Africa Satellite

Event

21-24 MAY 2024 | DURBAN | SOUTH AFRICA & ONLINE

The Future Earth Africa Hub, supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) is pleased to host the 3rd Sustainability Research and Innovation Congress Africa (SRI2024) Satellite Event.

Drawing from the deeply rooted cultural and traditional contexts that value harmonious relationships between humans and nature and the innovations that characterize unrivaled economic growth, the African region has a wealth of knowledge and innovation to offer the wider world.

Therefore, the SRI 2024 Africa satellite event which will be a mixture of cross-cutting plenary sessions, parallel thematic sessions, and live discussion tables will showcase the richness of African perspectives in sustainability science and innovation and bring together research and innovation communities to share successes, build collaborations, and work across disciplines and sectors to support a global transformation to sustainability in Africa.

The SRI Africa Satellite Event 2024 will build on the success of SRI Africa Satellite Event 2023, which convened over 320 African experts from more than 34 countries and hosted more than 40 sessions and 6 plenaries over 3 days.

For more questions write to sriafricaevent@nrf.ac.za 

 

Africa Satellite Event Themes

1. Green Transitions

The world is trending towards being greener – whether it is the increase in the amount of plant life, the number of green spaces being cultivated in cities, or the changing behavior of humans towards more sustainable practices, “green” is becoming a synonym for all things good on the planet.  Yet, not all green transitions are positive.  Concerns about biodiversity loss, shifts in growing seasons and declining plant nutrition, lack of equitable access to green urban landscapes, and greenwashing present just a few of the challenges facing this green transition.  This theme provides an opportunity to explore the changing landscape and attitudes towards living in harmony with nature, including but not limited to such topics as:
 

  • The migration of plants and humans into new areas of the planet and potential environmental, economic, and health impacts   
  • The balance between agroforestry and biodiversity conservation in land management
  • Predicting the future of agricultural food and biofuel systems
  • Integrating Indigenous stewardship principles into the management of land and water
  • Environmental justice efforts to increase the equitable distribution and sustain the presence of urban blue and green spaces
  • Innovative methods for changing behaviors and institutions towards more sustainable practices
  • Increasing transparency and corporate social responsibility to counteract greenwashing

2. Transforming Technologies and the Future of Work

Technological innovation is an important driver of sustainable transformation, contributing to growth, access, and efficiency of multiple systems, including digital, renewable energy, financial, materials, biotech, health, and decision support solutions.  The path from ideation to integration, however, is not always smooth and can raise concerns about carbon footprint, ethical application, unintended uses, reliance on limited resources for operation, inciting a socio-economic or north-south divide, or lack of regulatory oversight.   Automation and AI have spurred greater efficiencies but may also result in job loss or other disruptions in careers, while creating new needs for skills and labor.  This theme highlights both the technological advances that hope to improve our world and the systems that foster, support, and consume the realization of those technological applications.

  • Developing and scaling new smart technologies that support sustainable societies and their wellbeing while keeping within planetary boundaries 
  • Transforming the financing of technological innovation
  • Reimagining the educational training of a workforce in an increasingly machine-enabled future
  • Exploring tradeoffs between high and low tech options and the development of hybridized approaches that merge traditional and computer-enabled pathways
  • Mitigating the carbon footprint of 4IR and simplifying carbon reporting
  • New regulatory frameworks to enable implementation of transformative and data-driven technologies (including machine learning, AI, Internet of Things, cloud computing, blockchain, and fintech)
  • Guidelines for and examples of ethical application of data-driven technologies
  • Addressing the pressures and influence of digitalization, including globalization and impact on youth

3. Living on the Frontlines of Change – The Arctic and Beyond

Communities around the world are adapting to change brought on by a combination of extreme weather events, environmental degradation and pollution, competition for natural resources, cultural shifts, economic opportunities and losses, geopolitical pressures, and other means.  For some this confluence of challenges threatens not only their livelihoods and lifeways, but their existence in their current location.  This theme invites contributions about the polycrises facing many communities, the considerations and challenges to adapting in place, and pathways forward for minimizing conflict, increasing community and personal resilience, and ensuring safe, healthy, productive, and fulfilling living conditions for future generations.  Topics include a breadth of possibility, including:

  • Innovative community and collaborative approaches to adaptation and resilience in locations experiencing extreme pressures, including pressures to relocate or migrate
  • Navigating complex relationships with external assistance, private sector investors, coordination, and expert groups supporting adaptation
  • Coping mechanisms and health systems for addressing uncertainty, climate anxiety, and repeated disaster and disease scenarios
  • Diplomacy, peacebuilding activities and communities of support that can reduce tensions
  • Equitable access to information, technologies, and resources for decision-making and planning
  • Preservation of culture, including both tangible and intangible heritage

4. Powering the World

Meeting the growing needs for equitable access to clean and reliable energy worldwide requires a multi-pronged approach.  Phasing out fuels that contribute to climate change and mitigating their effects on atmospheric warming is only part of the strategy.  Transitions to renewable and clean energy sources offer only a near-term option to reduce dependency on hydrocarbon and coal-based fuels until transformative alternatives would potentially become available.  These transitions may also have secondary effects such as improved health and economic benefits that could incentivize individual to community-wide adoption, if it is both efficient and affordable. This shift, whether in the form of wind, solar, geothermal, wave, or other energy sources, presents several systemic opportunities but also challenges beyond just progressive technological advancements. This theme welcomes contributions that will address:

  • Incentives, policies and innovations aimed at changing cultural mindsets with the goal of making green energy affordable and accessible to all
  • Environmental tradeoffs of green energy transition and initiatives to harmonize and streamline transparent regulatory processes 
  • Equitable strategies for managing unsustainable global energy consumption, including improving energy efficiency
  • Inconsistent, seasonal, and transboundary access to one or more renewable energy sources, including distribution infrastructure and storage
  • Geopolitics of the green energy transition and impacts of the transition on international trade and supply chains, including sourcing and processing of critical minerals

5. African Sustainability Science and Innovation

One of the key objectives of SRI Africa Satellite Event 2024 is to showcase the richness of African science and innovation in sustainability. From tested local solutions to advanced academic research, the African region has a wealth of knowledge and innovation to offer to the rest of the world. Topics to be covered include:

  • Biodiversity / water co-management strategies from traditional knowledge to advanced techniques 
  • Approaches to sustainable mining and agricultural practices and sustainable tourism 
  • Africa diaspora as a resource for innovative transformation
  • African science unleashing through global cooperation
  • Policies to support innovations and products that are coming out of sustainability research in Africa