The workshop ‘Landscaping the coordination of national role-players and activities toward SDG 6 in South Africa’ was a combined effort of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the South African Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) as the local champions of SDG #6, Clean Water and Sanitation. It was held on 23 and 24 July 2019 at the Saint Georges Hotel in Pretoria, South Africa, and was attended by over 130 people representing primarily national government, local authorities and practitioners, but also academia and civil society.
The first day focused on the SDGs in general, both from an international and national point of view, with discussions on progress and reporting on SDGs at a global, continental and national scale. The proceedings then focused on the water sector, with a presentation on international water challenges and activities followed by detail discussions on the coordination of the water sector in South Africa. Toward the end of the first day, the focus narrowed onto progress and activities toward each of the targets of SDG #6.
The second day of the workshop was more interactive. The day began with an overview of the previous day, and a debated presentation on country reporting on SDGs in South Africa and the criteria with regards to data. Thereafter, delegates separated into breakaway groups, themed around clusters of SDG #6 targets, to get a detailed overview on progress and to discuss the domestication of each target. Each breakaway groups was well organised and prepared, and finished the breakaway activity with a formal feedback presentation with questions and debate.
“The general feedback of the workshop thus far has been overwhelmingly positive with delegates still submitting information, comments and requests. This would suggest that, firstly, the water sector was in dire need for such an engagement. Secondly, ASSAf and, by definition, science academies have a valuable role to play”, Himla Soodyall, ASSAf Executive Officer, and Nadia Algera, ASSAf Programme Officer, reported to IAP.
IAP’s role in terms of content, planning advice, and financial support, they added, was instrumental to the increased understanding of the role a science academy can adopt in the national science and technology system. ASSAf is committed to using the IAP report on SDGs as a guide on the role of academies in advancing SDGs on the African continent.
Hosting a fellow under the auspices of the IAP Science Advice for Policy Fellowship Programme also gave ASSAf an opportunity to orientate a young researcher, Daniel Murgor, in academy-related activities.
The workshop proceedings were recorded and are currently being drafted into a report.