In 2007, Sepo Hachigonta was a first-year PhD student studying crop and climate modelling and member of the YSSP cohort. Today, he is the director in the strategic partnership directorate at the National Research Foundation (NRF) in South Africa and one of the editors of the recently launched book Systems Analysis for Complex Global Challenges, which summarises systems analysis research and its policy implications for issues in South Africa.
But the YSSP program is what first planted the seed for systems analysis thinking, he says, with lots of potential for growth.
Through his YSSP experience, Hachigonta saw that his research could impact the policy system within his home country of South Africa and the nearby region, and he forged lasting bonds with his peers. Together, they were able to think broadly about both academic and cultural issues, giving them the tools to challenge uncertainty and lead systems analysis research across the globe.
Afterwards, Hachigonta spent four years as part of a team leading the NRF, the South African IIASA national member organization (NMO), as well as the Southern African Young Scientists Summer Program (SA-YSSP), which later matured into the South African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC).
Now, many years into the relationship between IIASA and South Africa, that partnership has grown.
In fact, several of the co-authors are former SA-YSSP alumni and supervisors turned experts in their fields.
“Systems analysis is like a black box, we do it every day but don’t learn what exactly it is. But in different countries and different sectors, people are always using systems analysis methodologies,” said Hachigonta, “so we’re hoping this book will enlighten the research community as well as other stakeholders on what systems analysis is and how it can be used to understand some of the challenges that we have.”
- By Sandra Ortellado, IIASA Science Communication Fellow 2018 (See extended story at https://blog.iiasa.ac.at/2018/07/09/the-legacy-of-systems-analysis-in-south-africa-when-young-scientists-become-global-leaders/.)