Science Creating Solutions

The core of this Action Plan is a portfolio of 12 projects and programmes of critical importance to science and to society. All the operations of the Council, whether in strengthening membership engagement, building new partnerships, extending its global reach through improved communications, or mobilizing new resources through more strategic fundraising, are intended to support the successful delivery of these scientific activities and to maximize their impact.

The ISC’s four strategic objectives set out in Section One were adopted by ISC members in 2017 as part of the Council’s High-Level Strategy. They address generic issues that are likely to be relevant to science in any era. In October 2018, the ISC Governing Board identified four ‘domains of impact’ to frame the Council’s scientific work in the coming years. Each represents a landscape of opportunities and challenges, which require thought leadership and action from the ISC as the global voice for science. The domains are headlines for the ISC Action Plan; they are:

The projects and programmes that the ISC has identified as priorities for action in the coming years are listed in Figure 1 on the next page; and each is described in this Action Plan. They provide a suite of solutions-oriented actions that address major opportunities and challenges within the four domains and provide the basis for a balanced portfolio. There are multiple interconnections and synergies between the domains, projects and programmes, which also build on the ISC’s portfolio of existing activities. The latter include sponsorship of a wide range of global scientific networks and events, the management of international funding programmes, and ISC leadership roles in global policy fora, particularly in the post-2015 development processes of the United Nations. These activities are summarized in Appendix One.

Together, the ISC’s strategic objectives, domains of impact and new projects and programmes emphasize a need for the ISC and the global scientific community it represents to take leadership in providing solutions by supporting science that creates actionable knowledge and shaping policies and practices that enable this.

The projects and programmes presented are diverse in their nature, timescale and need for resources. Some are already in progress, while others will be initiated and further developed in the coming two and a half years. The inherent flexibility of this portfolio ensures that the Council will be able to respond to major external developments; ideas or suggestions arising from its members; and new opportunities and emerging issues identified by its Standing Committees.

Criteria for choice

The projects and programmes that follow were selected from a longer list of proposed actions circulated to ISC members in November 2018. They have been selected on the basis of members’ feedback and the following criteria:

  • Importance to society or to science itself
  • Strategic fit with the ISC vision, mission, and strategic objectives
  • Clarity and feasibility of potential pathways to influence and impact
  • Timeliness and potential for innovation
  • Distinctiveness and relevance of an ISC intervention
  • Relevance to ISC members and their activities, and potential for knowledge exchange and policy learning
  • Potential for enabling partnerships which could support delivery and impact
  • Resource availability

Relevance to members

Strengthening the voice for science and the public recognition of and trust in science strengthens all those engaged in the scientific endeavour. The projects and programmes presented above are designed to be relevant to the interest and priorities of all ISC members. They should be implemented in collaboration with members and bring benefit by creating opportunities for ISC members to:

  • shape global priorities for science;
  • collaborate on issues of common interest;
  • showcase the scientific and societal relevance of their work at the international level;
  • bring their scientific and policy expertise to bear on global issues and on challenges facing contemporary science systems;
  • strengthen national and international awareness of and support for the scientific communities they represent;
  • enhance their influence within scientific and policy communities, including national governments and research funders;
  • engage in new networks of knowledge exchange, best practice sharing and policy learning;
  • strengthen their capacities through access to information on international scientific developments, engagement in international scientific leadership, and support for the development of structures, skills and competencies; and
  • contribute to shaping the funding and policy landscape required to enable supportive environments in which scientific research can flourish.


As the ISC moves from planning to action, it will seek partners able to support the Council’s projects and programmes. Some members have already indicated an interest in engaging with particular projects. The ISC will now re-engage with members, as well as partner organizations, to explore their involvement in and support for specific projects or programmes. More detailed descriptions of each of the projects and programmes described in this Action Plan will be made available on the ISC website as a basis for these actions. They will serve as initial concept notes for developing results-oriented work and business plans to guide implementation, partnership development and fundraising.

The Committee for Science Planning will regularly monitor and evaluate progress on the development and implementation of the Council’s projects and programmes. It will also benchmark progress in realizing the Council’s vision of science as a global public good.