The conference was interdisciplinary in nature, with presenters from the Humanities, Health Sciences and Agriculture, Engineering and Science converging to discuss how to secure peace and security – 4IR.
It was organised by acting Dean Professor Nirmala Gopal, who spoke about security in the 4IR. Gopal noted that, ‘the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on various forms of securities are critical in terms of overall security of all aspects of life. Moving into the future it is critical for the various securities to intersect to meet the realities of the 4IR.’
Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Ernest Khalema remarked that the conference was ‘timely for South Africa and would lead to critical conversations for change.’
The CEO of the ETDP SETA Ms Sesi Nombulelo Nxesi delivered the keynote address. She highlighted that South Africa needs to move forward regarding the 4IR and outlined how her organisation plans to dovetail into this transition. ‘While the 4IR is evolving at an exponential rate, South Africa is lagging behind because we are still grappling with poverty, unemployment and subsequently crime. We need institutions like UKZN to facilitate the 4IR and we need to upskill our people,’ she said.
Nxesi argued that the 4IR has the potential to negatively impact or emancipate South Africans. ‘While no revolution will leave the human being behind, without skills evolution, there will be no peace, which is needed for sustainable development and our livelihoods. We need to address these issues…social security first,’ she said.