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Decadal Plan workshop advances STI strides

Publication Date: 
Monday, November 29, 2021

Charting the future of science, technology and innovation (STI), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) jointly hosted a workshop on the Decadal Plan from 22 to 23 November 2021. This workshop, which took place at the CSIR’s Knowledge Commons, with key CSIR and DSI drivers, largely focussed on STI priority areas in support of the societal grand challenges.

Charting the future of science, technology and innovation (STI), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) jointly hosted a workshop on the Decadal Plan from 22 to 23 November 2021. This workshop, which took place at the CSIR’s Knowledge Commons, with key CSIR and DSI drivers, largely focussed on STI priority areas in support of the societal grand challenges.

The Decadal Plan covers the period 2022–2031 and is the implementation plan for South Africa’s new White Paper on STI, approved by Cabinet in 2019.

In terms of building a capable state, some of the identified goals of the Decadal Plan include the continuation and upscaling of several current initiatives on decision support for municipalities and government. Another goal is programmes on innovation for service delivery through technology solutions and data, and decision support to improve access to quality basic services.
 

CSIR DSI aligned

CSIR Group Executive: Business Excellence and Integration, Khungeka Njobe, highlighted the imperative role that the CSIR plays in the implementation of the Decadal Plan. “The Decadal Plan has to be implemented and the CSIR is the implementor of a plan like this. Our own agenda in the workshop covers pretty much every aspect of the Decadal Plan. The responses from our clusters indicate that we are very much aligned. We also have a capability and a commitment as the CSIR to rise up to what is required of us,” she said. Njobe added that, ultimately, South Africa wants implementation. “Yes, the plan is good, but implementation is going to be critical and that is the role we play.”

This two-day CSIR DSI workshop further emphasised the values and principles of the Decadal Plan. Discussions were premised on science and innovation alone not being sufficient to achieve impact, and that implementation requires mandate (systemic enablers), stakeholder engagement (inclusive innovation), as well as monitoring and evaluation.
 

Science diplomacy strategy

Because science knows no borders, the Decadal Plan proposes a ‘science diplomacy strategy’ to leverage international cooperation as a resource to, among others, attract STI-orientated foreign investment to South Africa and enhance the country’s sharing in international experience and expertise, including through researcher training and mobility.

Senior Policy Specialist at the DSI, Urszula Rust, shared insight into the DSI and CSIR cooperation towards a successful Decadal Plan. “The DSI can provide strategic support to the CSIR, advice on and support for accessing cooperation instruments and programmes, initiate and foster key strategic relations where political support is needed, and market the CSIR capacities and profile as an international partner,” she said. Rust added that the DSI also needs advice, joint support for initiatives such as the South African Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and, most importantly, intelligence from the CSIR.