World Science Forum: a brief history

November 14, 2011
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

SciDev.Net’s special link to the World Science Forum

November 14, 2011
World Science Forum in 2009

The forum will take place at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Hungarian Parliament (Credit: World Science Forum)

I will be blogging from the World Science Forum in Budapest, Hungary, later this week (17­–19 November). It’s the fifth such forum and this year’s focus will be on the ‘changing landscape of science’.

The forum has a special link to SciDev.Net. It dates back to 1999, when the World Conference on Science was held in Budapest. SciDev.Net originated from a project set up by news staff at the journal Nature (with financial assistance from the Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom) to report on that conference. This was well received, leading to the creation of a permanent website devoted to reporting on, and analysing the role of, science and technology in development in 2001.

And voilà, here we are, ten years later, still going strong and witnessing a change in the global science landscape, with more international collaboration, and emerging new scientific powerhouses, such as Brazil, China and India.

The 5th staging of the forum, taking place this week, will look at the changes in science’s geography, with an emphasis on the emerging powerhouses and science in Africa and the Arabic states. It will also consider changes in scientific topics, and emerging issues, including nanotechnology, genetic engineering, food security, energy consumption, and emerging diseases. It hopes to put a special emphasis on bringing together scientists and politicians and encouraging the dialogue between the two communities.

The forum is organised by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in co-operation with UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the International Council for Science (ICSU), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Mićo Tatalović, deputy news editor, SciDev.Net

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