National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Special Annual Theme Award

About the Award

Special Annual Theme Award: The NSTF is making a special award this year for an outstanding contribution to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation from research and development in the Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development. This is in recognition of the proclamation by the United Nations of the Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development being 2021 to 2030.  The subject is also a government priority. The Ocean Sciences are defined as being: ocean resource development, living and non- living resources and their exploration, conservation, fostering, consumption, management and trade; (as per US legislation of 1948). We visualize that the topic can cover amongst others: climate change, a just transition to a low carbon economy, and conserving the planet.

Quoting from the UN website :

The decade of ocean science is intended to boost international coordination and cooperation in research and scientific programmes for better management of ocean and coastal zone resources.

For example, it’s expected that a global effort to map the entire ocean floor will be completed by 2030.

The plan for the UN Decade has recently been approved. This includes a clean ocean where sources of pollution are identified and reduced or removed; a healthy and resilient ocean where marine ecosystems are understood, protected, restored and managed; and a safe ocean where life and livelihoods are protected from ocean-related hazards.

Life Below Water and the UN

  • Conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources is the central focus of SDG 14 one of 17 goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents, and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind.
  • Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea.
  • Over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihood.
  • The health of the ocean will ultimately determine the survival of humankind on Earth, according to the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson. Marking the opening of the International Decade for Ocean Science, the former top Fijian diplomat and General Assembly president, told UN News that a healthy planet is inextricably linked to a healthy ocean.

How much more is there to discover about the ocean?

  • At the moment, only around 10 per cent of the ocean’s make-up is understood by science. In the years ahead, we will have some very important decisions to take on our relationship with this planet and we will need to make them on the basis of solid science. With the ocean covering 70 per cent of the planet, full scientific knowledge of its properties is clearly required. It is for this reason that the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development assumes such great importance for us all.
  • Throughout the Decade, the ocean science community will be called upon to play a central role in global efforts towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 14 which focuses on conserving and sustainably using the ocean’s resources.

For the purposes of the award: 

  • An outstanding contribution to SET and innovation through ocean science, towards understanding and mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity and enabling just transitions to carbon neutrality.
  • Highlight links between the ocean sciences and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • We restrict what the award embraces to the SET and related innovations which support the economy in a sustainable manner.
  • Finding innovative solutions to challenges in the economy, including solutions based on indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) which are based on one or more of the ocean sciences, directed towards sustainable development in South Africa, particularly for job creation and the alleviation of poverty will also be considered in this category.
  • The work can be theoretical, or practical, and should endeavour to include analyses of the approximate or relative costs involved to commercialise the work. The Decade is an opportunity to raise awareness on how ocean sciences can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development.

The Annual Theme Award can be awarded according to the criteria in any one of the other Awards categories, which are described in detail on separate pages and the respective nomination forms for each category.

In the last section of the nomination forms additional input is requested to the extent that is practical.

* Describe in what way the work and outputs described in the motivation are based on one or more of the ocean sciences. A comprehensive description is needed and claims must be backed up with substantive information. Do not repeat what has already been set out in the main motivation, but some reference to the relevant information in the main motivation where applicable would be necessary.
* What further developments would be necessary for the outputs described to become innovations if they are not already? Are these new uses, new applications or reconfigurations of older applications?
* Over and above what has been stated in the motivation, is there any possible further contribution to the economy from the SET work?
* To what extent does the work and outputs provide for social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction?
* To what extent is the SET work resource efficient, and does it contribute to environmental protection and to the reduction of the effects of/on climate change?
* Describe to what extent the SET work contributes to the preservation of cultural values, supports diversity and respects heritage where applicable?
* Describe to what extent the SET work contributes to mutual understanding and peace and security?
* The nominator should endeavour to include analyses of the approximate or relative costs involved to commercialise the work.


  • Year 2015:  Photonics – Winner: Prof Andrew Forbes

NSTF-South32 Awards


The NSTF welcomes collaboration with other organisations, such as those they have been in partnerships with for many years:

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