The National Research Foundation (NRF) is pleased to announce its selection to host the Africa Future Earth Global Secretariat Hub. The Africa Hub will join eight global hubs namely: Canada (Montreal), China (Beijing), France (Paris), Japan (Tokyo), South Asia (Bengaluru), Sweden (Stockholm), Taipei (Taipei), and the United States (Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado, and Fairfax, Virginia).
The CEO of the NRF, Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, stated that: “The NRF is honored, on behalf of the African continent, to play a leading role in the coordination of sustainability science in the Global South“.
The NRF’s bid was recently approved by the Future Earth (FE) Governing Council following an external review process that commenced during November 2021. The FE Governing Council is the elected decision-making structure working on behalf of the FE Assembly. The submission was supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Future Earth Regional Office of Southern Africa (FEROSA).
Launched in 2015, Future Earth is the primary global body that advances international collaboration between researchers and stakeholders to identify and generate the integrated knowledge needed for successful transformations in global sustainability science. It uses a rigorous transdisciplinary research and systems thinking approach to generate actionable, solution-oriented knowledge to inform and guide decisions by policy makers and practitioners at all levels of governance. Major organisations affiliated with Future Earth includes the International Science Council (ISC), the Belmont Forum of funding agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The NRF serves as the adherence body to the ISC, and is a founding member of the Belmont Forum. The African Open Science Platform (AOSP), hosted by the NRF, will be a prominent stakeholder in this global initiative.
“The advancement and strengthening of strategic south-south collaboration is a key tenet of the African Hub, and it will invest significantly in the expansion of existing networks as well as the establishment or enhancement of new programmes, including Global Change research”, said Dr Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director Strategic Partnership at the NRF.
A phased implementation process during the next two years will establish the Africa Hub to operate as a truly global initiative with a strong African presence and voice, integrating Africa’s thriving and expanding sustainability science, policy, and funding communities into the global sustainability science arena. The approach articulates a clear framework for Future Earth Africa, which includes an ‘African Hub Leadership Centre’ based in South Africa (financially supported by the NRF) and four ‘African Hub Focal Points’ strategically located throughout the continent (to be supported by other partner academic institutions and/or funders).
“Without leadership and engagement from African researchers, scholars and stakeholders, it would be impossible for Future Earth to help create a sustainable and equitable world for all. The research and knowledge from this continent are critical to transformations to global sustainability. The Governing Council greatly appreciates the work and dedication of our African colleagues and we are extremely pleased to welcome the Africa Hub to the Future Earth Global Secretariat”, said Dr Maria Uhle, Co-Chair, Future Earth Governing Council and Co-Chair of the Belmont Forum.
African bodies that operate scientific infrastructures or research programmes, such as H3ABioNet, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI), and the African Group on Earth Observations, are examples aligned with the mission of the African Hub.
The interim contact person at the NRF is Michael Nxumalo, Director Africa Collaborative Grants and Initiatives, Knowledge Advancement and Support (firstname.lastname@example.org).