Science Diplomacy Helping Africa Develop

Moderator: Dr Mahlet Mesfin, AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy 

Panelist: Prof Mohamed H.A. Hassan, Private

Panelist: Mrs Elisabeth Barbier, Deputy Director General of the IRD

Panelist: Dr Jane M Olwoch, SASSCAL

Panelist: Prof Nithaya Chetty, SALT

Panelist: Dr Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO


This session will celebrate the SFSA Science Diplomacy 2016 winners. The SFSA Science Diplomacy Awards are designed to recognise outstanding achievements in South Africa’s STI cooperation as well as global contributions to harnessing STI for international peace, solidarity and sustainable development.The awardees will discuss in this session the importance of science diplomacy in the development of Africa and finding solutions to global challenges, as well as the contribution their award-winning science diplomacy made to South Africa’s development and a better Africa in a better world. This celebration of top science diplomats will highlight the importance of science diplomacy in Africa and the world.

Dr. Mahlet Mesfin, Center for Science Diplomacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Mahlet Mesfin is the deputy director of AAAS’s Center for Science Diplomacy, where she serves as a key adviser on areas related to science diplomacy, is responsible for the planning and implementation of science diplomacy initiatives and projects, and is executive editor of the open-access policy journal Science & Diplomacy.

Prior to joining AAAS, Mahlet was the Assistant Director for International Science and Technology (S&T) at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  She led the strategic planning, coordination, and execution of the S&T-focused engagements under the responsibility of the U.S. President’s Science Advisor, including with those with China, Japan, India, South Korea, Brazil and the G7 Science Ministers, and championed S&T as an element of the broader U.S. government’s foreign policy agenda.  Mahlet entered the government through the AAAS S&T Policy Fellowship program, where she worked on the coordination and strategy of international basic research engagement across the U.S. Department of Defense.  She was also a policy fellow at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Engineering.

Mahlet received a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Mohamed H.A. HASSAN, President, Sudanese National Academy of Science (SNAS)

Mohamed H A Hassan is currently serving as President of the Sudanese National Academy of Sciences (SNAS), Chairman of the Governing Council of the United Nations Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries and Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Centre for International Development (ZEF), Germany.

Prior to that he served as President of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and Executive Director of TWAS

He also serves on a number of Boards of international organizations worldwide, including the Board of Directors of Grand Challenges Canada ( GCC ), the Board of Trustees of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt; the Council of Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum, Japan and the Board of the International Science Programme, Sweden.

After obtaining his DPhil in Mathematics from the University of Oxford he returned to Sudan as Lecturer in the University of Khartoum, and later became Professor and Dean of the School of Mathematical Sciences.

He has a long list of publications in Theoretical Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy; Wind Erosion, Dust and Sand Transport in Dry Lands. He also published several articles on STI in the Developing World.


Mrs Elisabeth Barbier, Deputy Director General of the IRD

Élisabeth BARBIER is a French diplomat. After being Ambassador of France in Kenya (2006-2010), South Africa (2013-2016) and special envoy for Libya (2016-2017), she is since last 1st November Deputy Director General of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD).

In 1976 she joined the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served successively in Jerusalem, Pretoria, New-Delhi, Rabat, Johannesburg and Vienna (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). In 2003 she was appointed Deputy Director General, then Director General, in charge of Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Élisabeth BARBIER has throughout her career had a special interest in science diplomacy and the interface between science and public policy. Notably as an Ambassador to Kenya and then South Africa, where she has been heavily involved in the promotion of science, research and innovation and has worked closely with representatives of higher education and French research to develop cooperation with the academic communities of these countries and the entire African continent.


Prof Nithaya Chetty, SALT

Nithaya Chetty is a computational solid state physicist at the University of Pretoria, working on 2 dimensional systems using density functional methods. He has been one of the drivers for the IUPAP-sponsored African School for Electronic Structure Methods and Applications (ASESMA), which is a series of workshops held every two years in different sub-Saharan countries, designed to foster a collaborative network for research and higher education in the areas of Computational Materials and Biological Sciences. He was the president of the South African Institute of Physics (2007-2009). He served as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the National Research Foundation of South Africa overseeing the Astronomy portfolio. He has recently been appointed Vice President of the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics (2017-2020). He is a two-time recipient of the American Fulbright scholarship, initially for graduate studies at the University of Illinois in the USA (1985)and subsequently for sabbatical leave (2004). Chetty received the NRF President’s Award in 1997.

Dr Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO

Prof. Hubert Gijzen holds a PhD in Biotechnology, and has an established career of over 35 years in both academics and in international cooperation. Throughout his career, he has lived and worked in various countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, in a range of senior functions as Full Professor and Chair in Universities, as a diplomat, Team Leader, Regional Representative, and currently as UNESCO Regional Director and Representative. Besides his current work for UNESCO, he continues to hold academic positions as full Professor at UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education (since 1995) and at Wageningen University. Hubert has published over 400 articles and books, and presented numerous keynotes in the fields of water management, microbiology, environmental sciences, biotechnology, and sanitary and environmental engineering. He also covered topics on international cooperation, sustainable development, the MDGs, SDGs and climate change. He serves in various international advisory functions and on Boards of prestigious Institutes and programmes.

Hubert Gijzen joined UNESCO in 2006 as the Director of the UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. Since 1 January 2015, Hubert was appointed as the Regional Director of the newly establishedUNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is also the UNESCO Representative to SADC, and he serves on the UN Regional Directors team for Eastern and Southern Africa (UNDG-ESA).

By | 2017-12-01T09:12:20+00:00 October 6th, 2017|