Natural Sciences


Science, Engineering Technology and Innovation (SETI) lies at the core of advancing the global sustainable development goals and fulfilling national visions of many African countries. In light of this, the Natural Science Sector at the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa seeks to strengthen SETI policy systems and governance strategies nationally and regionally as well as promote south-south, north-south scientific cooperation on critical challenges of climate change, water and natural resources for sustainable development. These strategic objectives are also aligned to UNESCO Priority Africa flagship programmes 3 and 4 [i] and to the African Union vision to build an integrated and prosperous Africa that is driven by SETI for sustainable development and shared prosperity. Areas of focus are as follows:

  • Strengthening member states capacity in evidence based SETI policy review/formulation implementation and monitoring for sustainable development;
  • Increasing human and institutional capacities in research, development and innovation to create a critical mass of both men and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for Africa’s socio-economic and industrial transformation;
  • Encouraging the participation of youth in the use and application of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) for research, innovation, socio-economic development, commercialization of research results and entrepreneurship;
  • Empowering the youth especially girls and women to take up STEM education and careers;
  • Promoting scientific and indigenous knowledge and capacity for protecting and sustainably managing the oceans and coasts;
  • Promoting the establishment and management of Biosphere Reserves and Geo-parks as laboratories for research, income generation and learning platforms for sustainable development;
  • Strengthening capacity in fresh water security to respond to national and regional challenges including knowledge generation, innovation and the development of human and institutional capacities in policy systems and improved trans-boundary cooperation;
  • Supporting the development of tools for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and preparedness, improved early warning of natural hazards and resilience building.

The Regional Science Sector works in close collaboration with member states and the regional and international bodies such as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC); African Union Commission on the implementation of its STISA 2024 Strategy and; the African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI) through its network with over 200 science and engineering institutions in 37 countries in Africa. We strive to make science work for the sustainable socio-economic transformation of Africa.


Our multi-bilateral partners include the World Bank, the European Union Commission,Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and working under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in ‘delivering as one’.


[i] PAF3: Harnessing STI and knowledge for the sustainable socio-economic development of Africa; PAF4: Fostering science for the sustainable management of Africa’s natural resources and disaster risk reduction

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