World Science Forum: a brief history

World Science Forum in 2009

The forum aims to bring scientists and politicians together to discuss emerging issues (Credit: World Science Forum)

The World Science Forum was launched following the success of the World Conference on Science in 1999 (which has a special link to SciDev.Net) as a biannual event held in Budapest, Hungary.

The 1999 conference was meant to draw the attention of political leaders across the world to the importance of science and technology in promoting economic and social prosperity, wrote our editor David Dickson, and this in turn was intended to trigger a raft of political activity, both in developed and developing countries, to boost efforts in this area.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, this did not happen back then and the conference failed to come up with a clear political strategy or a sense of priorities.

One of the messages that emerged from the conference was that a ‘new social contract’ is required between science and society.

A follow-up report listed, somewhat controversially, some of the success examples that came out of the meeting.

One such example was the formation of an international network for young scientists, the World Academy of Young Scientists (WAYS), to act as a bridge between younger researchers from both developed and developing countries, and increase its members’ influence in national and international science policy making.

WAYS soon took off and is still running.

Since then, the forum focused on ‘Knowledge and Society’ (2003), ‘Knowledge, Ethics and Responsibility’ (2005), ‘Investing in Knowledge: Investing in the Future’ (2007) and ‘Knowledge and Future’ (2009).

Join me here and let’s see what this year’s forum on ‘The Changing Landscape of Science – Challenges and Opportunities” will bring.

Mićo Tatalović, deputy news editor, SciDev.Net

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