The Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter of the Australian Academy of Science highlights important science policy discussions and events in Australia and around the globe. We report on the involvement of science in national and international policy and diplomacy, and the Academy’s contributions to these discussions.
In May this year, I began my four-year term as President of the Australian Academy of Science—the same month Australians elected a new government. The Academy has been forging relationships with new ministers as we continue to leverage science to benefit the nation through independent and authoritative scientific advice.
Since becoming President, I have travelled to India, the United States, the United Kingdom and Indonesia to meet with sister academies, academics and decision makers to discuss how we can collaborate to develop solutions to pressing global challenges. The Australian Academy of Science continues to play an active role in regional and global development, fostering diversity and friendship through science in the following ways:
During my term, the Academy will continue to strengthen these international linkages.
National investment in research and development is also imperative to tackling the challenges facing our society now and long into the future. Australia must invest in people. We must nurture and encourage the next generation of young scientists, celebrate their successes, help them blaze trails and create change.
As President of the Academy, my role is to champion the cause of science and scientific excellence. Australia has a rich history of innovation, scholarship and industrial capability, and I am proud to represent our nation on the world stage. Over the next three years, I hope to demonstrate the full potential of science and research and reinvigorate the sector, catalysing a just transition from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-driven one.
This is the last Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter for the year, and I thank you all for your engagement with the Academy in 2022 and in the future. This edition contains many exciting contributions and highlights from the last few months of the year, and I hope you enjoy reading it.
I would like to send all our readers, wherever you are in the world, happy holidays and best wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2023.
The Australian Academy of Science will host the International Science Council (ISC) Asia-Pacific regional presence for five years beginning in 2023, with the support of the Australian Government.
The Academy will work with scientific organisations across the Asia-Pacific to voice regional needs and priorities to the ISC, ensuring regional representation in the governance and strategic direction of the ISC.
ISC regional focal points are central to translating the ISC’s global vision into actions tailored to meet the unique needs of the different regions of the world. The main objectives of the regional presence will include: engaging emerging science academies into ISC membership; developing and leading scientific programs within the region to advance shared goals; and promoting knowledge sharing and scientific exchange across the region.
The STEM Women Global Network is now live. The network showcases the breadth of scientific talent across the world so that women researchers and professionals working in STEM across all countries can be easily connected and offered career-advancing opportunities. Learn more or join!
Ukrainian scientists who have fled the war with Russia or who have been unable to work due to the destruction of their workplace will receive a helping hand from their Australian counterparts. The assistance will come in the form of an A$800,000 donation from the non-profit Breakthrough Prize Foundation to the Australian Academy of Science.
Australian research is deeply enriched through international collaborations. Research collaborations beyond national borders allow the exchange of knowledge to overcome society’s biggest challenges, including creating sustainable energy, feeding the world, and improving chronic disease outcomes.
To demonstrate how longstanding scientific relationships between Australia and China are advancing science, the Academy, supported by the National Foundation for Australia–China Relations, has created a series of videos on this topic in both English and simplified Chinese.
The Academy brings together leading Australian experts to consider and advise the nation on scientific issues, providing authoritative information and advice on current science, technology and emerging research to inform discussion and assist evidence-informed policy development and decision-making.
With the STEM sector, the Academy is discussing a model for an oversight body to investigate allegations of serious research misconduct in Australia. The proposed model—Research Integrity Australia—is intended to cover all research organisations that receive public money for research and involves a dedicated body that will work with research organisations to investigate and report on instances of research misconduct.
Academy Policy Secretary Professor Ian Chubb recently met with the NHMRC Australian Research Integrity Committee to discuss the Academy’s proposed model and spoke at the Australian Association of Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) national conference in November.
At Science at the Shine Dome in November, the Academy inaugurated the David Vaux Research Integrity Fellowship Award, to recognise individuals who have led efforts to foster and promote integrity in science. The first recipient was Professor David Vaux, a long-time champion of research integrity in Australian science.
The Academy hosted a roundtable on novel negative emissions, also known as greenhouse gas removal, in September 2022.
The event was chaired by Academy President Professor Chennupati Jagadish, with participants including experts in greenhouse gas removal, storage and use; climate and environmental science; climate policy; and governance and innovation policy.
A statement released shortly after the roundtable provides an overview of the discussion. A full report on the roundtable will be released in early 2023.
How do laws around drugs impact your access to health care? Would alcohol be scheduled differently if discovered today, given what we know of its dangers? Should the law discriminate based on the risk a drug poses to its users versus bystanders?
If those on the frontlines of medical research and regulation say the war on drugs has been ‘comprehensively lost’, would legalising every drug make the world a safer place?
The Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Law held a symposium on this topic in October. The event brought together criminal law, pharmacology and social research experts to debate if legal frameworks are evidence-informed, whether the law is coherent regarding different chemical substances, and what a legal overhaul might mean for mental health research.
The Academy was commissioned by the Australian Government's Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water to provide an independent review of four Australian carbon credits unit-generating methods for the independent review panel members.
The report provides a review of carbon abatement approaches via avoided deforestation, human-induced regeneration, landfill gas management and carbon capture and storage. It seeks to describe the underlying scientific evidence base of each method, and identify strengths and limitations of each method’s use in an offsets scheme.
Future Earth Australia published its National Strategy for Just Adaptation in September. The strategy seeks to disrupt current climate adaptation thinking and foster recognition, inclusion and capacity building for all peoples and nature. It has been compiled from over two years of collaboration and research, including more than 35 authors from diverse backgrounds and 13 university, government and private partners.
On 31 October, the Academy supported the communiqué released in September by the S20, the science academies of the G20.
The communiqué recommends G20 governments tackle challenges in key priority areas, including building resilient health systems, and bolstering multi-disciplinary science and technology for pandemic preparedness and climate change.
On 25 October, the Australian Academy of Science welcomed the release of the Australian Government’s 2022–23 budget, which included the investment for the Academy to lead the new regional presence coordinating scientific engagement in the Asia-Pacific, as well as several other significant investments that rely on science to advance Australian economic and social prosperity.
On 23 September, the Academy welcomed the STEM Equity Monitor report. The results of the report reinforce the need for stronger action to remove barriers preventing gender equity and greater diversity in STEM.
On 24 October, the Academy welcomed the introduction of measures to address systemic disadvantage faced by female and non-binary senior researchers via the Investigator Grant scheme of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Academy Fellow Professor Trevor McDougall has been awarded the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his outstanding contributions to the study of the world’s oceans and their role in regulating Earth’s climate.
Kim Carr was recognised by the Australian Academy of Science in October for advancing the cause of science and technology in Australia. He becomes only the second former politician to receive the Academy Medal in its 32-year history.
Dr Salvatore Aricò is to be appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the International Science Council.
The International Science Council has been invited to lead the scientific review of the embargoed first draft of the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report.
In November, the chairs of the Academy’s 22 National Committees for Science met to discuss challenges facing Australian science and scientists. Diversity, career prospects, outreach, science policy and diplomacy were all discussed.
The National Committees for Science represent the disciplinary composition of Australian science. The committees foster the community of a designated branch or theme of natural science in Australia, provide advice on domestic policy and link Australian and overseas scientists in the same field.
2022 saw the return of Science at the Shine Dome to its home! Over the three-day event, Australia’s most influential scientists gathered at the Shine Dome in Canberra to celebrate and honour outstanding achievements in science.
The Global Young Academy has published Back-to-Basics: researchers’ perception on the global state of funding for fundamental research. The report delivers the outcomes of a survey of researchers from around the world on the state of our research system, specifically around funding for fundamental, use-inspired and applied science.
The three Australian winners of Falling Walls Lab Australia represented the country in the hybrid Falling Walls Conference 2022, alongside the other 97 global winners.
On 1 December, the European Commission launched a global public consultation on the past, present and future of the EU’s Horizon research and innovation programmes 2014–2027. Over 12 weeks, participants can share their views on the performance of Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, as well as shape the strategic orientations for the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2025–2027. The consultation phase is open until 23 February 2023 and covers:
The Australian Academy of Science, in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources hosted two webinars highlighting Australian and Japanese innovation, research and technologies, featuring scientists from both nations.
Watch the recording of the second event:
The Academy occasionally partners with Australian Government departments and other science and research organisations to produce independent research reports and science advice, and facilitate international science linkages on their behalf.
If you are interested in working with the Academy please contact us.
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