The launch of MISTRA has come at a critical and opportune time - one that demands new strategic thinking and approaches to meeting political, social, economic and environmental challenges both in South Africa and globally. Never before have the fortunes within and between countries been so intertwined.
No one country or stakeholder group can resolve or control the decisions and changes that are required. The growing complexity and pace of change in the world today puts a high premium on knowledge, research, innovation and strategic perspectives. Societies that fail to address these as a foundation for advancement will increasingly be left behind.
Additionally, the global financial crisis has brought to the fore the limitations of our economic systems in meeting the needs of the poor and many ordinary people. This has stimulated new research into societal well-being and what measures will adequately capture and reflect a healthy society.
Some of the world’s most eminent scholars and intellectuals are involved in rethinking the way we look at our economies and their performance. South Africa, highly integrated in the world economy, is impacted profoundly by these global dynamics. It also has to deal with the overlay of its own particular needs, constraints, stresses and problems.
After more than 15 years of democratic transformation, amidst the testing global arena, many new fault-lines are emerging. As in the early Nineties, when we had to garner our intellectual energy to provide a launch-pad for democracy, today we need to do the same again for a different period in the history of South Africa and the world, but one in which many of our earlier needs remain unresolved.
MISTRA’s mission and objectives are perfectly pitched to the changes that are being demanded and needed for South Africa to progress. In less than a year, it has developed an institutional framework, started important research, appointed fellows and created a collaborative network of intellectuals and educational institutions. I’m sure I speak for all of our board members and advisors in congratulating Joel Netshitenzhe and his team for their vision and hard work. The right foundation has been laid for MISTRA to make its mark.
Chairperson of the Council of Advisors