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Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS)

Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS) logo

UNAS is a scientific organization that brings together scientists from various disciplines, including the behavioral, biological, physical and social sciences in Uganda. These scientists contribute to scholarship, policy making and socioeconomic development both nationally and internationally by offering evidence-based solutions to address complex development challenges. 

The Differentiator
UNAS occupies a unique position of autonomy and academic authority, enabling them to articulate unbiased truths without fear or favor. Their model aims to transform leadership mindsets, with a firm belief that leaders have the capacity to initiate systemic improvements that can impact thousands or millions of people.

Why Their Work Matters
The transformation of Ugandan society depends on reshaping its leadership, historically limited in opportunities for open reflection. With the emergence of a new generation, Uganda's future depends on synthesizing past experiences, current realities, and optimistic envisioning. UNAS serves as a platform where these elements converge, fostering the creation of a new vision for sustainable and long-term national transformation.

  • Female scientists in Uganda experienced a remarkable 30% growth in recognition for their contributions to development from 2015 to 2023, demonstrating a positive trajectory.
  • UNAS rigorously evaluates 100% of Uganda's vaccine policies and immunization practices through multidisciplinary expert scrutiny by the Academy. This ensures that decisions related to new vaccine investments or changes in immunization practices are informed by local expertise, providing contextually relevant, apolitical, and credible advice to the government.
  • The Academy's 2013-2014 study on tobacco prevention and control played a pivotal role in breaking a parliamentary deadlock, leading to the enactment of Uganda's Tobacco Control Act in 2015.
  • 162 fellows, representing Uganda's eminent scholars from different disciplines, provide pro bono advisory services to strengthen the nation's evidence-informed policymaking ecosystem.
  • 86% of the Ministries in the Government of Uganda benefit from the Academy's transdisciplinary consensus studies, technical working groups, workshops, and roundtables.
  • Each year, ~600+ professionals from the government, indigenous civil society organizations, local businesses, and academia work together through the Academy's convening and consensus activities to solve the nation's most pressing problems.
Systems Change
Systems Change
  • Leading by example, the Academy has intentionally elected outstanding female scientists as its leaders for the past six years. In 2019-2022, the Council (Board) of the Academy consisted of six female scientists and five male scientists. For the 2022-2025 term, the Council has five female scientists and six males. Three female scientists hold the most senior positions on the Council: President, Vice President, and Treasurer. UNAS is the first science academy in Africa to consistently and wholeheartedly uplift its female scientists. This move has disrupted science governance systems in Africa.
  • Centering country ownership of Uganda's development agenda has led to mindset and behavioral shifts across sectors. The Academy's studies showcase the power of multi and transdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving that break down divisions between sectors. Over time, addressing development challenges becomes holistic. No single discipline or sector can adequately solve societal problems, calling into question the supremacy of siloed problem-solving.
  • Examining development partnerships, global power dynamics, and national agenda-setting shines a light on the governance and interpersonal practices that have to change to realize development at the community level.

Christian Acemah

Executive Director
Executive Director

Christian Acemah has served as the Executive Director of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences (UNAS) since November 1, 2015. Before this role, he held the position of Director of Strategy and Program Development for the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Africa program for seven years. Additionally, Christian served as a Visiting Professor of African Studies and Social Sciences at Quest University, Canada, for six years and as Executive Officer of Policy and Research at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds a first degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from St. John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico) and a graduate degree in International Development and Strategy from Georgetown University (Washington, DC). Christian is also a chartered corporate governance professional through The Chartered Governance Institute of the UK and Ireland.

Climate Change Report Coverage - Keynote (October 2023)

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