20 October 2016

Science and technology advice is a vital element for foreign ministries

As the world becomes increasingly globalized and interconnected, the need is greater than ever for science to become a more important component of diplomacy and foreign relations.

© Scusi | Dreamstime.com

© Scusi | Dreamstime.com

Science can play a vital role in furthering a country’s objectives on the international stage, said speakers yesterday at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The meeting, co-organized by IIASA, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and the International Network of Government Science Advice, brought together diplomats and scientists from 21 nations for the first international dialogue on science and technology advice to foreign ministries. 

Speakers including the science and technology advisers to foreign ministers for five countries (see photo), Director General and CEO of IIASA Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat, and Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy Paul Berkman of the Fletcher School showed multiple examples of how a country’s objectives can be furthered through diplomats and scientists working together, for example: 

  • Science advancing global interests such as identifying pathways for countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Science advancing national interests including trade, security, technical advice in a crisis, and evidence-based policy making;
  • International science collaborations as confidence-building measures between countries with poor diplomatic relations;
  • Science helping diplomats keep abreast of new possibilities that technical and scientific advances can provide for resolving international challenges; and
  • Science as a means for countries to build long-term relations with its diaspora.  

 During the meeting participants shared experiences and best practices in providing scientific advice to ministers from strategic, structural, and tactical perspectives; as well as identifying practical issues, such as how best to engage with scientific institutions, facilitate scientific advice in embassies, and equip diplomats with scientific skills and knowledge. Next steps include the development of a one-week course for science diplomacy in relation to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.   

The meeting was also a further step in the development of a Global Network of Science and Technology Advisers in Foreign Ministries, which aims to increase the input of science and technology advice to foreign policy decision-making and diplomacy. The current network of science and technology advisers to foreign ministers, which consists of the five countries that currently have this role (Japan, New Zealand, Senegal, United Kingdom and United States), met on the margins of the meeting. As more countries develop the position of science and technology advisers to foreign ministers, they will be invited to participate in future network meetings.  

The international dialogue took place from October 18-19, 2016 at IIASA in Laxenburg near Vienna, Austria, and was attended by senior diplomatic or scientific representatives from 21 different countries (Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Japan, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Poland, Russian Federation, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States).

From left to right: Professor Paul Berkman (Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and Director, Arctic Futures Initiative, IIASA); Dr. William Colglazier (Visiting Scientist, AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy and Former Scientific Adviser to the Secretary of State, USA); Professor Robin Grimes (Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom); Professor Aminata Sall Diallo (Science Adviser to the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, Ministry Of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, Senegal); Professor Sir Peter Gluckman (Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand); Dr. Vaughan Turekian (Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, USA); Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat (Director General and CEO, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)) © Matthias Silveri | IIASA

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policymakers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by prestigious research funding agencies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. 

The International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA) is a collaborative platform for policy exchange, capacity building and research across diverse global science advisory organizations and national systems. Through workshops, conferences and a growing catalogue of tools and guidance, the network aims to enhance the global science-policy interface to improve the potential for evidence-informed policy formation at both national and transnational levels 

INGSA operates under the auspices of the International Council for Science, which acts as trustee of INGSA funds and hosts its governance committee. INGSA’s secretariat is based in the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor in New Zealand 

About The Fletcher School
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (The Fletcher School)—the first exclusively graduate school of international affairs in the United States—has prepared the world’s leaders to tackle complex global challenges since 1933. The School’s alumni represent the highest levels of leadership in the world, including hundreds of sitting ambassadors, respected voices from distinguished media outlets and institutions, heads of global non-profit organizations, and executive leadership of some of the world’s largest for-profit companies. The Fletcher School offers a collaborative, flexible and interdisciplinary approach to the study of international affairs, featuring a distinguished faculty and diverse student body representing more than half the world’s countries.

 The Fletcher School awards professional degrees, including a two-year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD); a one-year Master of Arts for mid-career professionals; a one-year, mid-career combined Internet-mediated/residential Global Master of Arts (GMAP); a Ph.D. program; a Master of Arts in International Business (MIB); and a Master of Laws in International Law (LL.M.)—as well as joint degrees, summer school and certificate programs.

More photos:

16.10 International Dialogue on Integrating Science and Technology Advice into Foreign Ministries

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Last edited: 20 October 2016

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313