2014 has come with a bang for ICSU ROA. Not only is the Office dealing with the pending renewal of the Regional Committee for Africa, but it is also going through a second review since its inception. In the midst of these are various meetings and projects that the Office is busy coordinating, some involving partners from all over the continent and around the globe. These all rely on our team of 5 people, which often has to stretch itself beyond the word. Preparations for the 31st ICSU General Assembly are also underway, and we look forward to it.
However, we remain focused and determined to do our best because we have to deliver on our mandate and meet the expectations of the science community in the region. Some of the exciting projects coming up in the first 6 Months of the year are:
1. Meeting of the African Science Plan Steering Committee, which will be hosted in Pretoria during March 2014. Implementation of Science Plans is probably the most important activity for the Office and we are lucky to have dedicated scientists on the continent who have partnered with this Office, first to develop the science plans and now to implement them, in the face of scarce resources. The Steering Committee was constituted during the past year and the meeting will serve to finalize the terms of reference, take stock of what has been accomplished, and come up with a way forward.
2. The Global Environmental Change Symposium is to be held at the University of Mauritius in April, in partnership with the Africa Institute of South Africa, where three books co- published between the three partners will be launched. Some of the scientists who have tirelessly dedicated their time and energy to produce these books will attend the symposium, to share first-hand information on the content of the books they worked on.
3. The long awaited meeting to enhance "collaboration between the development aid and the global environmental change communities to achieve development goals in Africa" will be held in May, hosted by the University of Johannesburg at its Soweto Campus. This is one of the meetings funded from the first Sida grant to ICSU, and its primary expected outcome is for delegates to identify needs and priorities for research on global sustainability common to these two communities, as well as how to fund such research.
4. ICSU ROA is for the first time involved in the consortium for the annual conference "African Unity for Rennaisance", which is normally held along the lines of the Africa Day celebrations, during May. The Office is working alongside fellow Pan-African institutions with the aim of strengthening the science part of the conference. This, the fourth conference of its kind, will be held in Pretoria, South Africa. The theme of the conference, the Quest for African Solution for African Problems, fits in well with ICSU ROA's mandate, and a number of ICSU ROA-linked experts have taken on the role of peer reviewing papers that will be presented.
5. Following the successful Future Earth consultative workshop for Africa, held in October/November 2012, the Office will host a follow up meeting during June 2014. Academia, Academies of Science and all key stakeholders on the continent, to discuss Future Earth and its implications for the continent, as well as identify their possible roles in its implementation.
Our plate is indeed full, but with the assistance we get from our partners and African scientists, we often manage to stretch our capacity to achieve much more; and this time we will need to do so much more than ever before.