16:30-17:00 Science Advice in Crises

Dr Carthage Smith
Prof Khotso Mokhele

Dr Carthage Smith

Carthage Smith joined the OECD as head of the Global Science Forum (GSF) Secretariat in June 2014. He is responsible for working with national members to define the overall strategy and priorities for the Forum.  This includes policy work on research infrastructures, Open Science, research funding mechanisms and science advisory processes.

Carthage was originally trained as a biochemist, with a PhD in neuroscience (Newcastle University, UK).  Prior to joining the GSF secretariat, he was Deputy Executive Director of the International Council for Science (ICSU, Paris) for twelve years.  In this position he led the strategic development of a number of major global science initiatives.  Before moving to France, he spent six years at the UK Medical Research Council, where he was Head of International Cooperation.

Prof Khotso Mokhele

Dr Khotso Mokhele is the Chair of the Advisory Council of the African Open Science Platform, ND Chancellor of the University of the Free State. He was awarded a BSc Agriculture from Fort Hare University, and continued his studies at the University of California Davis on the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Scholarship Programme, completing his MSc (Food Science) and PhD (Microbiology). He was subsequently a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland, USA) and the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA).

Dr Mokhele is the recipient of honorary doctorates from eight South African universities, including the University of the Free State and Rutgers University in the United States.

As President and CEO of the Foundation for Research Development (FRD) (1996-1999) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) from 1999 to 2006, Dr Mokhele played a central role in providing visionary and strategic direction to the South African science system. He was the Founder President of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Chairperson of the Economic Advisory Council to the Premier of the Free State (2001-2004), and a member of the Advisory Council on Innovation to the Minister of Science and Technology (2003-2007). His role in securing government and international support for the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Project is evidence of his dedication to science in South Africa. The success of this project laid the basis for South Africa being selected to host more than 70% of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an international mega telescope for radio astronomy. In recognition of his contribution to the development of science, he was the recipient of the Technology Top 100 Lifetime Achievers Award in 2009 and the National Science and Technology Forum Award in 2005.

His role in science is recognised internationally. He was elected Vice-President: Scientific Planning and Review of the International Science Council (ISC) and Chairperson of its Committee for Scientific Planning and Review (2005-2008), as well as a member of the Committee on Developing and Transition Economy Countries of the International Social Science Council (2008-2010). He also represented South Africa on the executive board of UNESCO and was awarded the Member Legion of Honour of the Republic of France for his work in strengthening scientific ties between South Africa and France.

Dr Mokhele’s current corporate positions include: Non-Executive Chairman: Board of Directors, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd (Implats) and Adcock Ingram Holdings Ltd; Non-Executive Director: African Oxygen Ltd (Afrox), Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings Ltd (Zimplats), Hans Merensky Holdings Ltd, and Tiger Brands Ltd. He is the President of the Hans Merensky Foundation (South Africa) and a Trustee of SciDev.Net (a web-based scientific magazine based in London, UK) and Start International Inc (USA). He was Chairman of the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, and Swaziland (2007–2011) and had served on the South Africa at Large Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for more than 10 years.

A new report from the OECD on Scientific Advice During Crises: facilitating transnational co-operation and exchange of information was published at the end of October, 2018.  This outlines the challenges in obtaining rigorous, timely and policy-relevant scientific information during environmental and health emergencies, particularly when these cross national boundaries. It explores the different advisory mechanisms that exist in different countries and internationally and how these operate in different situations, including the 2013 West Africa Ebola virus epidemic, and makes suggestions as to how things might be improved. There is explicit recognition that the effective use of science advice policy-making is context dependent and involves a variety of formal and informal mechanisms which vary from one country to another.  At the same time, it is stressed that during crises there is a responsibility for countries to cooperate and for those with relevant scientific expertise to openly share it with those who may not have such expertise.

Carthage Smith will give an overview of the OECD report and Khotso Mokhele, who co-chaired the international Expert Group that guide the work, will provide an assessment of the implications for Africa.