The University of Cape Town’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative (PII) has its origins in UCT’s long tradition of research, teaching and social responsiveness, linked to the goals of political, economic and social transformation in South Africa. In keeping with the mission of the university, the PII is a multi-disciplinary strategic initiative aimed at increasing the institution’s collective contribution to tackling major development challenges facing South Africa.
Following a meeting in April 2011 with Minister Trevor Manuel of the National Planning Commission, Emeritus Professor Francis Wilson was appointed Acting Pro Vice-chancellor for the PII, tasked with organising a national conference to launch a national inquiry on effective strategies to overcome poverty and inequality and prioritise areas needing further research. In September 2012, UCT hosted ‘Towards Carnegie3’ conference, attended by over 500 researchers, government officials and representatives from civil society to share information and models for urgent action on key themes – the role of law, unemployment and job creation, the land, urban and environmental challenges, education, health, government policy and community mobilisation. The PII continues to play a leading role in developing this national initiative.