Strengthening ISC’s regional presence

Following an open call for expressions of interest to host an ISC regional presence in late 2020, the ISC inaugurated its new Regional Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean (RFP-LAC) in 2022, within the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences. In October, the Australian Academy of Science was selected to become the Regional Focal Point for Asia and the Pacific (RFP-AP), with critical financial support from the Australian Government.

Strengthening ISC’s regional presence

These regional focal points will mobilize the engagement of regional ISC members and ensure strong representation and participation of regional scientists and institutions in the Council’s programmes and events. They will also serve to widen the ISC community by strengthening global outreach to further a distributed and disciplinary diverse membership.

The ISC and the Regional Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean

The Regional Focal Point for Latin America and the Caribbean is led by Enrique Forero, Chair, assisted by Carolina Santacruz-Perez, Regional Science Officer. During the year, the RFP-LAC was strengthened by the creation of its Liaison Committee, which met for the first time in July. Comprising eleven renowned scientists and thought leaders, active in the dissemination of science in the region, the Committee will provide advice and guidance on the activities of the regional focal point.

The eleven members of the RFP-LAC committee are: Elisa Reis (Brazil); Graciela Díaz de Delgado (Venezuela); Adelle Thomas (Bahamas); R. Daniel Peluffo (Uruguay); Silvina Ponce Dawson (Argentina); Ana Rada (Bolivia); Luisa Fernanda Echeverria-King (Colombia); María del Carmen Samayoa (Guatemala); Luis Sobrevia (Chile); Germán Gutiérrez (Colombia); and Dora-Luz Flores (Mexico).

The RFP-LAC was developed to advance the following objectives:

  1. Develop databases and digital platforms to map the regional scientific community;
  2. Partner with regional funding agencies to improve the management of science resources in LAC countries;
  3. Promote the establishment of regional research centres;
  4. Work with INGSA to build capacity for science advice in the region.

In 2022, the regional office developed its action plan to support the scientific community of the LAC region. This effort started with a mapping exercise, identifying national Member academies and research councils and other relevant partners with the most expertise in five areas of specific interest:

  1. LAC sciences in the pursuit of regional and global sustainability;
  2. Interdisciplinary collaboration in the digital age;
  3. Science for policy, and science advice;
  4. Collaboration between academia, public and private sectors, and civil society.
  5. Science education and the establishment of scientific and research infrastructure in the LAC region.

In a short time, RFP-LAC was able to liaise with various government entities and carried out several activities with influential scientific groups. Examples include working with the UNESCO committee for the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development; participating in the General Assembly of the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences, holding several meetings with important regional stakeholders, including the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture, the Latin American Council of Social Sciences, and the Latin American Academy of Sciences.

The ISC and the Regional Focal Point for Asia and the Pacific

In 2022, the Council announced that the Australian Academy of Science would lead a new regional presence for the ISC in the Asia-Pacific as its Regional Focal Point for Asia and the Pacific. The hub will be boosted by support from the Australian Government, with an AUD 10.3 million investment over the next six years.

Petra Lundgren was appointed to lead the RFP-AP, and work has already begun in earnest to develop a governance structure and to deliver the Global Knowledge Dialogue in partnership with the Academy of Sciences of Malaysia in the final quarter of 2023.

‘We look forward to fostering engagement with the diverse nations across the Asia-Pacific region and working on our shared goal of championing science as a global public good.’

Chennupati Jagadish AC, President of The Australian Academy of Science

The new regional focal point will build on the strong network established by the former regional office of the ISC, hosted by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. The ISC Governing Board and headquarters thanked the Academy, as well as Mazlan Othman who provided leadership for the office from 2017,
for the support provided to maintain the regional office over the years.

Future Africa agreement

In December 2022, following the Council’s Global Knowledge Dialogue in Cape Town (South Africa), the ISC signed an agreement with Future Africa to jointly support African agendas and capacities, and strengthen the representation of African science on the global stage.

Future Africa, a pan-African collaborative research institute at the University of Pretoria will, on behalf of the Council, lead the work on convening African partners in an inclusive scoping and development process aimed at articulating the needs of African scientists and science systems. It will make recommendations about the ISC’s future role and institutional presence in Africa and will identify pathways to implement those recommendations.

‘I thank the ISC for being open minded about developing new strategies on how best to cooperate with African partners. We as the University of Pretoria, with Future Africa in the lead, throw our full support behind this initiative and are excited about the prospect of fostering closer connections between the ISC and
the higher education network in Africa.’

Tawana Kupe, Principal and Vice-chancellor of the University of Pretoria

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