Edgar Pieterse appointed co-chair of T7 task force

African Centre for Cities Director and South African Research Chair in Urban Policy, Prof Edgar Pieterse, is taking up the co-chair of the Science and Digitalisation for A Better Future task force as part of Think7 (T7), the official think tank engagement group of the Group of 7 (G7), which provides research-based policy recommendations for G7 countries and partners.

He co-chairs along side Anna-Katharina Hornidge, of the German Institute of Development and Sustainability and Alyssa Jade McDonald-Baertl, CGIAR System. The task force focuses on science policy bottlenecks that are hindering the potential for scientific advances and digitalisation to enhance human capital development, long term economic productivity, and system change.

“It is an exciting opportunity to co-chair Task Force 3 because it goes to the heart of the international distortion of the scientific endeavour,” says Pieterse. “Due to historical reasons profound inequalities persist in how scientific problems are prioritised, who is awarded funding to conduct the research and the epistemological biases of such research, often Eurocentric.”

Prof Edgar Pieterse

He underscores that since the T7 informs the policy deliberations of the G7 there is an opportunity to open up vital debates about aligning scientific infrastructures with the SDGs and creating a dialogue with the G20 and the T20, especially on issues pertaining to the role of urbanisation in forging inclusive digital access and just sustainability transitions.

The task force seeks to highlight the importance of approaching science and digitalisation as international public goods. It’s agenda includes cross-border science and innovation policies, multilateral science financing architecture, digital infrastructure investment, digital security, connectivity and interoperability, and the development of frontier technology as a public good in fields such as biotechnology, spatial exploration, and polar research.

Suggested policy brief topics include: (i) the role of science, technology, and innovation in sustainable development and resilience across the G7 and Group of 20 (G20); (ii) cybersecurity and data privacy in a digitally connected world, digital education, and IT literacy and equality; (iii) the potential for science and inclusive methods and transformative innovation to generate sustainable food, water, and land systems at scale; (iv) and intellectual property rights regimes, their assets, and limitations.