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I.5  Science Across Borders


International cooperation is a proven mechanism for promoting excellence in scientific research. Scientists collaborate across borders for a variety of reasons: to bring together the most talented and qualified individuals, to pool intellectual, technological and financial resources, and to effectively address scientific questions that transcend geographical and political boundaries. Cooperation is most straightforward when it is based on agreements between individual researchers although, as always, lack of funding can be a major obstacle, while other difficulties may arise in connection with visas, family relocations, cultural adaptation, etc. This session of the World Conference on Science will focus on another, increasingly important, set of challenges: those related to the institutional and organizational dimensions of international cooperation. Most often, these arise in connection with very large projects and programs which may be facility-based (telescopes and accelerators, for example), or may involve the coordination of a large number of small- or medium-scale activities (for instance, genome-mapping programs). In these areas, there is an crucial role for multilateral organizations: scientific ones (such as those that make up the ICSU family), intergovernmental bodies (such as UNESCO), and ad-hoc special-purpose structures that are set up on a bilateral, multilateral, regional or global basis.

Symposium participants will examine various arrangements through which international scientific co-operation is actually pursued. Based on presentations and follow-up discussions, they will develop findings and conclusions that can be used to broaden and strengthen international scientific co-operation in the future. Potential subjects to be addressed by the speakers and discussants are: (a) Identifying broad principles and objectives for regional and global co-operation; (b) Selecting scientific disciplines and societal needs that could benefit from co-operative work; (c) Ensuring broad-based/inclusive participation; (d) Making optimal choices of scientific goals and projects; (e) Synchronising national/regional foresight and planning exercises; (f) Organisational, governance, financing aspects of projects or organisations; (g) Removing administrative and legislative barriers; (h) The connection between financial participation and access to a project; (i) Personnel and international mobility issues (e.g., "brain drain"); (j) Design, planning, evaluation and sunset provisions for projects and programs.

Chair: Peter Tindemans Chairman, OECD Megascience Forum, Netherlands
Rapporteur: Stefan Michalowski OECD, France

Session co-ordinator: Stefan Michalowski OECD, France
Local secretary: S.Toth Office of Science and Technology Policy Council, Hungary


The need for international cooperation
in science and technology

Enric Banda
Secretary-General, European Science Foundation, France

We live in a knowledge-based and global economy which creates new challenges for S&T. Governments increasingly demand shorter-term benefits more visible to their citizens through national economic progress. In turn this adds pressure on more fundamental research and especially its international cooperative aspect. At the same time, Governments also look to cost-sharing so pulling the science system in opposing directions.

International S&T cooperation takes many forms from top-down inter-governmental arrangements (as in space science or HFSP - Human Frontiers Science Program) to bilateral, bottom-up cooperation between two individuals or groups sharing ideas to solve common problems. Other forms of international links involve facilities or data. However, there is one clear message and that is, that science has always been and will, for the foreseeable future, be an international endeavour in which national ‘ownership’ is incompatible with this principle.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will change our working practices and make international exchange of ideas even more the norm. Mobility, particularly of younger scientists, will also need to be facilitated. Ethical issues and public pressures will provide another ‘driving force’ in the encouragement of international S&T, in order to answer new global problems.

Looking at the regional scale, it is evident that scientific collaboration across frontiers is an important component in regional political development and this is especially so in Europe, both within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the continent. This also raises the issue of scale and competitivity of S&T in a global economy.

Thus, international scientific collaboration is necessary for survival in a globalising world and is equally necessary at the global and regional scales. Europe provides an interesting example of the various factors acting on the S&T system from the political and societal viewpoint and operating at the global, continental, national and regional scales.

The new commitment for science across borders:
a viewpoint of a developing country

Hu Qiheng
Vice-President, CAST, China

International collaboration in science and technology: lessons from CERN

C. Llewellyn-Smith
Provost, University College London, UK

Science knows no national boundaries. Indeed , as far as we can tell from light reaching us from distant galaxies, the laws of nature are the same everywhere in the Universe, and always have been. It is natural therefore that there should be international cooperation and collaboration in science, and the advance of science and innovation is facilitated by drawing on the deepest sources of knowledge wherever they may be available.

It is important nevertheless to understand when and in what form international collaboration is desirable. After some general comments, I shall consider collaboration in the construction and utilization of large facilities. In particular, I shall analyse the experience of CERN - the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, which is now in a sense becoming a world organisation.

Physicists from some 50 countries will participate in experiments at CERN’s next project, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is set to be the first megascience project constructed by a global partnership, driven ‘bottom up’ by the scientists involved. The LHC experience, in which I participated as Director General of CERN when the project was approved and agreements drawn up with non-European States, could provide a precedent for other projects.

Scientific cooperation in Latin America

Oscar Grau
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, UN de La Plata, Argentina

The development of sciences in Latin America is extremely uneven both in disciplines and geographical distribution.

There are some institutions and laboratories of high international standards but the ratio of scientists per total population is much lower than that of the most advanced countries and the investment in research is in average below 0.4% of the GNP.

Therefore, to tackle problems of high significance for Latin America and to help the least advanced sectors; it is indispensable, on the one hand, to increase investment in R & D and, on the other, to improve cooperation within the Region and abroad.

Several national, multinational and regional scientific institutions and networks are working to foster endogenous and worldwide collaboration. Among them, Governmental Agencies for Science and Technology, bilateral and multilateral agreements, OAS, CYTED, INCO, etc. should be mentioned.

Several Regional Networks covering basic sciences have been created along the years with the support of UNESCO and ICSU, namely: RELAA (Latin American Network of Astronomy), RELAB (Latin American Network of Biological Sciences), RELAFI (Latin American Physics Network), RELAMA (Latin American Mathematics Network), RELACQ (Latin American Chemistry Network), RELACT (Latin American Network of Earth Sciences); which are very active in promoting post-graduate training, regional research projects and studies of specific problems relevant to the region.

Each network constitutes an NGO, which is highly representative because it integrates the efforts of very distinguished scientists, regional scientific societies and institutions, and in some case members of the governments.

These networks have constituted a Coordinating Committee to stimulate the generation of local and regional policies and mechanisms for the promotion and use of basic sciences as tools for development and integration.

UNESCO, OAS and several governments have already recognized the efficiency and effectiveness of these networks for executing substantive actions and have provided resources to conduct those activities.

At the moment, comprehensive projects are being drafted to be submitted to potential donors to be able to further increase their working capacity in three major areas: The enhancement of the relationship between science and society (including the productive sector), the improvement of understanding between science and governments and the development of each particular field of science.

The first two points are crucial because political decisions to provide more resources for science will only came as a consequence of a better appraisal by governors and society at large of the benefits that science could render.

International collaboration in the fields of life/brain science

Masao Ito
RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Tokyo, Japan

Megascience projects such as ITER or Space projects, that require large concentrated facilities and workforce, evidently need multinational collaboration. The situation is similar even in the fields of life/brain science as typically represented by the Human Genome project. These fields belong to the so-called distributed megasciences where basic research is conducted in numerous relatively small laboratories of diverse disciplines. Yet, they are fields developing to a mega scale in terms of both the funding and workforce required, and our expectations of their great impact on future society justifies a focused investment of governmental and intergovernmental resources. In particular, research in the fields of life/brain science is expected to play an invaluable role in our efforts to cope with the serious problems of our aging society. Advancement in the field of life science is expected to eventually lead to eradication of still-fatal and intractable diseases including Alzheimer's disease. Advancement in the field of brain science is expected to lead to the development of complex computers and robots which are expected to compensate for the shortage of workforce arising from the aging of society. Because of their distributed nature, a unique form of international collaboration is required in the fields of the life/brain science, in which individual basic research projects conducted by researchers across borders must be promoted. Support for such collaboration is presently scarce, except from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), which specifically aims at the promotion of transcontinental cooperation in the fields of life/brain science, based on its multigovernmental resources and management. Its achievements were reviewed very positively by an external panel a few years ago. I propose that such multinational programs as this are further launched and expanded by the addition of programs for constructing databases in a number of world centers and also for training young scientists in these fields, in particular, those from developing countries.


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