Inaugural Tang Prize laureate in Rule of Law and former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Albie Sachs is set to speak at The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) annual meeting this week, November 18, 2015. His talk will reflect the central theme of the academy’s 26th General Meeting, sustainability in fields such as agriculture and food, science and technology, and poverty reduction. Over 300 academicians representing 60 countries will attend the event, which will commence at Wednesday’s opening ceremony, followed by Sachs’ keynote speech, entitled “The Grootboom dilemma–sustainable development and overcoming poverty.”
A landmark case in South African constitutional law, the Government of the Republic of South Africa and Others v Grootboom and Others was heard to decide the constitutionality of the eviction of 15 people in temporary housing from privately owned land. Sachs was sitting as one of the South African Constitutional Court Justices at the time of the case, and was close to leaving the position because of the dilemma it presented—clearly the owners had legitimate property rights and the occupants had legitimate rights to adequate housing. The court’s decision was not compromise, but “mediation and reasonable engagement” between the two parties. Poverty has become even more visible after the UNFCCC announced “No Poverty” as the first of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Reflecting the increasing awareness of the poor, Sachs has noted that sustainable development should not place its sole focus on enrichment of society, but also on the accommodation of the poor in a sustainable society.
On invitation from TWAS, the Tang Prize Foundation proposed Sachs as the keynote speaker at this year’s meeting. Tang Prize CEO Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern, former Academia Sinica President Yuan Tseh Lee, and University System of Taiwan (UST) head Ovid Tzeng will also attend the meeting. It is hoped that the values of the Tang Prize and Albie’s call for change will lead to more universal and equitable mechanisms for sustainable development, and effect a more sustainable balance between civilization and nature.
Watch the live-stream of the opening ceremony and Albie Sachs’ keynote at www.oeaw.ac.at/twas/ , this Wednesday, November 18.
Opening ceremony: 4:00p.m., Vienna time (11/18, 11:00p.m., Taipei time)
Albie Sachs’ keynote: 5:30p.m., Vienna time (11/19, 12:30a.m., Taipei time)