Organised by Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, UN Secretary General’s Ban-Ki Moon’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis & Malaria. Co-organised by: Aidan Gilligan, Founder, CEO SciCom - Making Sense of Science; Member of the Governing Board of Euroscience.

Global perspectives and issues - AAAS 2015
Saturday, 14 February 2015: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 210G (San Jose Convention Center)

Session Description

Science-based issues are crucial to the conduct of foreign policy. Countries large and small, developed and developing, express a clear interest in implementing science diplomacy through politics. This is for the purpose of representation, cooperation, resolving disputes, improving systems, and securing the right to science for citizens and our most vulnerable populations. The same applies to global companies and institutions operating in a complex matrix of technical and relational challenges. This symposium will test this theory against the successes and failures of health diplomacy strategies around two challenging issues: global responses to obesity and harm reduction science linked to lifestyle.

Elected officials and senior doctors with first-hand insights into real-life best practices and pitfalls encountered in public service will spotlight how new disciplines and voices are being integrated into decision-making. Accepting that societal problems are not necessarily problems with purely scientific solutions, speakers will argue that meeting global challenges demands not only scientific discovery and more data, but greater inclusiveness and dialogue. Their common cause will be to demonstrate that if we accept the potential of science diplomacy as a common currency capable of underpinning today’s multi-stakeholder interactions, we must equally leverage control at the highest levels to remove political barriers that prevent affected populations from accessing services.

Session Format: Traditional lecture but highly interactive
Session Duration: 90-Minute Symposia
Target Audience: Scientists, General Public, Policy-Makers
Category: Global perspectives and issues, Health & Pharmaceutical Science, Communications and Public Programmes
Sections: Medical Sciences; Social, Economic & Political sciences
Keywords: Disease Prevention, Disease Treatment, International S&T, International Development; and Public Health

Relevance to the Theme or Special Relevance to the Audience:

This session will appeal to all delegates, especially the policy and health interested. It tackles head-on the 2015 theme of meeting global challenges through discovery and innovation fostered by conclusive data.  It examines the matrix of science diplomacy interactions around decision-making that allows for innovation in sustainable policies, products and processes. It aims to signpost how world economies can continue to enhance human welfare across society.

Diversity Statement:

This symposium is highly diverse in terms of panelists' political, medical and scientific backgrounds, the representation of senior female leaders in science and the involvement of six different nationalities from three continents.


Irish Flag Organiser: Aidan Gilligan (IRL),
Founder, CEO SciCom - Making Sense of Science, Member of the Governing Board of Euroscience. 121 Rue Franklin, 1000, Brussels, Belgium. Phone Number: +32 474042602; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
US Flag Moderator: Dr. Vaughan Turekian (US),
Chief International Officer and Director, Center for Science Diplomacy, 1200 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC, DC 20005. Phone Number: +1 202-326-6650; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
South African Flag Discussant: Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor (SA),
South African Minister for Science and Technology, Care Of: Deputy-Director General International Cooperation & Resources, Daan du Toit, (South African Department of Science and Technology). 
Phone Number: +2712 843 6344; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
German Flag Discussant: Dr. Thomas Hartung,
Professor and Chair for Evidence-based Toxicology, Director, Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing; Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences. 615 N. Wolfe Street, W7032, Baltimore, MD 21205. Phone Number: 410-614-4990; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Presentation Title: Building an International Science Diplomacy System

US Flag Speaker 1:
Dr. Frances A. Colon (US),
Deputy Science & Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State; 2201 C St. NW Suite 3248, Washington, DC 20520. Phone Number: +1 202-647-8694; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Talk Description:

Traditionally, states have been the principal actors exercising the practice of diplomacy as a means of managing their international relationships. The emergence of new global challenges from cross-border energy supply, preventable diseases linked to lifestyle, shifting geo-political environments, and the linkages between health and ageing, trade, intellectual property, and human rights, present stakeholders with a complex matrix of technical and relational challenges. Due to the impact of globalisation on science, however, a new type of diplomacy and dialogue is necessary to navigate the changing landscape of international affairs and politics. As economic progress in every community worldwide has become interdependent with advances in science and technology, science diplomacy is increasingly the chosen method of interaction between stakeholders. At the same time, it is imperative that we work in ways that are transparent and open to a diversity of contributors and ideas. Assessing risk versus benefit in adopting an innovation is complex and depends upon an open dialogue. Only then will we realise the promise of furthering scientific discovery and innovation to meet pressing global challenges and improve quality of life.

Presentation Title: Health Diplomacy, Science Diplomacy – Championing Dialogue & Evidence to Tackle Alcohol & Tobacco Addictions

South African Flag Speaker 2:
Dr. Delon Human (SA),
President & CEO, Health Diplomats, Secretary-General of the African Medical Association; Former Secretary-General of the World Medical Association; 8 Place de la Tour, CH-1270 Trelex, Switzerland. Phone Number: +41 22 369 90 12; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Talk Description:

Science is a fundamental pillar of knowledge-based societies. When communicated well, it provides the glue for diverse stakeholders active in global health policy development to be allowed engage each other and chip-away at seemingly insurmountable barriers. For better or for worse, policy decisions in e.g. pharmaceutical, tobacco and food regulation can be dogma or campaign-driven, and often lack a robust enough scientific base. This invariably leads to politically-driven rather than evidence-based policy. My talk will show how policy-makers are changing and becoming more receptive to scientific advice, even when this advice is uncomfortable. By widely sharing our biomedical discoveries, cultivating research talent and human resources in developing countries, and negotiating treaties and other international agreements that save lives and improve health, we are more effectively providing leadership through science which, in turn, is fostering more constructive relations between countries. Nevertheless, the challenge remains for science to deliver more from our public investment and to more readily include the social sciences to improve understanding of how the public may react or adapt to lifestyle challenges. Only then can we ensure the highest possible standards of health, wealth and stability of the world.

Presentation Title: Health Diplomacy, Science Diplomacy – Human Values & Obesity

Irish Flag Speaker 3:
Sir Peter Gluckman (NZ),
Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, PO Box 108-117, Symonds Street, Auckland 1150, New Zealand. Phone Number: +64 9 923 9270; Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Talk Description:

Generally science focuses on producing new knowledge while diplomacy is concerned with the shaping the environment to enable that knowledge to be produced and used. Health diplomacy intensifies this relationship because of its focus on the human condition. I draw on experience as co-Chair of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity to illustrate the rather unique challenges of global health diplomacy. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in developed and many developing countries and is rising rapidly in most LMICs. The tension is intensified further when the slate of stakeholders includes everything from multi-national corporations to children in low socio-economic circumstances and across nations of very different development status. In the case of obesity, the matter is then intensified by issues of food security and the role of the private sector. Resolving these issues is compounded by issues that extend well beyond health to political, economic, social and ideological considerations and advocacy often becomes conflated with the evidential base. A broad multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary approach is needed if effective solutions are to be reached.