Dr Gansen Pillay conferred “IIASA Honorary Scholar” by IIASA

Dr Gansen Pillay conferred “IIASA Honorary Scholar” by IIASA

Dr Gansen Pillay, Deputy Chief Executive Officer RISA, has been recognised by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) with an appointment as IIASA Honorary Scholar. A highly significant title, Dr Pillay’s long-standing commitment and prominent leadership in establishing and expanding systems analysis in Africa has been recognised.

Dr Pillay served as the representative of the South African National Membership Organisation (NMO), and the NRF, on the Governing Council of IIASA for the past 14 years, and as Deputy Chairperson of Council for two terms (2018-2021). His wide-ranging and influential engagements with IIASA include, inter alia, as member of the Council Executive Committee, ExCo member of the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee, the Membership Committee, the Research and Engagement Committee, Director Search Committees, IIASA Charter Revision Committee, and member of the ad hoc Working Group on Membership Dues. In addition, he was influential in advising on the review of IIASA during 2018, leading to a fundamental renewal in organisational, governance and scientific matters of the organisation.

The strategic partnership between the NRF and IIASA was established in 2007, with support of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). Prominent aspects of the development of the IIASA and South Africa engagement over the years was the launch of the Southern African Young Scientists Summer Programme (SA-YSSP) (2012-2014) that has developed system analytical research skills of more than 80 doctoral students from 30 countries including 35 students from South Africa in partnership with over twenty South African research partners. The concomitant launch of the Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) during 2016 provided enhanced opportunities for young, emerging doctoral candidates to advance their research under the supervision of senior IIASA and South African researchers/scientists, and at the same time contribute to the development of a globally competitive science system. In partnership with the  British Council, 50 doctoral students working on systems analysis are being supported.

Programmes that have been initiated during 2020 include the Connect Platform of IIASA to further strengthen and formalise placements of South African students and researchers within the IIASA community, aligned with the NRF’s Global Knowledge Partnership programme.

The adherence to IIASA is coordinated by Strategic Partnerships, with Dr Sepo Hachigonta, Director Multilateral and Resource Partnerships leading the engagements. Dr Hachigonta was a Fellow at IIASA in 2007. Recently, IIASA awarded Ms Kekeletso Makau, a Corporate Communications Intern at the NRF, an External Relations Fellowship. During the Fellowship, Ms Makau has been working closely with IIASA’s Communications and External Relations (CER) Department and the NRF Corporate Communications, to increase South Africa’s participation in IIASA engagements.

In 2015, a DSI-NRF SARChI Chair in Systems Analysis was competitively awarded to the University of the Witwatersrand. Recognised South African scholars served on the Science Advisory Committee of IIASA, the apex science coordination and monitoring body, including Professors Mary Scholes and Colleen Vogel.

IIASA, established in 1972,  is an independent international research institute located in Laxenburg, near Vienna, in Austria. Through its research programs and initiatives, the institute conducts policy-oriented interdisciplinary research into issues too large or complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. This includes pressing concerns that affect the future of humanity, such as climate changeenergy securitypopulation aging, and sustainable development. The results of IIASA research and the expertise of its researchers are made available to policymakers in countries around the world to help them produce effective, science-based policies that will enable them to face these challenges. IIASA currently has 22 member countries representing 71% of the world’s economy and 63% of the world’s population.

South Africa’s coordination with IIASA is led by a National Member Organisation (NMO), comprised of representatives of the NRF and the Department of Science and Innovation, senior academics, and other stakeholders. The NMO Committee also contributes to the national strategy of developing systems analysis capacity and establishing systems analysis as a research approach in the country.

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