Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter—Issue 9 May 2022

Science Policy and Diplomacy Issue 9 April 2022

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.

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Reflections from the Academy’s Foreign Secretary 2018–22

Professor Elaine Sadler AO FAA


This month, I’ll complete a four-year term as the Foreign Secretary for the Australian Academy of Science. In this role, I have overseen the Academy’s international programs and represent the Academy at international meetings. At the same time, I have continued to lead a research team in my own discipline area of astronomy, using radio telescopes to explore and study the distant Universe.  

Linking Australian scientists to the world has been a core activity of our Academy since its foundation in 1954, and with science an increasingly global endeavour this activity has never been more important. Two of the greatest challenges of our time, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, can only be addressed effectively through a unified international approach that links science with public policy. At the start of my term in 2018, I travelled to Paris to attend the inaugural general assembly of the International Science Council (ISC), an organisation that brings together over 200 international scientific unions, associations and academies, linking scientists with researchers in the humanities and social sciences to provide a ‘global voice for science’. Australia is active in many of the ISC’s activities, including science communication, combating misinformation and defending the free and responsible practice of science across the world. 

The COVID pandemic required us to develop new ways of working together, and in my own field of astronomy the move to online meetings and seminars has reshaped many aspects of the way we collaborate internationally. As a recent article in Nature Sustainability showed, the move to virtual conferences has improved equity and diversity in science by removing barriers to participation at the same time as reducing the carbon footprint of those attending. Now that borders are opening again, it will be important for many of us to reconnect in person with colleagues and organisations overseas – but we should also ensure that we build on the experiences of the past two years and continue to develop new and sustainable ways of working internationally.

Policy and diplomacy news

Position statement: Science and Australia’s Positive Future

The Academy recently released a position statement on Science and Australia’s Positive Future. In this statement, the Academy calls on the next Australian government to secure Australian jobs and Australian industries with science through:

  1. securing the scientific base through a long-term investment strategy for science
  2. advancing a cohesive, national approach to securing new jobs and industries through science and technology
  3. establishing robust and permanent mechanisms for independent science advice to inform policy across all of government
  4. undertaking a national whole-of-government review of the science and research system.

Have your say on INGSA’s new strategy

The International Network for Government Science Advice is consulting on its draft 2022–2025 strategic plan. The new plan will focus on strengthening its operations and governance, addressing linguistic and cultural diversity in science advice mechanisms, and supporting the integration of science advice between local and global levels. Provide your input on the consultation draft by 12 June 2022.

Principles and Structures of science advice: An outline

The International Network of Government Science Advice has released an Occasional Paper, Principles and Structures of science advice: An outline, on the development of a training module on science advice and diplomacy for the International Science Council community and Members. The report is currently available in seven languages.

Emerging technologies: a role for science diplomacy

In February, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Science and Diplomacy published a special issue of Science & Diplomacy that dives into the growing intersection of emerging technologies and diplomacy. The pieces within the issue review the current landscape, reflecting individual experiences and offering an expanding definition of emerging technologies while suggesting roles for science diplomacy.

Statements on the current conflict in Ukraine

The Academy condemned in the harshest possible terms the unprovoked and unlawful military aggression by Russia on the sovereign country of Ukraine. Diplomacy, dialogue and good will are tested ways to try and resolve serious conflicts such as this one. We call for this to happen immediately before more innocent civilians on both sides are severely impacted or lose their lives. The Academy also contributed to a statement published by the Australian Council of Learned Academies.

The International Science Council (ISC) expressed its deep dismay and concerns regarding the military offensives being carried out in Ukraine and warns against the severe outcomes that conflict will have on the research and academic community.

The ISC launched the Science in Exile Declaration ‘Supporting at-risk, displaced and refugee scientists: A call to action’, outlining key commitments necessary at global level for both immediate and long-term support and protection to scholars and scientists who are at-risk, displaced or refugees, so as to build a better future for them, science and society at large.

The ISC is one of many organisations monitoring and collating statements, calls to action and responses of the international science community to the ongoing conflict, which include:

International scientific collaboration in times of military conflict

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has had wide-ranging impacts on international scientific collaborations as institutions and organisations around the world navigate rapidly shifting landscapes, including balancing actions to support affected scientific communities while maintaining a guiding principle of international scientific collaboration, such as the ISC’s Principle of the Universality of Science:

Global resolution to end plastic pollution

A resolution to end plastic pollution was endorsed by 175 countries at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi on 2 March. The resolution will see a legally binding agreement by the end of 2024 that addresses plastic use at all stages of its lifecycle from production to disposal. 

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.

How should the Australian Parliament get its science advice?

Australians owe it to themselves to ensure that political leaders have the wherewithal to debate facts, many informed by science – that they are equipped to distinguish between evidence and make-believe while understanding that science evolves.

Read the Academy’s analysis of the case for a Parliamentary Science Office.

Industry and jobs, science and technology

Strong science capability delivers benefits to society; science allows us to learn more about the nature of the world we live in and is at the heart of the options or solutions to many of the major challenges facing our nation and the world.

Read the Academy’s analysis of why Australia needs a properly developed and funded science system.

Why does Australian science need long-term investment?

An investment strategy for science and research is essential to secure Australia’s scientific capacity so fundamental to our future in an uncertain world, and to find solutions to our nation’s challenges. A strong science sector relies on long-term, consistent and coherent government funding – the ‘patient capital’ – to support discovery and innovation.

Read the Academy’s analysis of why Australia needs a sustained investment in science.

Academy response to the 2022–23 Federal Budget

The Academy responded to the 2022–23 Australian Federal Budget, welcoming funding to improve the provision of evidence-based science advice to government but noting missed opportunities to fund the fundamental science capabilities needed to support research translation and commercialisation goals.

National Research Infrastructure crucial factor in research pipeline

The Academy welcomed the release of the Australian Government’s 2021 National Research Infrastructure (NRI) Roadmap. The roadmap makes many noteworthy recommendations to ensure Australia’s research infrastructure is poised to deliver long-term national benefit, particularly the recommendation made in successive roadmaps to establish an Expert NRI Advisory Group that can deliver strategic advice on priorities, trends and opportunities.

The IPCC Working Group II report and what it means for you

Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability was released on 28 February as part of the International Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report. The Academy held an online webinar with Australian authors from Working Group II to discuss the report’s findings, which is available to view on our website. We also released a statement supporting the Working Group III report.


Professional athletes subjected to unjustified collection of personal data

The Academy released the discussion paper 'Getting ahead of the game: athlete data in professional sport' developed by the Academy and the Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab at UWA Law School, with support from the Frontier Technology Initiative of Minderoo Foundation.

The discussion paper reveals that Australian professional sports are collecting more personal information about athletes than they can meaningfully deal with. Concerningly, this data—which is personal, unique, and intimately revealing about individual athletes—amounts to excessively more information than has been proven to be useful.

Submissions, statements and publications

April 2022

Australian Academy of Science statement on mitochondrial donation law reform

The Academy welcomed the passing of Maeve’s Law by the Australian Parliament on 31 March. The law reform will allow research into mitochondrial donation for children at risk of inheriting mitochondrial disease.

Report: Addressing the existential threat: climate change as a catalyst for reform in World Heritage

The Academy released the World Heritage Convention and Climate Change Roundtable report. The online roundtable, held on 6 December 2021 by the Academy in consultation with the Australian Academy of Law, brought together 18 Australian technical and legal experts in natural and cultural heritage, climate change, and diplomacy. The ideas generated by this roundtable aim to help the World Heritage community address the threat of climate change by addressing collective challenges, rather than on a property-by-property basis.

March 2022

Position Statement: Science and Australia’s Positive Future

In this statement, the Academy calls on the next Australian government to secure Australian jobs and Australian industries with science

Australian Academy of Science statement on current conflict in Ukraine

The Academy condemns the unprovoked and unlawful military aggression by Russia on the sovereign country of Ukraine. 

February 2022

Submission: Australian Research Council (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018

The Academy provided a submission to the Senate Environment and Education Legislative Committee inquiry into the Australian Research Council (Ensuring Research Independence) Bill 2018. The Academy spoke in favour of the Bill, and outlines the necessary reforms needed to maintain integrity and confidence in the Australian Research Council’s grant review processes.

Community showcase

Nominations open for 2023 honorific awards and funding

Nominations are now open for the Academy’s 2023 honorific awards, research conferences, research awards and travelling fellowships.

Academy Fellow honoured for international scientific collaborations

Academy Fellow Professor Sue O’Reilly AM FAA has been honoured with one of China’s most prestigious awards in recognition of her work promoting scientific and technological cooperation between China and Australia.

Eleven young researchers heading to Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting

Eleven early-career researchers from Australia will be attending the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting in Lindau, Germany, including six recently nominated by the Australian Academy of Science and five attendees who attended the 70th meeting virtually in 2021.


Flourish! Interdisciplinary solutions for a thriving planet

Date (Symposium): 6–7 June 2022
Date (Professional development workshops): 24 May and 29 June 2022
Venue: Brisbane and online
Event website

The Flourish! Symposium aims to bring together a diversity of researchers, industry, community representatives and policy makers to address the challenges of simultaneously improving human and ecosystem health in an interconnected and changing world and propose boundary spanning solutions and frameworks to ensure long term wellbeing and resilience of people and the planet. Accessibility grants are available for this event.

Colloquia on Science Diplomacy MMXXII

Date: February–November 2022
Venue: Rome and online (lectures recorded)
Event website

The Colloquia on Science Diplomacy, organised by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the International Organizations and Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Italy, promotes the values of Diplomacy and Science in international relations as fundamental principles to be pursued in the modus operandi and the modus vivendi of modern society. The colloquia convenes important personalities of world institutions and the presidents of prestigious academies to discuss various topics and future developments of interest for the international community.

Science and Democracy Lecture Series

Multiple dates
Event website

The Harvard Kenney School’s Science and Democracy Lecture Series aims to spark lively, university-wide discussion of the place and meaning of science and technology, broadly conceived, in democratic societies. It explores both the promised benefits of the era’s most salient scientific and technological breakthroughs and the potentially harmful consequences of developments that are inadequately understood, debated or managed by politicians, institutions and lay publics.


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