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Vol. 27 No. 2
March-April 2005

IUPAC Wire | News and information on IUPAC, its fellows, and members organizations
See also www.iupac.org/news

First ICSU Regional Meeting for Africa

The First ICSU Regional Meeting for Africa, held 9–11 October 2004 in Harare, Zimbabwe, was organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, the Research Council of Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe’s Department of Science and Technology Development in the Office of the President and Cabinet. The meeting, which was officially opened by Dr. O.N. Muchena, Zimbabwe’s minister of state, was attended by 45 scientists representing ICSU National Members, ICSU Scientific Unions, and other international organizations.

Background
ICSU, founded in 1931, is a non-governmental, global organization representing 101 National Members and 27 international scientific unions. It coordinates interdisciplinary research to address issues of relevance to science and society, actively defends freedom in the conduct of science, promotes access to scientific data and information, and facilitates science education and capacity building.

At the ICSU 27th General Assembly meeting in 2002, it was agreed that four ICSU Regional Offices—to be located in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab world, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean—should be created. The Regional Offices will help ICSU to provide better service to developing countries by fulfilling the following functions:

  • enhancing the participation of scientists from developing countries and regional scientific organizations in ICSU activities
  • strengthening science and capacity through South-South and North-South collaboration

Objectives of the First ICSU Regional Meeting for Africa
The main objective of the meeting was to deliberate and define practical guidelines for the activities of the ICSU Regional Office for Africa; this took the form of presentations of key issues followed by discussions focused around a number of themes, such as building on experiences, strengthening partnerships, shaping the future, and defining the agenda.

Outcomes of the Meeting
The meeting explored ways of collaborating with regional and international organizations such as UNESCO, TWAS, IFS, and NEPAD. ICSU has a long working relationship with UNESCO in the natural sciences sector and is also strengthening collaboration with other sectors. Participants agreed that capacity building should be one of the main functions of the Regional Office.

The meeting spent considerable time discussing activities that should be considered (or undertaken) by the Regional Offices:

  • collecting and circulating information to scientists via a Web site and e-mail
  • establishing a database of African experts in all scientific fields or compiling existing databases
  • encouraging and improving capacity building in Africa
  • creating an enabling environment for the progress and contribution to development of indigenous and traditional knowledge
  • promoting establishment of more centers of excellence for research
  • increasing participation of Africa in international programs through networking of regional scientific organizations

The Interim ICSU Regional Committee met during the Regional Meeting to discuss how to proceed with the ICSU Regional Office for Africa. It was agreed that recruiting a director for the office should be a priority. The director—to be appointed by the ICSU Executive Board—will be chosen based on terms of reference and merit, and will have a renewable three-year contract.

Nominations for the Regional Committee have to be made to ICSU by African National Members. The selection of the Regional Committee should reflect sub-regional zones and language differences. The Regional Committee will be appointed by the ICSU Executive Board and will consist of seven members appointed for three years with an initial staggered rotation built into the appointment. It was suggested that the first meeting of the Regional Committee be held as soon as a director is appointed. The meeting should coincide with the official opening of the Regional Office in South Africa.

The meeting coincided with the signing of the formal agreement between ICSU and the National Research Foundation of South Africa for the establishment of the ICSU Regional Office for Africa in Pretoria.

www.icsu.org


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