Australia's engagement with the International Science Council

Since 1954, the Academy has represented Australian interests at the International Science Council (ISC), formerly the International Council for Science (ICSU), as the Member Organisation for Australia. The Academy meets the responsibilities and obligations that arise from membership to the ISC and its scientific bodies with the assistance of the National Committees for Science. These include coordinating responses and submissions as well as nominations for executive committee positions and appointment of voting delegates to general assemblies.

The International Science Council is a non-government organisation representing both natural and social sciences, with a global membership of 40 international scientific unions and interdisciplinary science bodies as well as over 140 national and regional scientific bodies. These organisations convene scientists within and across natural and social science disciplines to coordinate research and address issues of global significance.

The ISC was formed in July 2018 by the merger of the International Council for Science and the International Social Science Council. The Academy represented Australian science at the historic meeting, with a delegation consisting of the current and immediate past Foreign Secretaries and the directors of International Programs and Future Earth Australia, advised by Professor David Black FAA, Academy Fellow and Secretary-General of ICSU.

The Asia–Pacific region is well-represented at the ISC during its formative years. Among the elected members of the inaugural ISC Board are Professor Sir Peter Gluckman KNZM FRSNZ FMedSci FRS (President-Elect, New Zealand), Professor Jinghai Li (Vice-President, China), Professor Ruth Fincher AM FASSA (Ordinary Member, Australia) and Professor James C. Liao (Ordinary Member, Taiwan).

In addition to membership of the ISC, the Academy is also involved in the ISC Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) which focuses on the development of science throughout Asia and the Pacific and aims to strengthen the voice of scientists from developing countries in the region.


ICSU Liaison Officer

Benefits of Australian membership of the International Science Council and international scientific unions

These reports summarise the benefits returned to Australia through its membership of global science organisation, the International Science Council, and the Australian Academy of Science’s strategy to enhance these benefits.

The Academy’s previous report, Maximising the Benefits from Australia’s formal linkages to global scientific activities, was published in 2005. The report found that contributing to progress in science, developing excellence in Australian science, and maximising the benefits of science requires that Australia participates fully in this enterprise. The full report may be downloaded here.

Australian membership managed by the Academy

The Academy manages Australia’s membership to 30 international scientific unions and scientific committees of the ISC. These international, non-governmental, scientific organisations work to support the development of international cooperation in their respective fields. The majority of the international scientific unions and committees have great international convening power through General Assemblies, conferences, symposia and other international science events. These activities directly support and facilitate global cooperation in science. Information on Union events held in Australia may be found below.

The Academy's 22 National Committees for Science have a remit to foster a designated branch or theme of natural science in Australia and to serve as links between Australian and overseas scientists in the same field. The committees advise the Academy’s Council on Australia’s representation for the unions and multidisciplinary bodies of the International Science Council and other international bodies.

The Academy's Advisory Committee on International Matters (ACIM) provides advice to the Academy’s Council regarding the ISC, InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), the Associations of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA) and any other international relations matters of the Academy which are referred to it.

Australian representation on ISC organisations

The Australian delegation votes at the International Mathematical Union’s general assembly in Rio de Janeiro, 2018.
Credit: International Council for Science

Australia’s global science credibility and influence is enhanced by high-level representation on the executives of ISC organisations. Each ISC organisation has substructures of committees and task groups in which an estimated 370 Australians serve at any given time. This gives Australian scientists extensive opportunities to contribute to international strategic planning and priority setting, and to establish research collaborations with other leaders in their fields.

View the current list of Australians holding positions on the executive boards of ISC organisations.

Australian partner organisations

The Academy has established valuable agreements with professional societies to enable more Australian researchers to have a voice on the international stage. These partners work closely with the relevant National Committees to promote the benefits of the unions to the scientific community. In 2016 these organisations are:


Union meetings held in Australia

Australian organisations routinely bid to hold congresses and scientific meetings of the unions in Australia. Recent and upcoming meetings are listed below:






International Conference of Young Researchers on Advanced Materials




International Union for Materials Research Societies 20th International Conference in Asia




43rd Scientific Assembly








International Union for Pure and Applied Physics International Conference on Women in Physics





Asia-Pacific Radio Science Conference

Sydney 2022

International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Congress

Melbourne 2024

2024 International Commission for Mathematical Instruction conference (ICME25)



View a summary of union meetings held between 2015-2017.

Guidelines for scientific meetings held in Australia

Hobart Wooden Boat Festival
Samuel Shelley

The Academy’s guidelines for scientific meetings set out the policy on holding international meetings in Australia for the information of the relevant scientific communities, convention bureaus and other interested organisations.

International Meetings held in Australia are extremely beneficial to Australian science and society. More information on the benefits of International Scientific Meetings in Australia can be found in the International Science Council benefits report.

Learn more about the process of hosting an international scientific meeting.

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