Announcing a New Blueprint for Global Ethics & Principles of Science & Society Informed Policy-Making

EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), Leiden, The Netherlands 13 – 16 July, 2022
14h00 – 15h15, Thursday 14 July, 2022: Lorentz Stage – Leiden.


This important ESOF2022 session unveils the World Science Forum 2022 Cape Town Programme for the first time. Organised by WSF Steering Committee Members under the auspices of the government of South Africa, it also includes as a speaker Prof. David Budtz Pedersen to give an update on the Cape Town Declaration on Science for Social Justice process on behalf of an independent, grass roots collective.

The Cape Town Declaration on Science for Social Justice (CTD) is a decadal-long initiative (2012 – 2022), to codify a unique blueprint for a new set of ethics and principles to inform work at the boundary between science, society and policy. This bridges the February 2017 launch of the five-year, mid-term Brussels Declaration on Ethics & Principles for Science & Society Policy-Making at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Annual Meeting (AAAS), to the final stages of ongoing work towards its pan-African inspired equivalent.

The Brussels Declaration was launched and debated at AAAS by the initiative’s Co-Chairs, namely, Prof. Michel Kazatchkine, United Nations, Secretary General, Ban-ki Moon’s Health Envoy and Dr Wilson Compton, Deputy-Director, NIH-National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), They were joined by the Declaration’s Rapporteur, Katherine O’Hara, former President of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) and two invited discussants, namely, Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s then Minister for Science (currently, Minister for Foreign Affairs), and Sir Peter Gluckman, then New Zealand’s Science Adviser and President of the International Network for Government Science Advice (currently, President of the International Science Council).

Following a kick-off conference in Cape Town in June 2017, an annual up-date event has been held at each Science Forum South Africa (SFSA). Professor Pedersen will briefly outline this record and the steps now being taken towards a successful conclusion. He will also announce the collective’s planned legacy projects such as the creation of a new globally relevant but Africa-based, Science for Social Justice Journal, and the establishment of Social Justice Chairs worldwide, akin to the EU’s Jean Monnet process.

The strength of the Cape Town Declaration’s recommendations will lie in their ten-year reflection period, the robustness of preparatory workshops and especially the diversity of contributors. This initiative involves bridging the grassroots of society with politicians, science advisers, chief scientific officers from industry, civil society leaders, medical doctors, social scientists, academics and science editors. What makes this body of work unique is that it stands alone, anchored by the real-life experiences of ‘bottom-up’ stakeholders from science and society, not only ‘top-down’ elites.

As a preview to some of the issues being discussed before the final text is presented for comment to a meeting of pan-African Academies on the day of the official opening of the World Science Forum 2022, Prof. Pedersen’s short intervention will boost understanding of how power operates in science and explain why evidence plus dialogue rarely equals good decisions and laws.

Above all, he will explain why the Cape Town Declaration represents a new and more accessible playbook to better address the practice, ethics and liability issues surrounding ‘evidence-based policy-making versus policy-biased evidence-making’. He will argue that much still needs to be done to challenge the way societies view policymaking, policymakers and those who interact with them.>

With an eye on the ‘global south’, Prof. Pedersen will demonstrate how these recommendations will improve the ways in which the practice of scientific research, the inputting of evidence to inform policy, and the ‘taking’ of advice by elected officials is structured and delivered to promote greater integrity and accountability. This includes ethical approaches defending basic human dignity, greater stakeholder inclusion and overcoming gross access of influence inequalities, compassion for people and resolving their day-to-day problems.

At a time when Covid-19 and vaccine nationalism has brought to the fore the complex contradictions between evidence and ideology, the Cape Town Declaration stands to have a considerable impact on our post-pandemic politics.

ESOF2022 represents a major global platform bringing together many of the key actors involved in the ten-year CTD process. All involved aim to promote greater public discourse, scientific clarity, policy implementation and ethical balance not only through greater transparency and scrutiny, but by genuine inclusivity.

Follow the discussion live by registering at: EuroScience Open Forum | July 13-16 2022 (

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