Science and technology minister Naledi Pandor was this weekend awarded one of science’s most prestigious global diplomacy prizes.
The award, presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to furthering science diplomacy.
Pandor, speaking after the awards ceremony in Boston in the United States on Saturday, said that the award recognised South Africa’s development as a country. “We regard this as the recognition of the entire people of our country and the efforts we began to make from 1994 when we started to build our very new and still young democracy,” she said.
Pandor has served as science minister since 2009, interrupted by a stint as home affairs minister from 2012 t0 2014.
“Under her leadership, South Africa has made numerous contributions to building science structures in organisations such as the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, to strengthening the science granting councils of other African countries, and to expanding the role of the Global Research Council,” said Tom Wang, AAAS’ chief international officer and director of the Center for Science Diplomacy.
Pandor was nominated by Jean Lebel, president of Canada’s International Development Research Center. In his letter of nomination, he wrote: “Under Minister Pandor’s leadership, South Africa has become a catalyst for developing scientific capabilities across the African continent.”
Last year, Germany awarded Pandor with one of their highest honours, the “Grand Cross of Merit with Star and Shoulder Ribbon of the Order of the Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany”. The deputy head of the Germany embassy in South Africa, Klaus Streicher, also submitted a letter of support for Pandor’s AAAS award. “Naledi Pandor is an outstanding woman committed to scientific advancement and co-operation, not only in her own country, but with a global perspective,” Streicher wrote.