and funding organisations influence Scientific Freedom?
  4. Use of the RRING tools by countries in their 4 yearly review reports for RSSR.

Establishing an African knowledge democracy for increased social justice and development

Wednesday, 7  December 2022, 11:30 to 13:00, CTICC Meeting Rooms 1.43-1.44

This session comprises of two parts, both addressing alternative ways to fund research and acknowledge researchers.

Part 1

The current methods for the assessment of science, scientists and journals lean heavily on ranking and citation metrics. Many research-intensive institutions also from the South still use the journal impact factor to influence the promotion and tenure process, regardless of it being widely criticised as a crude and misleading proxy for the quality of scientists’ work. The ranking and metrics methods have given rise to a knowledge economy based on competition and profit driven research as opposed to a knowledge democracy aimed at social justice.

Part 2

Growing inequality, glaring wealth disparities, and societal divides, which have been exacerbated by the worldwide pandemics, are fundamental trends that we have seen over the past year or two in middle and least-developed African Countries. We continue to see inequality manifesting in many ways across Africa including in science funding.


STI Systems in Africa for social inclusion and environmental sustainability: new tools and approaches
Wednesday: 7 December 2022, 17:00 to 18:30, Meeting Rooms 1.41-1.42

The session will bring together experts and policymakers from across Africa and from international organisations that are working using different approaches and modalities to strengthen capacity as well as strategic international partnerships in national science, technology and innovation (STI) systems. These systems continue to play a key role in national development priorities and in countries’ ability to contribute to addressing sustainable development goals (SDGs). More generally, there is an increasing push to ensure that STI benefits from activities and results are widespread and include vulnerable or traditionally excluded members of society. The moderator for the session will be Prof Himla Soodyall, ASSAf Executive Officer.

A global strategy to combat predatory academic journals and conferences
Thursday, 8 December 2022, 11:30 to 13:00, CTICC Meeting Rooms 1.63-1.64

In March 2022, IAP published a major report – “Combatting predatory academic journals and conferences”. It is the culmination of a two-year study of the same name, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which has explored these practices more comprehensively and inclusively than any previous study. The report provides a better understanding of what constitutes predatory academic practices, their prevalence and impact, tools and resources to avoid them, and the drivers or root causes enabling them to thrive.  The report’s message is stark: predatory academic practices are rising at a concerning rate and require urgent attention. Such predatory practices not only divert precious resources – both financial and human – from the genuine scientific endeavour, but can also damage the careers of unwitting and unaware scientists and researchers.

Science Diplomacy for Social Justice – An African perspective on Science Diplomacy
Thursday, 8 December 2022, 17:00-18:30 CTICC

Science diplomacy knows no borders. 2022 was a pivotal year for Science Diplomacy—a year of transnational co-operation necessitated by the onslaught of the global pandemic. The Science Diplomacy Capital for Africa promotes science collaboration across Africa and beyond towards leveraging and connecting technology innovation with humanity. Collaboration that embeds a culture of learning-underpinned by sound governance. The journey beyond 2022 will reinforce that Science Diplomacy is the heart of Africa’s socio economic development and growth.

DSI-EU Online Multilateral Dialogue Workshop on Ethics and Research Integrity
Friday, 9 December 2022, 13:00-15:30, Virtual link

This workshop is the second in a series of workshops organised by the European Commission, together with EU Member States and a number of key partner countries as part of a multilateral dialogue on principles and values for international research and innovation. The aim of this dialogue is to have an open discussion to develop a common understanding of these principles and values as a reliable basis for international research and innovation cooperation. This second workshop focuses on ethics and research integrity. As research ethics and integrity are the backbones of excellence and trust, issues such as the responsible conduct of research, the accuracy and reliability of data, the protection of privacy as well as of other fundamental ethical principles gradually become an essential part of the international policy debate on responsible research.

Cape Town Tour for Early Career Researchers
5 December 2022

The South African Young Academy of Science together with the Global Young Academy, InterAcademy Partnership and the Africa Science Leadership Programme co-organised the city tour for Early Career Researchers. During the tour, participants will have the chance to meet with other early career researchers who are in town for the World Science Forum.


5 to 9 December 2022

Sub-theme: Science for Africa and the world – How to unleash the potential of African science in global cooperation? The aim is to showcase the projects of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) and to raise awareness. Exhibiting will also provide linkages within Africa: African Academies and Young Academies. As well as linkages outside Africa: Global Young Academy.

The following closed sessions will also be hosted:

  • Cape Town Declaration on Science for Social Justice
  • Workshop: Strengthening cooperation amongst SADC Academies and identify further partnership opportunities: strategizing on guiding improved academy role in the region
  • Start of the site construction of SKA telescopes in SA and Australia

To register for the event, please click here

Live streaming link