On March 3rd, the Council of Finnish Academies organized a seminar on Science Diplomacy and the Arctic. The purpose of the seminar was to introduce the concept of ‘science diplomacy’ to Finnish academic and foreign policy discourse.
The speakers of the seminar highlighted the ever strengthening role of science and scientists in diplomacy and foreign policy. The work field of foreign policy is increasingly formed of transnational ‘wicked problems’, which require multi-professional and multi-disciplinary cooperation. A good example of such a work field is that of the Arctic and the international cooperation needed in the governance of the region. As Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja stated in his key note speech:
“There is a growing need to deepen the dialogue between national governments, international actors and the international scientific community. Science diplomacy can help us achieve this goal: providing crucial information for decision makers, strengthening international scientific collaboration and helping scientists in their work as ‘mini diplomats’.”
In order to contribute to complex global problems, Prof. Paul Berkman stated that science diplomacy needs to be an international, interdisciplinary, and inclusive process. One of the central challenges that science diplomacy can help solve is the balancing of “national interests and common interests for the benefit of all on Earth”. Much hangs on the global community’s ability to find a sustainable balance between economic interests, environmental protection, and social equity.
According to Prof. Berkman, science has many possible roles in diplomacy and foreign policy:
- Science as an early warning system
- Science as a determinant of public policy agendas and an element of international institutions
- Science as an instrument for Earth system monitoring and assessment or even as an essential gauge of changes over time and space
- Science as a source of invention and commercial enterprise
- Science as an element of continuity in our global society built on a evolving foundation of prior knowledge
- Science as one of the “subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law,” as provided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ 2011)
- Science as a tool of diplomacy, fostering open dialogues to protect our common welfare and the world we live in.