On November 3, 2022, the president of INGSA (International Network for Governance Science Advice), chief Scientist of Québec, president of Fonds de Recherche du Québec and the Chief Scientist of Canada, organized a forum entitled entitled “Making informed decisions…makes a difference!” at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal, Canada. The event mobilizes the main organizations of the Francophonie and allows the network and several international figures to share their expertise in the perspective of future collaborations.

Justine Germo Nzweundji, UMAPS 2022 fellow and president of the Cameroon Academy of Young Scientists, participated in the high panel on “Zone de conflits: la science dans tous ses états.” Other panelists included Lassina Zerbo, president of the Atomic Energy Commission of Rwanda and former Prime Minister of Burkina-Faso, and M. Geoffroi Montpetit, administrator of the International Organization of the Francophonie. It was moderated by the Chief Scientist of Quebec, Rémi Quirion.

Justine G. Nzweundji focused her remarks on three points:

  • The importance of indigenous or traditional knowledge versus empirical scientific knowledge systems into decision-making processes. At the interface of the two knowledge systems, Nzweundji emphasized the link between the two. 80% of the African population rely on traditional medicine for their primary health care. Ignoring traditional knowledge when making health policies means ignoring the reality of 80% of the population. She presented successful cases during the covid-19 pandemic, where collaboration between traditional health practitioners and scientists during the the COVID-19 pandemic in Cameroon, led the government to authorize the marketing of four to five improved traditional remedies in the fight against Covid-19. She encouraged policymakers, decision-makers, and government officials to invest, support, and value the two types of knowledge for well-informed decision-making.
  • The importance of solidarity amongst scientists during adversarial situations such as what obtains in Ukraine and the protests in Iran. When the lives of scientists are threatened, networks of scientists can stand together to amplify their voice to address human rights and encourage scientists to collaborate with scholars in areas of conflict. Further, support for students and scholars of science need not take into account color, passport, or any other discriminating features.
  • Science advice is not dissociated with other non STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields, but African countries are shifting paradigm because they are moving towards industrialization, entailing the processing of their natural resources for export of finished goods. These require development of STEM expertise.