President Masisi challenges universities to interrogate implementation of SDGs

Masisi SANORD

The President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, has challenged institutions of higher learning such as the University of Botswana to take a proactive role of constantly addressing challenges that confront humanity in its endeavour to achieve sustainable development.

Dr Masisi was giving a keynote address at the 12th SANORD International Conference held at the UB Conference Centre on September 11, 2019. The theme of the conference is “Role of Higher Education in Forging Sustainable Livelihoods”.

The President challenged institutions of higher learning to strategically interrogate the implementation of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said academics and researchers need to constantly and objectively assess success and challenges that countries had to contend with to come up with implementable solutions.

Therefore, Dr Masisi called on SANORD conference delegates to consider and reflect more on their role in promoting sustainable development besides conducting a holistic diagnosis and analysis of risks communities were exposed to in their endeavour to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

He noted that the theme of the conference was also a clarion call to higher academic institutions such as the University of Botswana to be always responsive to society’s needs. However, he observed that no institution could do such in isolation hence the need for global partnerships with various stakeholders at all levels.

He further challenged institutions of higher learning to recommit themselves and to be in the forefront of empowering communities towards sustainable livelihoods by constantly and proactively addressing the challenges that confront humanity.

Meanwhile, President Masisi commended the Southern African-Nordic Centre (SANORD) for hosting its 12th Annual Scientific Conference at the University of Botswana because it would boost Botswana’s image and status as an international conference destination.

He said hosting of the conference at the University of Botswana was a reflection of the confidence the international community placed on Botswana. He said the theme of the conference was apt but challenging in that it spoke to sustainable livelihoods in an increasingly fractured world.

Welcoming guests, UB Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, also commended SANORD for choosing to host the conference at the UB Conference Centre instead of a commercial hotel because it afforded delegates the opportunity to have an overview of the university’s location and structure.

Professor Norris reiterated the vision of the University of Botswana to be a leading centre of academic excellence in research that has impact on society. He said as such UB aspired to be a research intensive institution by the year 2021.

The Vice Chancellor also recommitted the University of Botswana to the role of spearheading Botswana’s transformation process from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. Professor Norris added that Universities had the obligation to meet communities’ legitimate expectations of assisting governments to implement United Nations Agenda 2030.

SANORD Chairperson, Professor Yohana Mashalla said SANORD existed to help governments of member countries to implement their development plans given its high concentration of a highly trained and skilled manpower.

SANORD is a non-profit, membership driven organisation formed in 2007 with eight founding members. Since then SANORD has grown to 48 members, 27 southern African institutions (which are based in the following countries; Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and 21 Nordic institutions in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

It is a well-established and relevant network of higher education institutions with accountable impact on global sustainable development through mutual partnership and academic exchange between higher education institutions in the southern African and Nordic countries.

The network seeks to address sustainable development and the UN’s SDGs through joint activities of research, education and other activities relevant for the member institutions. SANORD activities are based on academic quality, academic freedom and fundamental values of democracy, human rights, equity and diversity.