17 November 2015

"The Next 30 Years"

Marking the 30th anniversary of the first TWAS meeting, a special issue of the TWAS Newsletter features essays on future challenges and opportunities in fields ranging from higher education and energy to agriculture and science diplomacy.

Our approach to key global issues, and science issues in particular, is constantly changing. Over the next three decades, how will we improve our response to natural disasters and meet higher demand for clean energy? Will poverty be close to an end, as the UN Sustainable Development Goals hope? What role will science diplomacy play in achieving these global agendas?

In a special issue of the TWAS Newsletter – "The Next 30 Years" – 26 TWAS Fellows and Young Affiliates, along with other leading thinkers, explore a number of key issues that will shape our common future. Many of the Newsletter topics reflect the Academy's mandate to advance science in the developing world, as well as some of the UN development goals.

Experts like Zakri Abdul Hamid, the founding chair of the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and Italian physicist Filippo Giorgi, from the Abdus Salam Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, focus on building capacity to protect biodiversity and address climate change, both locally and globally. Marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco, named by US President Barack Obama as the State Department’s first science envoy for the ocean, advocates establishing South-North partnerships to achieve win-win situations that will protect the oceans.

Trust and support from the people and cooperation among non-governmental organisations are key element of success when it comes to campaigns against deadly diseases, observes Rabia Hussain, a TWAS Council vice president and distinguished national professor at the Central and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. At the same time, research ethics and transparency in medicine are a pivotal element to restore and cement the public's confidence in science, says Jimmy Volmink, a member of the InterAcademy Medical Panel (IAMP) Executive Committee.

See more news from the 26th TWAS General Meeting in Vienna, Austria

But implementing food and water security through sound policy, investing in higher education, fighting to eradicate poverty and promoting stronger participation of women in science are likewise urgent.

Today TWAS is shaping its future with an eye to such challenges, says President Bai Chunli in his editorial: increasing women's representation in the Academy's membership and decision-making; encouraging the creativity and involvement of young scientists; moving ahead in its capacity to act as an adviser on science policy.

The TWAS Newsletter receives support from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences. It will be displayed at the 26th General Meeting of TWAS, which runs 18-21 November in Vienna, Austria, in the historical building where the Austrian Academy of Sciences is headquartered. More than 350 dignitaries, policymakers, scientists and educators will be in the audience, as the meeting focuses on science for sustainable development – and the role of TWAS Fellows, Young Affiliates and partners in that drive.

TWAS has built its international reputation during more than 30 years of activity aimed at supporting science in developing countries. But the future is demanding even more substantial action, and the Academy itself must evolve to meet the challenges confronting the world. Experts speaking from the Newsletter's pages offer their expertise, suggesting important missions for TWAS in the decades ahead.

Cristina Serra

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