C. ASSAf Policymakers' Booklets

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Policymakers' Booklets are summaries of Consensus Study Reports aiming at making scientific information accessible to policymakers and the general public.

Peer-Review Status: Peer-Reviewed

Enquiries: Susan Veldsman

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 13
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    Code of Best Practice in Scholarly Journal Publishing, Editing and Peer Review
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2015-03) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
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    Essential facts about Covid-19: the disease, the responses, and an uncertain future. For South African learners, teachers, and the general public
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2021) Bucher, Martin (ed); Mall, Anwar Suleman (ed); Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The first cases of a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) were identified toward the end of 2019 in Wuhan, China. Over the following months, this virus spread to everywhere in the world. By now no country has been spared the devastation from the loss of lives from the disease (Covid-19) and the economic and social impacts of responses to mitigate the impact of the virus. Our lives in South Africa have been turned upside down as we try to make the best of this bad situation. The 2020 school year was disrupted with closure and then reopening in a phased approach, as stipulated by the Department of Education. This booklet is a collective effort by academics who are Members of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and other invited scholars to help you appreciate some of the basic scientific facts that you need to know in order to understand the present crisis and the various options available to respond to it. We emphasise that the threat of infectious diseases is not an entirely new phenomenon that has sprung onto the stage out of nowhere. Infectious diseases and pandemics have been with us for centuries, in fact much longer. Scientists have warned us for years of the need to prepare for the next pandemic. Progress in medicine in the course of the 20th century has been formidable. Childhood mortality has greatly decreased almost everywhere in the world, thanks mainly, but not only, to the many vaccines that have been developed. Effective drugs now exist for many deadly diseases for which there were once no cures. For many of us, this progress has generated a false sense of security. It has caused us to believe that the likes of the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic, which caused some 50 million deaths around the world within a span of a few months, could not be repeated in some form in today’s modern world. The Covid-19 pandemic reminds us that as new cures for old diseases are discovered, new diseases come along for which we are unprepared. And every hundred or so years one of these diseases wreaks havoc on the world and interferes severely with our usual ways of going about our lives. Today’s world has become increasingly interconnected and interdependent, through trade, migrations, and rapid air travel. This globalisation makes it easier for epidemics to spread, somewhat offsetting the power of modern medicine. In this booklet we have endeavoured to provide an historical perspective, and to enrich your knowledge with some of the basics of medicine, viruses, and epidemiology. Beyond the immediate Covid-19 crisis, South Africa faces a number of other major health challenges: highly unequal access to quality healthcare, widespread tuberculosis, HIV infection causing AIDS, a high prevalence of mental illness, and a low life expectancy, compared to what is possible with today’s medicine. It is essential that you, as young people, also learn about the nature of these new challenges, so that you may contribute to finding future solutions.
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    Legends of South African Science II
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2020) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    After the overwhelming success of Legends of South African Science, published in 2017 as part of the 20 year celebrations of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), this edition of Legends of South African Science II continues with profiling Members who were elected between 1993 – 2000. The 62 Members profiled in this edition represent some of the longest standing ASSAf Members. One of the strengths of a national Academy is the disciplinary diversity of its Membership. Collectively, the narratives of the Members profiled in this edition represent the apex of academic excellence and scholarship. All these Members have used their formal academic training in their specific fields and demonstrated how, through engagement with scholars in other fields, both locally and internationally, contributed to them becoming champions and leaders in advancing knowledge. Every narrative in this edition provides a unique perspective on contributions by accomplished South African scientists and scholars who, using an evidence-based approach have contributed significantly in growing the global knowledge production in their respective fields. Many of these scholars have held senior positions at academic institutions, been part of national and international committees, served at Governmental positions, and worked unstintingly in shaping the agendas of the post-apartheid South Africa. Their stories are fascinating, their contributions to science invaluable, and their service to society diverse and inspiring. It is also touching and inspiring to see how many scientists during this era were supported, inspired and uplifted by the late President Nelson Mandela. They were all committed to building a democratic South Africa, even in the face of many adversities. ASSAf strives in upholding its mandate of using evidence-based science in the service of society.
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    Neonicotinoid Insecticides: Use and Effects in African Agriculture - A Review and Recommendations to Policymakers
    (Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), 2019) Network of African Science Academies (NASAC)
    Agriculture is critically important for African societies and economies, but ensuring food security for Africa’s growing population is a major challenge due to climate change, structural changes in land use and management, and intensification of agriculture, including the use of pesticides. A synergistic relationship between agriculture and the beneficial services offered by nature (such as pollination and natural pest control) is a foundation of sustainable agriculture on which future food security depends. Such ‘ecosystem services’ are provided mainly (although not exclusively) by invertebrates, and the rapid decline in biodiversity in general and insects in particular globally has implications for productivity and future food security. Beneficial insects increase agricultural productivity and the quality of crops and are as (if not more) important in the African context than the rest of the world. One factor that has been shown to contribute to loss of ecosystem services in Europe and elsewhere is the increased use of a class of systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids, which act as insect neurotoxins. They are taken up by all parts of the plant, are water soluble and can thus spread in the environment, exposing not only the target pests but also beneficial insects ranging from honey bees and other pollinating insects to natural predators of the targeted pests. As a result, the use of some of these insecticides has been restricted in the European Union (EU) and some other countries. The debate preceding the EU restrictions was informed by a study on the impact of neonicotinoids on agriculture and ecosystem services by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC). Building on this foundation, the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) collaborated in a study to examine the implications of neonicotinoid insecticide use for ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture in Africa. The study was conducted between October 2018 and October 2019 and involved two workshops with scientists from 17 African countries as well as an extensive review of relevant African research. This project has collated an unprecedented amount of information, allowing the current situation relating to neonicotinoids in Africa to be assessed for the first time. The findings have been subjected to peer review and endorsed by NASAC member academies.
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    Regulation of Agricultural GM Technology in Africa
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2012) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    This policymakers’ booklet is produced by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) as part of the project “GMOs for African Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges”. The project was implemented through ASSAf’s Committee on Science for Poverty Alleviation. The project is in its second year of implementation with funding from the Global Network of Science Academies (IAP).
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    Science, Water and Sanitation: Supporting Equitable and Sustainable Development in southern Africa
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2012) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region faces a number of challenges in ensuring water for equitable and sustainable development. In most of these countries water resources infrastructure is underdeveloped, and significant climate variability means economic sustainability and development is hostage to rainfall. The aim of this policy-makers’ booklet is to outline the role that science academies can play in assisting policy-makers and managers to address some of the key water challenges in the southern African region. This is part of a process of building a strong partnership between the science community and government actors. It is intended to be useful to policy-makers in the water sector, and to policy-makers in those sectors that are major water users, such as the agricultural, industrial and mining sectors, as well as those with a mandate to protect the natural environment and whose policies and decisions impact directly or indirectly on water quantity, quality and accessibility. The booklet is focused on six countries, namely Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia, each of which has an established science academy, or one that is in the process of being established. However, the messages in this booklet are relevant to the broader southern African region as a whole. This booklet should resonate with policy-makers in the southern Africa region, and together with other similar studies from East, West and North Africa, present an overview of water issues in the continent. The main aim will be to inform the African Ministers’ Committee on Water (AMCOW) and other political and technical leadership in the continent.
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    Turning Science On: Improving Access to Energy in sub-Saharan Africa
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2010) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    Access to modern energy services, defined as electricity and clean cooking fuels, is central to a country’s development. Poor access retards the pace of national development and poverty reduction and delays the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The availability and use of energy will greatly influence how rapidly African countries are able to increase their agricultural productivity, provide safe water, achieve economic development, and use information and communications technologies to become increasingly integrated into the global economy.
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    Inquiry-Based Science Education: Increasing Participation of Girls in Science in sub-Saharan Africa Policy-makers’ Booklet
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2011) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    This policy-makers’ booklet is a joint project of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), the Organisation of Women Scientists for the Developing World (OWSDW) and the Gender Advisory Board of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD).
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    20 Years of Excellence 1996 - 2016
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2016) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    20 Years of Excellence 1996 – 2016 recounts the 20 years of ASSAf’s existence since the early 1990s when trailblazers in academia gave of their time and energy to realise a dream of establishing a fully representative, national academy of science to guide the democratic South Africa into a promising new era. From drafting a constitution for the Academy; putting in place the mechanisms, statutes and machinery needed to run a working national academy of science, ASSAf’s remarkable journey testifies to perceptive vision to ensure a legacy of knowledge. Since its inception, ASSAf has grown from a small, emergent organisation to a well-established academy. It has pursued its mandate of providing evidence-based science advice in support of policy development on issues of national significance to government and beyond. The book describes the early beginnings to define and form a unique crucible, through to creating a unitary academy of sciences, encompassing all science disciplines.
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    Legends of South African Science
    (Academy of Science of South Africa, 2017) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    Legends of South African Science introduces Academy Members who rank among the top achievers in the country. Legends profiles ASSAf Members who have received some of South Africa’s top awards, viz. the ASSAf Science-for-Society Gold Medal, National Orders of Mapungubwe and Baobab bestowed by the President, or the Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship. Among the Members featured in the book are a biologist and Nobel Laureate who helped decode DNA; an epidemiologist recognised for groundbreaking research on HIV prevention in women; a social scientist who nudged and cajoled into place the campaign to understand and contain HIV/AIDS in South Africa; a leading mathematics education proponent; a human geneticist whose work helped to clarify the origins of indigenous groups in Africa; one of the world's leading theorists in cosmology; and a leading immunologist and physician who pioneered higher education transformation in South Africa, in sometimes controversial ways.
©The Author/Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)