Our associated partner, AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy, published a call for a special issue of its journal “Science and Diplomacy” entitled “Future-Casting Science Diplomacy: Twelve months of COVID-19: Shaping the next era of science diplomacy”. Guest associated editors are our colleague Marga Gual Soler, Mandë Holford, and Tolu Oni. The call is already closed, deadline was October 11, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the first truly global crisis in modern history, affecting virtually every person on the planet at the same time. The crisis is forcing us to rethink, re-imagine, and re-construct how we live, communicate, and work. A crucial task before us in the post-COVID world is to examine the connections between science, policy, and society, as well as our relationship with nature. The pandemic has shown that science is a global public good, but our current international science-policy interface structures and institutions are inadequate to address the challenges facing human and planetary health. The pandemic has exacerbated profound geopolitical shifts, created new tensions, and catapulted science and health diplomacy to the front pages. Unprecedented international scientific collaboration is central to understanding and mitigating the spread of COVID-19. But fragmented governmental responses in many countries have revealed “catastrophic failures of the science-policy interface.” What lessons can we learn and take forward about how to effectively incorporate scientific advice in national and international policy decision-making for future transboundary crises? How and where have scientists been effectively engaged in national and international policy structures? How do we train and deploy the next generation of science diplomats to anticipate and better manage future crises?
While COVID-19 discoveries are currently the top priority of the global scientific enterprise, issues pertaining to nature (climate, land-use, oceans), energy, and noninfectious diseases also persist. Building science diplomacy systems and structures that can prevent or effectively respond to the next global crisis requires broad-based creative coalitions between the global scientific community, governmental and intergovernmental institutions, industry and philanthropy.
We are inviting scientists, diplomats, policymakers, NGOs, industry leaders, students and scholars from all countries and sectors to contribute to a year-end special issue of Science & Diplomacy to envision the future of science diplomacy in the immediate and post-COVID world. We particularly welcome and encourage contributions from next generation and early-mid career scientists, diplomats, policymakers, NGOs, industry leaders, students and scholars. Beyond the rapid reactions and real-time analysis during the acute phase of the emergency, we seek contributions that critically consider medium to long term perspectives that advance science diplomacy. What types of grass roots and top-down initiatives can enable fundamental shifts at scale? How do we ensure global public goods (science, health, the environment) shape foreign policy agendas? Can science diplomacy help address the challenges of misinformation during a global crisis in an era of near universal social media use? Do we have the adequate multilateral structures to propel changes, or do we need something new?
Finally, as we enter the decade countdown to 2030 and consider that science diplomacy can have an oversized effect in achieving the 2030 UN sustainable development goals, how can the next generation of science diplomats advance lessons learned from COVID-19, the need for human and planetary health, and calls for racial justice to re-build with a foundation of diversity, equity and inclusiveness?