One Week at the UN Science Summit

The 9th edition of the Science Summit around the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) was held in NYC, from Sept 12-29.

The central theme of the Summit was around the role and contribution of science to attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The objective was to develop and launch science collaborations to demonstrate global science mechanisms and activities to support the attainment of the UN SDGs,Agenda 2030 and Local2030. The meeting also prepared inputs for the United Nations Summit of the Future.

Landcent Europe had the distinct privilege of participating in the opening week of theSummit, speaking at panels, delivering keynotes and networking with several leading policy makers in the UN ecosystem.

Left to right: Arun Prabhu (Chief Executive Officer, Landcent Europe); Peter Atadja (Chief Scientific Advisor, Landcent Europe); Erik Coumou (VP, Life SciencePartnerships, Landcent Europe); Thomas John (TJ) (Chief Strategy Officer, Landcent Europe) in NYC, NY.


1. The opening plenary reiterated the capacity of science to unpack the complexities in relation to societal challenges, through modelling outcomes, studying systems, and providing clear pathways to solutions. The speakers included Magdalena Skipper, Editor-In-Chief Nature, Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo CEO, National Science Foundation, South Africa, Irene Norstedt Director, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission, among other senior leaders.

2. “Harnessing Indigenous Knowledge Systems to Combat Diseases of Poverty”, the Landcent Panel was featured as part of “Pandemic Preparedness: Defining the UN-level strategy for the Summit of the Future 2024 with the National Research Foundation, South Africa”. The panel had on it, Thomas John (TJ), (Chief Strategy Officer), Peter Atadja (Chief Scientific Advisor), Mosoka Fallah, Africa CDC, Michael Makanga, EDCTP, Aunkh Chabalala, National Director of the Indigenous Knowledge-Based Technology Innovation, South Africa, Triona McCormack, Director of Research, University CollegeDublin, Ireland and was moderated by Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief,Nature. The session deconstructed the various epistemological assumptions in approaches to policy, the challenge of representation and the need for greater agency to the Global South to determine the outcomes of the developmental assistance.

Left to right: Thomas John (TJ) (Chief Strategy Officer, Landcent Europe); Peter Atadja (Chief Scientific Advisor, Landcent Europe); Michael Makanga, (Executive Director, EDCTP); Aunkh Chabalala, (National Director of the Indigenous Knowledge-Based Technology Innovation, South Africa); Triona McCormack, (Director of Research, UCD); Magdalena Skipper, (Editor-in-Chief, Nature).

Reactions to the Landcent Panel:

“This is honestly the only panel of the kind I’ve moderated at the conference – don’t want it to end!” – Magdalena Skipper, Editor, Nature
“I will strongly recommend the suggestions that came out of this panel to the UN”– Alison Derbenwick Miller, Oracle
“I would like to thank you for the fascinating panel of indigenous knowledge systems” – Josef Glößl, BOKU, Austria
“The highlight of the day!” – Carlos Americo Pacheco, FAPESP

3. The concluding day for the week featured high profile meetings and panels, including Dr. Francis Collins (Senior Advisor & Former NIH Director; Former Acting Science Advisor to President Biden), Dr. Harold Varmus (Chair of WHO Science Council) and others, on the imperative to align investment in health research in Africa.

 Landcent’s Chief Strategy Officer, Thomas John (TJ) was given a slot to speak at the “Change makers Lunch: Fostering Transformative Change: Strategic Investment in Health Research Across Africa.” TJ highlighted Landcent’s unique journey and its particular focus on both commodities (treated bed-nets, indoor residual sprays etc.) and solutions (discovery platform to develop bio-pesticides to combat vector resistance). He also spoke about the need to approach funding and assistance through a “horizontal paradigm,” that co-creates metrics and indices of outcomes of assistance as opposed to a“hierarchical paradigm” which assumes there is a universal telos as determined by the Global North which the South must adhere to.

Thomas John (TJ)  speaks at “Changemakers Lunch: Fostering Transformative Change: Strategic Investment in Health Research Across Africa.”

In terms of outcomes, we have qualified leads to Accenture, Wellcome Trust, EDCTP, National Research Foundation, South Africa, Research Data Alliance and look forward to actively engaging with appropriate stakeholders from all these leading organizations, over the next couple of weeks. We capped the week with meetings with Schrödinger and Omdena,  to explore partnerships to accelerate our active ingredients discovery project using new computational, A.I. driven engines.

Lots happening at Landcent at usual – so stay tuned for more highlights!

Team Landcent at the Conference

Left to right: Peter Atadja, Dr. Ebere Igboko (Advisory Board member); Arun Prabhu Stanley, Erik Coumou, Thomas John (TJ).
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