The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in collaboration with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA) and the Global Network of Science and Technology Advisors in Foreign Ministries, organized a high-level international dialogue on science diplomacy.
In February 2016, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences hosted a meeting that was convened by the Science and Technology Advisers to the Foreign Ministers from Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. During this meeting the importance of increasing the capacity and capability of Foreign Ministries to address the ever increasing number of issues at the interface of science, technology, and innovation was raised as a key area.
These issues included global challenges such as climate change, but also international trade, development cooperation, the governance of international spaces, as well as crisis management e.g. in the case of pandemics. In particular, the fulfillment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and their ambitious time horizon and how it will require a faster take-up of scientific and technological knowledge in foreign policies, while harnessing the potential of science as a “soft power” in diplomacy. Hosted at IIASA, the event will build on this meeting to create an international dialogue on integrating science and technology advice into Foreign Ministries.
Approximately 30 senior foreign policy experts from around the planet attended, with the dialogue being made up of a mix of presentations, discussions, and training based on case-study exercises, given or moderated by some of the best scholars and practitioners in the field.
The opening session of the event took place on 18 October, with introductions from Professor Dr. Pavel Kabat (IIASA Director General and CEO) and Paul Berkman (Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy, The Fletcher School Tufts University). This was followed by a short video message from H.E. Sebastian Kurz (Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Austria).
Other keynote speakers and panelists included:
William E. Colglazier (Visiting Scientist, AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy and Former Scientific Advisor to the Secretary of State and IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow, USA)
Peter Gluckman (Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister,Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand)
Robin Grimes (Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom)
Rafael M. Grossi (Ambassador of Argentina in Austria and Former Assistant Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA))
Teruo Kishi (Science and Technology Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan)
Vaughan Turekian (Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, USA)
The objective of the dialogue was to create opportunities for delivering on national foreign policy priorities by increasing the input of science and technology into policy development and policy implementation in the area of external relations, thus helping officials of Foreign Ministries and diplomats in Embassies to fulfill their tasks.
Highlighted areas where science and technology are impacting the work of Foreign Ministries
Shared experiences and best practices in providing scientific advice to Ministers of Foreign Relations;
Flagged practical issues, such as how to engage with science and get access to the best expertise;
Developed a global network of practitioners.
Each participant had the unique opportunity to be at the very beginning of this global dialogue on science advice to foreign policies, which will hopefully be joined by more and more nations as time progresses.