For the past nine years I had the privilege of being the science adviser to three New Zealand prime ministers. This involved dealing with domestic and international challenges about how science feeds into policymaking that affects the daily lives of every man, woman and child. Examples include vaccination and immunisations, tackling youth obesity and advising on legal and illicit drug use. These "life and death" issues have resonance for countries worldwide. Yet my daily interactions were always flanked by awareness of progress in other countries, and among those were valuable relationships with the SA science system. As a leader in pan-African policy innovation, SA gets the importance of scientific evidence to support laws meeting the nation and its citizens’ needs. I have shared multiple platforms with SA leaders and intellectuals. One of my career highlights was receiving the inaugural American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Diplomacy Award in 2015, to be fo...

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