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Scoping the Future: Views and Ideas of Young Scientists to Tackle Global Challenges

Nov 09, 2015     Email"> PrintText Size

Over 900 science leaders from over 100 countries have gathered at the World Science Forum 2015 in Budapest under the theme “The Enabling Power of Science”. On Wednesday, over 50 early career researchers from 30 different countries convened by IAP, WAYS, ICORSA, GYA and UNESCO gathered to analyse challenges and opportunities facing young scientists globally, identify strategies that link global challenges to career opportunities, and present policy recommendations to empower young scientists to impact the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The session highlighted the importance of science and technology as tools for economic growth, social inclusion and regional integration in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The four organizations representing young scientists around the world came together for the first time to present a unified voice for the emerging international young scientists movement, which is demanding a seat at the table in policy discussions and decision making that require scientific input. 

All four organising entities connect and articulate emerging scientific initiatives driven by early-career scientists throughout the world for collective impact. The inclusion of young scientists is essential from at least two perspectives: first, the young researchers of today are the science leaders of tomorrow and shape the future of science. Second, young scientists are role models for students choosing scientific careers. These roles link science today and the science of the future, and should be reflected more in science and technology policies throughout the world. 

The results of these exercises were presented in a 'competitive' plenary session (Lion’s Den) where young scientists pitched their ideas to a distinguished panel of experts, including the IAP Co-Chair, Mohamed Hassan, ECO Science Foundation President, Manzoor Soomro, Executive Officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa, Roseanne Diab, Director of Division of Science Policy and Capacity-Building Sector for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, Maciej Nalecz, and Senior Science Policy Specialist at UNESCO Latin America and the Caribbean, Ernesto Fernandez Polcuch. 

Young scientists presented five ideas on health, clean water, education, jobs, and responsible consumption. Ideas were judged on originality, practicality and persuasiveness. The winning group (Team Jobs of the Future) focused on SDG8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, pitching a gap analysis for the skills that would be required for the jobs of the future. Their idea included developing suitable training courses to provide a talent pipeline to supply future workforce needs. 

IAP Co-Chair, Mohamed Hassan, said of choosing the winning team, “It was a dynamic session with original ideas from future science leaders. It was a difficult decision to choose a winner.  In the end we went with the team that had visionary ideas for transforming SDGs into reality.” 

WSF is a unique platform that brings young scientists in contact with high-level policymakers to help shape both the science and the world of the future. 


The International Consortium of Research Staff Associations (ICORSA) provides a global voice for research staff and postdoctoral scholars.  ICORSA is a collaborative organization that links early-career researcher communities worldwide in order to address common challenges shared by an international research workforce; research staff associations participating in ICORSA include the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars – I'Association canadienne des stagiaires post-doctoraux, l'Association Nationale des Docteurs (France), the Irish Research Staff Association, the Associação Nacional de Investigadores em Ciência e Tecnologia (Portugal), the South African Research Staff Association, the UK Research Staff Association, the US National Postdoctoral Association, the World Association of Young Scientists and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Staff Association.  

ICORSA seeks to enhance research outcomes through the development of researcher communities, to gather evidence on the structure of research careers globally, to inform international research policy on issues such as gender, mobility and pensions, and to build a shared repository of effective and fair researcher working practices.  

For additional information: www.icorsa.org 

The Global Young Academy (GYA), founded in 2010, is the voice of young scientists around the world. The GYA empowers early-career researchers to lead international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational dialogue by developing and mobilizing talent from six continents. Its purpose is to promote reason and inclusiveness in global decision-making. 

The Academy comprises up to 200 early career researchers from over 50 countries and a wide range of disciplines. Members are typically 3 to 10 years post-PhD and below the age of 40 when admitted, and are appointed to five-year terms based on (i) their demonstrated research excellence, and (ii) their commitment to improving the state of science and its links to broader society. After their five-year term, members become GYA alumni and take on advisory and support roles. 

The GYA’s Annual General Meeting alternates between the developed and developing world, stimulating transnational research, and raising the profile of science in a different host nation every year. The Academy also supports the formation and cooperation of National Young Academies, and has organized regional meetings of Young Academies in both Africa and Asia as well as worldwide meetings. GYA members are regularly invited to represent young scientists at external meetings, providing input to international organizations such as UNESCO, the World Economic Forum, and the UN Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board. 

The Academy publishes timely and authoritative reports for policy makers on topics of global importance. Its 2014 report on the Global State of Young Scientists (GloSYS) is the most forward-looking overview of the opportunities and obstacles shaping worldwide research capacity. In 2015, the GYA launched joint projects with the IAP - the global network of science academies - on Solid Waste Management and Green Economy, and with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, identifying Invisible Worlds that affect decision makers. 

For additional information: www.globalyoungacademy.net 

The work of the world’s academies of science, medicine and engineering has resulted in lives saved, better education, and more effective policy approaches to a range of issues. The newly formed InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) is a new organization of academies bringing together established global networks of academies of science, medicine and engineering* into a new collaboration in which academies will work together to support the special role of science and its efforts to seek solutions to address the world’s most challenging problems. 

As an umbrella organization, IAP is able to harness the expertise of the world’s scientific, medical and engineering leaders to advance sound policies, promote excellence in science education, improve public health, and achieve other critical development goals. 

IAP’s some 130 national members and regional networks have compiled an extensive track record of delivering evidence-based advice and performing other services for the global community. This new organization will enable IAP to enlarge the scale and scope of these contributions. 

* The official launch of the InterAcademy Partnership – comprising IAP, the global network of science academies, the InterAcademy medical Panel (IAMP) and the InterAcademy Council (IAC) – is due to take place in Hermanus, South Africa, in February 2016. 

For additional information: www.interacademies.org 

The World Association of Young Scientists (WAYS) is the largest volunteer-run, non-profit and community-driven collaborative science network in the world. Founded in 2004, WAYS empowers young scientists and engineers to become agents of change. WAYS organizes conferences and training programs for young scientists in developing countries to provide them with the knowledge, networks and skills to succeed in their careers, connect them with other scientists and decision-makers, and contribute to the prosperity and wellbeing of their communities and countries at large. 

WAYS is an open-platform, grassroots initiative of 10,000+ registered early-career scientist members, primarily in developing countries, that promotes scientific excellences, and facilitates the contributions of young scientists toward decision making processes in science policy. An emergent, organic grassroots community with a clear focus on science thus forms a cohesive and coherent entity that enables young scientists to develop meaningful and communicative relationships with each other. Such a window to the world of contemporary science is crucial in less scientifically advanced nations and has produced regional outlets, such as WAYS-LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean) and WAYS-ARAB. 

WAYS was launched as the World Academy of Young Scientists (WAYS) in 2004 in Marrakech, Morocco.  This gathering of approximately 120 young scientists from 90 countries was held with assistance from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) and the Moroccan Ministry of National Education. WAYS changed from an ‘Academy’ to an ‘Association’ in 2008. 

For additional information: www.ways.org 


ICORSA: Gordon Dalton (g.dalton@ucc.ie) 

GYA: Eva Alisic (eva.alisic@monash.edu) 

WAYS: Mandë Holford (mande.holford@gmail.com) | Marga Gual Soler (mgsoler@aaas.org ) 

IAP: Peter McGrath (mcgrath@twas.org) 


(Editor: CHEN Na)



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