Angela and Stella, you are chairing the EU Science Diplomacy Alliance from July to December 2021. How did you experience this period? What are you proud of?
Angela: These six months went by so fast, we truly enjoyed embarking on this exciting journey with so many motivated members and new SD enthusiasts. We are especially proud of the very positive reception that the Alliance received, and the many opportunities to jump into action.
Still being in a discovery and setting up phase, our guiding theme during our chairwomanship was “Anchoring the Alliance”. To ensure a solid uptake of the different aspects and subthemes of science diplomacy, we kicked-off eight working groups, focusing on such diverse issues as Training and Capacity Building, the Alliance’s response to the EU Global Approach to Research and Innovation and, starting early next year, EU Missions and Policies. The Working Groups are geared to hone the Alliance’s expertise and ensure that it can engage when necessary in a timely and agile manner.
Stella: One of our key priorities was raising awareness: we presented the Alliance in different international fora and conferences, e.g. a video message at INSGA, a dedicated Workshop at the Science Summit of the United Nations General Assembly 76, and a presentation at the European Research & Innovation Days ASEAN 2021.
“Science Diplomacy in practice every day!” was the title of the Science Diplomacy trainings that we organised with other members for around 50 participants from COST Actions. This was a highlight and best practice for collaboration amongst the members of the Alliance.
On the policy level, we were delighted to contribute to the discussions around the Global Approach to Research and Innovation, Europe’s new strategy for international cooperation. We provided advice to the European Economic and Social Committee and helped to formulate recommendations for an EU Science Diplomacy Agenda.
DLR has recently organised the “Brussels: FutureTalks”. What are the key results?
Angela: Indeed, this was our flagship event in November and a new format developed by our Brussels Office. Over 100 participants from all over the world joined in, when the young experts in science diplomacy discussed with senior experts their hopes, concerns and recommendations. We would like to share one of these concerns and one recommendation with you:
“Messages from scientists are often “lost” in translation into policy, resulting in too little and/or too late happening in terms of action.”
And a frequently repeated recommendation: “We need improved coordination among actors, both junior and senior…that are involved in science and policy…”
What is your vision for the Alliance and European Union science diplomacy?
Stella: We want the Alliance to be a vibrant and learning network, providing space for unconventional cooperation and forward-looking ideas, that contributes to a better understanding of and cooperation between both worlds: science and diplomacy. We hope that one day, a child can say “I want to become a Science Diplomat” and everyone will understand what he or she is taking about.
What do you recommend to young science diplomats?
Stella: Wherever you are, you are the next, the new generation of political leaders, amazing scientists or diplomats. We need you to raise your voice now in the discussions around a better science diplomacy practice. Join the discussions on social media, let’s network and build the community of science diplomats together!
And for you, what will be the next steps in the community?
Angela: Although we chaired the Alliance from our (virtual) Brussels office, it was a truly team effort: Our experts Maria Josten, Nadia Meyer and Andreas Müller in Bonn always stood by our side. Together, we will also continue our engagement in the group of the Alliance TRIO chairs, will actively contribute to many follow-up activities and the working groups and are looking forward to jointly discovering new places, activities on the science diplomacy agenda – also with some new members that joined during the recent General Assembly meeting.
We will start the new year with the upcoming chairmanship of CNRS and wish the team of Pascal Griset and Claire Mays all the best.
Stella and Angela: – we wish everyone happy holidays and a wonderful and safe 2022 with exciting learnings around science diplomacy.