Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter—Issue 7 October 2021

Science Policy and Diplomacy special edition August 2021

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.

This issue features the work of the Academy’s National Committees for Science in representing Australian science, overviews current topics and news in the science policy and diplomacy arena and showcases the Academy’s science policy work. The Community Showcase features a science diplomacy project that enhances access to gene editing technologies for farmers and exporters.

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National Committees for Science: Representing science in Australia

The Academy’s National Committees for Science represent the varied work of the Academy in supporting science in Australia and beyond. Their work operates at the nexus of science policy and diplomacy, offering expertise to current political discussions and supporting the Australian scientific community.

The work of the Academy’s 22 discipline-focused National Committees aims to foster and highlight the work of their field in Australia and around the globe. They provide expertise to the Academy and the collective voice of Australia’s science community through a range of activities, such as the:

National Committee for Nutrition: Nourishing Australia

Nourishing Australia, the 10-year plan from the Academy’s National Committee for Nutrition, sets out a strategy for Australian nutrition science to help improve long-term health and wellbeing globally while delivering environmental, social and economic benefits for the nation.

Nutrition science expertise will inform the Australian Government’s review of dietary guidelines that coincides with emerging discussions on the innovation imperative for the agriculture industry. The Australian Government recently released the National Agricultural Innovation Agenda, resolving to modernise the sector to meet the nutrition requirements of future populations and ensure sustainability.

The National Committee for Nutrition works to implement Nourishing Australia’s recommendations that span four key pillars: social determinants, nutrition mechanisms, precision and personalised nutrition and education and training. Successful implementation is expected to result in health, wellbeing and economic benefits.

In 2021, the committee hosted a nutrition science-themed art competition for Australian school students, scienceXart: Food for Thought, to encourage the next generation of nutrition scientists. It continues to engage with professional Australian nutrition organisations and early-to-mid career nutrition experts in implementing the decadal plan.


Policy and diplomacy news

Impact of COVID on women

The COVID-19 pandemic has been found to impact women disproportionately. FP Analytics released a report on the gendered effects of the pandemic and current government responses, providing recommendations for Elevating Gender Equality in COVID-19 Economic Recovery.

The Academy, with the support of the Australian Government, investigated the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The report explores the impacts on careers and individual wellbeing and identifies ways for organisations and individuals within the STEM system to support gender equity.


The announcement of an enhanced trilateral security partnership AUKUS, between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, builds on the longstanding bilateral ties between the three countries. AUKUS will deepen the integration of defence and security-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains. An article from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute overviews the potential of AUKUS to encourage greater technological collaboration, which is important as modern warfare and geopolitical competition evolves.

Angela Merkel: A legacy of science in politics

Angela Merkel has stepped down from her 30-year political career. Her background as a theoretical quantum chemist fuelled a scientific approach to politics that strengthened and internationalised German science. The Nature article ‘Politics will be poorer without Angela Merkel’s scientific approach’ explores her legacy and impact on science in Germany, where government science funding exceeds both the European Union standard of 3 per cent of GDP and Australia’s research and development expenditure.

Science funding in the United States

The US Congress is debating legislation that would dramatically increase national science funding, proposing an additional US$81 billion to the National Science Foundation in order to compete with China. The US has had the world’s highest gross domestic expenditure on R&D for decades, but its global share has slipped. From 1960 to 2019, the US share of global R&D expenditure fell from 69 to 30 per cent, and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act promises a quantum increase in spending for science. A focus on increasing science spending to gain strategic leverage over another country is not new to the science policy and diplomacy interface: it just re-introduces the question of How Good is Science?.

Science policy and analysis at the Academy

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-based policy development and decision-making.


Advancing data-intensive research in Australia

The Australian Academy of Science recently released Advancing data-intensive research in Australia. The report explores the opportunities and challenges associated with data-intensive research and provides recommendations to improve Australia’s research data ecosystem. It presents data practices, challenges and strategic developments and identifies future technology, infrastructure, training and collaboration priorities. Recommendations provide actions to enable Australian research to exploit opportunities and overcome challenges arising from the revolution in open and big data technologies and from developments in data science and machine learning.

Science for Australians

The Academy policy initiative, Science for Australians, illustrates the benefits of science to the public and policy makers.

Open science and scientific excellence

Open science and scientific excellence outlines the benefits of open science worth pursuing, including improving the integrity, reliability and transparency of scientific research and aiding knowledge flows to end users of research in government, society and industry. The Academy released a position statement on open science in June 2021, supporting the development of an open science strategy for Australia to address open access, open methods, open peer review and Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data.

The next pandemic

The next pandemic: antimicrobial resistance offers expert opinions on the invisible pandemic of anti-microbial resistant bacteria that poses a serious global health threat. To support the necessary urgent action to address this invisible pandemic, Australia needs to develop policies that support translation of research into products and solutions.

How does Australia pay for science?

How is science funded in Australia? delves into Australia’s research funding structure, identifying who pays for research and what can be done to improve funding models. The Academy has consistently argued that Australia needs to increase its investment in research and development to up to 3 per cent of GDP from the 2018 investment of 1.79 per cent.

National RNA Science and Technology Roundtable

A national roundtable to identify Australia's RNA science and technology priorities was held on Thursday 29 July 2021. The meeting brought together experts in RNA biology and biotechnology from academia and industry and discussed how Australia can play a leading role in the global ecosystem of RNA science, harnessing opportunities for Australian industry to develop RNA-based products and services for global markets. The group published a statement concluding that a national mission is required to ensure Australia can fulfil this leading global role, and the full proceedings are available online.

Academy Climate Change Hub

You can now find all Academy evidence briefs, reports, strategies, position statements and submissions to government related to climate change in our new Climate Change Hub: science and solutions.

Submissions, statements and publications


Draft Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan

On 29 October 2021, the Australian Academy of Science provided a submission to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment consultation on a draft Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan. Read the submission.

Higher Education Research Commercialisation IP Framework consultation

On 15 October 2021, the Academy provided a submission to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment consultation on a Higher Education Research Commercialisation IP Framework. Read the submission.

Supplementary submission- Developing Australia’s Space Industry

On 13 October 2021 the National Committee for Space and Radio Science provided a supplementary submission to the inquiry into Developing Australia’s Space Industry. Read the submission.


Economics References Committee inquiry regarding the Australian manufacturing industry

On 20 September 2021, the Academy provided a submission to the Economics References Committee inquiry regarding the Australian manufacturing industry. Read the submission.

National Environmental Prediction System Scoping Study discussion paper

On 10 September 2021, the Academy provided a submission to the 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap Taskforce on the National Environmental Prediction System Scoping Study discussion paper. Read the submission.


Patent box consultation

On 19 August 2021, the Academy provided a submission to the Treasury’s patent box consultation. Read the submission.


Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021

On 20 July 2021, the Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences provided a joint submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021. Read the submission.

Department of Education, Skills and Employment Quality Initial Teacher Education Review

On 15 July 2021, the Academy provided a submission to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. The submission comments on the department's Quality Initial Teacher Education Review discussion paper. Read the submission.

Community showcase

Science diplomacy project aims to enhance access to gene editing technologies for farmers and exporters

Muhammad Adeel
Career Diplomat, PhD Scholar
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, Pakistan
WA State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre

Researchers at the Western Australian State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre at Murdoch University are working on improving the science–policy–society interface related to regulations and commercialisation of new breeding technologies, such as gene editing for crop improvement. The project team, including Professor Michael Jones and PhD scholar Muhammad Adeel, is leveraging the university’s crop biotechnology expertise and utilising science diplomacy as a platform to reduce silos between academia and industry, and to provide training to interdisciplinary stakeholders. The project won a three-year grant from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in 2020 under the Package Assisting Small Exporters Program.

One key deliverable of the project is the Biotech Game, a negotiation simulation in which diverse audiences can role play the discussions related to the regulation of agri-biotechnology under the Cartagena Protocol. The Biotech Game focuses on educating diverse audiences on the complexities of science policy and regulations in the international arena. It has been trialled through workshops which were acknowledged by the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations as the ‘Education Initiative of the Year’ in 2019. A recent iteration of the simulation was conducted in collaboration with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, a global knowledge sharing and advocacy platform, on 26 August 2021. More than 80 interdisciplinary participants from nearly 30 countries participated in the simulation.

Other key deliverables for the project include a dedicated portal for stakeholder engagement, training workshops and rendering science advice to policy stakeholders and industry roundtables, with an overall objective to promote the harmonisation of regulatory standards related to new breeding technologies.

Coming Academy events

Science at the Shine Dome: New Fellows Presentations

3 and 4 November—Register for Day 1 and Day 2.

The long journey of human missions to Mars and back to Earth

15 November—Register for this event.

Science Pathways 2021: Sustainable careers

November 25 – December 10—Register for this event.

Food for Thought: The Future of Food and Nutrition

December 14—Register for this event.




The Australian Academy of Science 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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