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InsSciDE at ESOF 2018

Our UNESCO Expert Casimiro Vizzini shares his own experience at ESOF 2018 in Toulouse:

“I was delighted to attend the ESOF conference in Toulouse this year. InsSciDE was able to show its potential to the scientific community by hosting a poster and Flash Presentation. In addition, at ESOF’s request, InsSciDE deputy coordinator Leonard Laborie organised the Plenary Panel Discussion, “Scientists as Diplomats – whether they like it or not? ”, which also involved speakers such as Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), who was the panel moderator as well. It was also a great pleasure to meet the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas: I had the chance to discuss with him about InsSciDE’s work.

Our poster was the result of collaboration between multiple InsSciDE partners, and outlined the research carried out under each of the project’s themes. To our immense satisfaction, the poster was well-received and generated major interest at the conference.

The Plenary Panel Discussion was centred around the role and work of science diplomats. The topic of science diplomacy has recently started to gain major interest, but not much has really been discussed on the role of science diplomats themselves. The Plenary Panel Discussion provided the opportunity for scientists to share their personal stories on how they have decided to shift their scientific careers and focus on diplomacy and international relations instead. It was fascinating to hear stories in which science, when under threat, has been defended in unstable political settings.

As highlighted in the Panel Discussion, the diplomatic community should benefit from the universality of sciences, in which there are no filters and no real challenges to the freedom of expression, and should foster a stronger relationship with the scientific domain. Indeed, it is fundamental to view science as a neutral common ground where both scientists and diplomats can become essential components of diplomatic processes.

However, there is still some hostility towards the compatibility between diplomacy and science, and I believe that there is still a lot of work to be done on this matter. For this reason, InsSciDE wishes to contribute to the creation of what we call a ’shared’ diplomacy for Europe, to create an innovative dialogue for Science Academies and Science Diplomats. I was given the opportunity to share such motives and ambitions behind the project with a Flash Presentation at the end of the Panel Discussion: for this, we were pleased to receive an award from the ESOF Prize Committee.”