AAAS, 10h00 – 11h30, Friday 15th February 2019, Washington DC, USA.

Session Summary:

This session spotlights what is happening right now in Europe, Japan and South Africa towards building and sustaining national, regional and global ties as the bedrock of science. While managing the world’s largest public R&I funds, speakers share a mandate to place discovery at the core of international politics. Their success is measured on creating the necessary knowledge, jobs and wealth to keep tax-payers happy, while supporting a trade climate favouring developing and least developed countries.

Finding this balance is not always easy. A rose-tinted view advocates for an inter-connected world with shared-access to the benefits of science as a human right. Yet, a reality-check highlights that protecting difference and promoting winner-takes-all competition is equally important for progress to happen in the first place. Neither is a one-size-fits-all approach always the best option. Speakers will thus reinforce and debunk some widely held beliefs that cooperation + good shared science always = win-win partnerships. An important focus will be on Africa’s determination to not only harness S&T for the continent’s development, but to become a full and active partner in global knowledge partnerships. Similarly, progress towards a European Innovation Union with all the dynamic international links it implies, will be assessed. Finally, the stop-start dynamics of the Asia cooperation dialogue with the latest perspectives on how a truly Asian Union might be achieved, will be given.

Relevance to Theme or Special Relevance to the Audience:

Conceived as a best fit for a AAAS DC Annual Meeting, this session is unquestionably both accessible and appealing to policy and international-relations-orientated delegates coming from all countries. It tackles head-on the 2019 theme of 'science transcending borders' with a focus on meeting global challenges through discovery and innovation via rarely discussed case-studies and personal insights from the heart of governments and sitting decision-makers. To counter-act the mushrooming of overly philosophical and 'fairy tale' science diplomacy panels now all too frequent worldwide, it examines the true matrix of international science diplomacy interactions and the arm-wrestle around 'right thing to do' decision-making. What unites the panel in a time of regionalisation and trade fragmentation is arguing for a reset on how world economies can continue to enhance human welfare across our common society.

Session Type:

90 Minute Discussion Format

  • Global Perspectives & Issues
  • International Development
  • Public Policy

Disciplinary Sections Consulted?


Anything to disclose?


Diversity Statement:

This high-profile panel is purposely conceived to tackle top-down & grassroots issues impacting the global scientific enterprise. It includes representation of women, international scientists and underrepresented minorities, also voices from the developing world plus Christian & Muslim perspectives. A maximum of 5 panelists (3 female, 2 male) from 5 countries (Japan, Jordan, Portugal, South Africa & Switzerland) and 4 continents (Asia, Europe, Middle-East & Africa) bring diversity of experience and value-added in terms of State power perceptions, cultures and traditions.

  • Economic development
  • Inequality
  • International S&T
  • Research funding and infrastructure and technology transfer

Irish Flag
Co-organizer & Moderator

Aidan Gilligan, Ireland (confirmed):
CEO, SciCom - Making Sense of Science, 121 Rue Franklin, Brussels, Belgium.
Phone Number: +32 474 042 602 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
South African Flag

Daan du Toit, South Africa (confirmed):
Deputy Director-General: International Cooperation and Resources, Department of Science and Technology, Government of South Africa.
Phone Number: +27 12 843 6323 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Swiss Flag Moderator:
Dr Flavia Schlegel, Switzerland (confirmed):
Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 7 Place de Fontenoy, Paris, France.
Phone Number: +33 1 45 684 078 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Presentation Title: A United Europe of Innovation States: Can it be done?

US Flag Speaker 1:
Prof. Michael Matlosz, French-American (confirmed):
President, Euroscience, 1 Quai Lezay-Marnesia, F-67000 Strasbourg, France.
Phone Number: +33 3 88 24 11 50 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Talk Description:

My presentation will spotlight how the European Commission, Parliament and Council, together with a broad array of supporting agencies, are overhauling the EU's research structures, while completing the European Research Area and realizing the ambitious Europe 2020 Strategy. On the eve of Brexit, I will also examine the role of the EU science establishment from the grassroots up in fighting to retain and increase the largest R&I budget in the world. This talk offers timely insights into flagship European initiatives from the digital agenda and industrial policy to the strategy on innovation, jobs and employment. Key to this success are plans to grow and capitalize on the innovation capacity and capability of actors from higher education, research, business and entrepreneurship from the EU and beyond. My talk will analyze these efforts and their strong international dimension.

Presentation Title: Scientific Cooperation In And With Africa: Room For Growing Optimism?

South African Flag Speaker 2:
H.E. Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, South Africa (confirmed):
Minister for Science & Technology of the Government of South Africa & Co-President of the World Science Forum 2021 Cape Town. DST Building, Meiring Naudé Road, Brummeria, Pretoria, South Africa.
Phone Number: +27 12 843 6323 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Talk Description:

As the newly appointed Minister for Science and Technology, my address will highlight how South Africa’s determination to become one of the world’s most competitive knowledge-based economies is gathering speed. The roll-out of our Ten-Year Innovation Plan, for example, provides a unique blueprint for scientific cooperation at three strategic levels. It aims to transcend borders not only inside South Africa but with the Africa-55 States and the wider world. Updates I will give span focus areas from space science and astronomy to better understanding the human and social dynamics of societies in transition.

Furthermore, membership of the BRICS, the appointment of a South African as Head of the African Union and the high-profile award of the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope are all indicative of South Africa and Africa’s ambition to contribute to global scientific enterprise. Yet, this equal-partner role often risks being overlooked. My talk will underscore pan-African efforts to address grand challenges such as climate change, energy security and the fight against disease with a widening array of Asian, European and both Northern & Latin American partners.

Above all, I will demonstrate how South Africa is actively pursuing these objectives through a range of dynamic international partnerships. My message from Africa is clear: science is not a reward but an instrument for development and South Africa and Africa are determined to harness its full potential.

Presentation Title: Asian Union: A Crucial Or Postponed Moment For Scientific Cooperation?

Japanese Flag Speaker 3:
Dr Michinari Hamaguchi, Japanese (confirmed):
President, Japan Science & Technology Agency (JST), Kawaguchi Center Building 4-1-8, Honcho, Kawaguchi-shi, Saitama, Tokyo, Japan.
Phone Number: +81 48 226 5601 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Talk Description:

The Japanese administration has increased science and technology investment and elevated science in policy-making. Moreover, international cooperation in science and technology has gained renewed prominence as a tool for bettering relations with the world as well as addressing the most urgent global challenges.

My presentation will examine whether the development of an Asian scientific enterprise is within reach and assess the obstacles that have yet to be confronted both regionally and internationally. For example, how should we incorporate rising scientific communities such as China and Africa into the currently Western-oriented scientific structure? How can we cooperate while competing for scarce international resources, evidenced by the newfound scramble for Africa? How can we address explosive tensions between scientific information and societal and political directions?

All governments and regions face new challenges in terms of how science is viewed and used. Attitudes and perceptions about science, ranging from issues at the nexus of religion and politics, and competitiveness and immigration, may sometimes seem irreconcilable with science-based progress.

This talk will offer educated guesses from Japan's own experience about how we might share discovery and innovation and protect difference and competition, while sharing the fruits of progress and keeping the general public on-board.