International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development

With the coordination of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) working on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa scientific community launched the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development last week.


So far, 50+ science entities, higher education institutions and schools from South Africa have officially committed to host events and activities to demonstrate that – through a basic understanding of mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry – actions can be taken to solve the many challenges we face as identified through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It is only because of an understanding of the basic sciences that we can explore and apply science, such as in the medical field, engineering field, computational field and more.


Applied science uses and applies information obtained through basic science; for example, the vaccination has been strengthened and developed through the identification of the viral origin of many diseases. In addition, the HIV/AIDS treatments have significantly extended the lives of people infected through an understanding of how retroviruses work.


While applied science will be emphasized, participants noted that basic sciences will continue to play a major role in our everyday lives.


They noted that Artificial intelligence, which is based on theories and methods developed in mathematics, statistical physics and signal processing, will have an influence on all aspects of our societies. Further, the progress in DNA sequencing, thanks to biomathematics, chemistry and physics, is now guiding medicine towards more effective individualised (precision) treatments, against cancer.


They noted that the fight against non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes or obesity, which are spreading across the planet, will depend on knowledge from fundamental biology.


The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development will mobilise stakeholders at all levels for a better integration of scientific results into public decision-making processes and for the inclusive development of basic sciences.


Basic sciences need the input of the Global South, especially Africa, where half of the world’s people under 25 years of age will live by 2050. This year (January 2022 until 30 June 2023) will attempt to highlight the scientific achievements of scientists from the Global South, and the role of centers of excellence set up by international cooperation. It will also showcase successful initiatives in education, higher education and international cooperation, especially south-south cooperation.


The general South African public in its diversity is invited to get involved and support the many activities/events to be presented by science entities, schools, universities and more.