A fully packed room was welcomed by Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) and Maria-Cristina Russo, Director at the Directorate for International Cooperation at R&I Days’ session “Communicating Europe through Science Diplomacy” on 24th September 2019 in the afternoon. They highlighted that science diplomacy was championed by Commissioner Carlos Moedas and the incoming “geopolitical Commission” will certainly continue on the path positioning Europe as a global player, addressing global challenges and supporting a dialogue for a fair and just society – fed also by science and active science diplomacy.
“Science for Peace” was highlighted in the messages of Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint Hassan of Jordan who is also UNESCO Special Envoy on the topic. She referred to shared aspects of human nature such as creativity, resilience, compassion, observation, analysis, innovation and how achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs input from researchers. Furthermore, she highlighted projects linking regions and people, such as SESAME, the synchrotron research infrastructure in Jordan which would not have been possible without European support.
Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council (ERC) highlighted the many facets that are supported by the ERC and, as chair, moderated the discussion between the panellists:
- Christopher Fall, Director for Science, US Department of Energy
- Paul Rübig, former Member of the European Parliament
- Marga Gual Soler, Senior Science Diplomacy Advisor, Member of the Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts Group (RISE) to European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas
The European Commission was complimented for opening up and having clearly demonstrated the value of inclusiveness in the discussion. Scientists are collaborating around the world, yet it is fair to ask if we should always collaborate and more transactional reasons can be highlighted. On the other hand, we shall further spread the basic values how science is done and how the benefits are distributed, shaping the global scientific culture. The importance of dialogue was stressed by Mr Rübig who referred to it as a “silo and pipe strategy”: connecting the siloes, and educate and empower those that can build the bridges (act as the pipes between the silos).
Marga Gual Soler, advisor to the science diplomacy cluster projects InsSciDE and S4D4C, also mentioned the S4D4C Madrid Declaration and invited the audience to join in and sign it. Starting from her own experience living abroad, she highlighted the importance of European narratives and, most importantly, called for Horizon Europe, the upcoming EU framework programme funding Research and Innovation, to be a beacon of openness and global collaboration to strengthen the influence and positive impact of the EU in an increasingly multipolar and uncertain world. She called for the EU scientific endeavors to be aligned with external policies and to support creating mutual understanding between societies. Cooperation is necessary to have a greater impact and address the global challenges that concern us all – and in particular the youth. The discussion also highlighted the tensions between cooperation and competition, between “wanting to move things” and “wanting to control things” and the disruption of diplomacy itself.