Webinar on COVID-19 and Open Science

At the 40th session of UNESCO's General Conference, 193 Members States tasked UNESCO with the development of an international standard-setting instrument on Open Science in the form of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science to be adopted by the Member States in 2021.

As a response to Covid19, UNESCO in partnership with Pakistan Academy of Sciences is planning to organize a Webinar on Covid19 and Open Science.

Background and Rationale
As COVID-19 spreads rapidly around the world, crossing geographical borders it reminds us again that we all live on one, and only one, planet. Today, the world is in urgent need of rapid sharing of scientific information. Policy and decision-makers rely on scientific information to make evidence-based decisions to control the current outbreak and address mitigation efforts for future pandemics. When informed about scientific facts, citizens act more responsibly and are able to debunk misinformation.

The reaction of the scientific community and societies to the Coronavirus outbreak has reaffirmed the urgent need for a transition to Open Science. UNESCO, as the United Nation's agency with the mandate in science, peruses Open Science as a game-changer in fulfilling the human right to science and bridging the science, technology and innovation gaps between and within countries.

The genetic sequence of the coronavirus was posted in an open access depository on genetic information, thus available to researchers who wanted to study it, therefore contributing to global scientific collaboration to analyze the genome, and share data in real time on the COVID-19. The novel coronavirus is the epicenter for converging border-less scientific research.

The Opportunity
With a globalized and connected world, Open Science will be bringing together scientific, research and innovation communities across the world, and strengthening the relation between science and society. All over the world, researchers and technology developers, engineers, academia, innovators, from private and public sectors, have been embracing the open science concept for making science more widespread and accessible. Linkages between knowledge systems, the 'hard core science' and citizen science are critical for ensuring that 'no one is left behind' and are steering the science we want for the future we want. The unique mobilization of the world's scientific community during COVID-19 is a testimony of the value of 'open science' without borders. Lessons learnt call for every individual's right and access to scientific knowledge.

Boosting research spending and easing the rules to cope with the pandemic has spurred scientists to push the frontiers of discovery in pursuit of diagnostic technologies. The coronavirus outbreak puts 'open science' under a microscope, calling for rapid, free access and public postings of scientific findings. How can we ensure the enabling conditions for this 'open science' continues to thrive, mindful of the conditions of researchers and their dismal budgets. The COVID-19 experience has demonstrated that the international scientific collaboration on quick data release and sharing among scientists is guiding global decisions to control the pandemic.

Recognizing the need and importance of knowledge sharing as a pre-condition for 'open science for all' whilst contributing to the advancement of science technology and innovation, UNESCO organized a Virtual Ministerial Dialogue on COVID-19 and Open Science, held on 30 March 2020. UNESCO is proud to have facilitated this virtual dialogue, which brought together 210 participants from 122 countries, including 77 ministers and deputy ministers in charge of science and technology, European Union and African Union Commissioners and the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist.

This dialogue sent a strong message of global solidarity, not only to address the COVID-19 pandemic but also to tackle other pressing sustainability issues. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that a true coalition of scientists, working in a spirit of Open Science, is sharing scientific and technological data to manage the pandemic. The ministerial meeting reaffirmed the critical role played by science in containing global threats and ensuring our preparedness for the future. Participants at the meeting called for more international scientific collaboration by boosting Open Science and channeling broad scientific advice and support from the local to the global levels.

As follow up to the global meeting, UNESCO and Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS) is planning to organize a webinar on Covid19 and Open Science in Pakistan, where leaders of the scientific and research community, Academia, relevant Government agencies will participate.

Meeting Objectives
The purpose of the webinar is to provide a platform for dialogue and share experiences and lessons learnt on how science has informed evidence based decision-making and how Pakistan can take benefit from open science.

Meeting format
This is a virtual event were all the participants will join through an online platform. After experts' talks, participants can contribute in the discussion.

Expected Outcomes
- Identification of key areas for improvement
- Key interventions for an action plan to improve the present situation