Awards and prizes for science diplomacy

Awards and prizes are an interesting way of rewarding, encouraging and raising awareness in relation to specific topics or horizontal issues.

In relation to “science diplomacy”, the AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy is the most well-known. It is awarded by The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in collaboration with affiliated organizations. It seeks to recognize an individual or a limited number of individuals working together in the scientific and engineering or foreign affairs communities who are making an outstanding contribution to furthering science diplomacy. The award is presented each year at the AAAS Annual Meeting. AAAS first established the International Scientific Cooperation Award in 1992 – in 2010 it was renamed to focus on Science Diplomacy and in 2021 the award has been renamed for David and Betty Hamburg (more information about these champions is available on the AAAS website, but please see also S4D4C’s interview with Peggy Hamburg here). Past recipients include also a small group of scientists who made central contributions to the founding and development of the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East laboratory (SESAME), the first major international scientific centre in that region, among other notable winners. More information:

At the S4D4C final conference, Nobel laureate Peter Agre also emphasized how the prize opened doors for him internationally. You can listen to the talk here and there is another interesting one here. In general, we can say that the international network of scientists formed by the Noble Prize winners is an opportunity to open doors worldwide. The yearly award ceremony for the science-related awards, which is taking place in Stockholm, can also be perceived as a science diplomacy activity from the side of Sweden. Furthermore, find his publication about another awardee, the scientist Linus Pauling who received the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry but also the Nobel Peace Prize 1962 awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 1963 as he played a role in the Limited Test Ban Treaty) here.

Another possibility to support science diplomacy objectives with awards and prizes is allowing for recipients from all over the world, without regards to nationality, recognising their contribution to addressing global challenges and awarding them with access to further partnerships and policy actors.

An example is the German “Green Talents” award by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as an “International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development” to promote the international exchange of ideas regarding green solutions. The award, whose patron is Minister Anja Karliczek, honours 25 young researchers from around the world each year who are engaged in excellent interdisciplinary work on environmental topics. The winners are young researchers from various scientific disciplines recognised for their outstanding achievements in making our societies more sustainable, who by receiving this reward are also granted access to Germany’s leading sustainability researchers and scientists.

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Elke Dall

Posted by Elke Dall