Together with my team, I was truly honoured to present Dr. John N. Nkengasong with this year’s Boris Mints Institute Prize for Global Challenges in a live ceremony from Tel Aviv University.
This academic award is given in recognition of outstanding proponents of global solutions to society’s greatest challenges. The 2021 Prize was presented to Dr. Nkengasong in acknowledgement of his vital contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Africa and globally, in his role as Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)
Dr Nkengasong’s distinguished work in public health has shone a light on the true disparity between developed and developing countries’ ability to respond to the pandemic, and how much work is needed to level the playing field. It is for us now to listen and to respond.
The importance of co-ordinated approaches to global challenges
This Prize was initiated in 2017 to highlight the work of exceptional individuals dedicated to solving strategic global challenges, and whose public action and ideas have contributed to the welfare of a significant number of communities worldwide.
A key aspect of the Prize is raising awareness about those issues facing communities all around the world, not least the current COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and entrenched levels of economy disparity between richer and poorer nations.
No single organisation or actor can hold all the solutions to these truly global challenges. The truth is global challenges demand global solutions, and global solutions can only be enacted with cross-national co-operation in planning and delivery.
Dr. Nkengasong has exemplified the importance of co-operation between nations and experts in the face of a public health emergency. Under the auspices of Africa CDC, an emergency meeting of all 55 Ministers of Health of the African Union spearheaded the adoption of a Joint Continental Strategy in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 and led to the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) and genomic surveillance to identify COVID-19 variants circulating in Africa. This landmark conference, and especially the vital agreement of a shared Continental Strategy, serves as an exemplar for policy makers and political leaders.
Bringing together innovation and co-operation on a global scale
If we succeed in bringing together the best innovation and creating frameworks for effective international co-operation, there are real reasons for optimism about humanity’s ability to respond to our greatest challenges.
This is core to the mission of the Boris Mints Institute and also, a core value of the Jewish people – if the world is not as it should be, it is our responsibility to face these challenges head on and to create change for the better.
Over the coming months, I will be using this Blog platform to outline a number of significant global challenges, and will detail how innovation – both at the Boris Mints Institute and more widely – is developing important solutions for the benefit of the world.
Each solution demands international cooperation and support to ensure they can be applied globally and for the benefit of all. I will start with climate change – the greatest global challenge facing us all – and will profile how work around the newly inaugurated Matanel Garden at Tel Aviv University is leading to climate innovation and technology that can change the world. This may sound utopian, but as the career of Dr. Nkengasong shows, when we innovate and co-operate together, global results are possible. The fight to address our world’s greatest challenges is far from over, in fact, it has only just begun.