Auckland, New Zealand – New Zealand Prime Minister John Key opened the 31st General Assembly of the International Council for Science with a speech stressing New Zealand’s unique environmental challenges and its contributions to international research.
Outgoing ICSU President, Nobel Prize laureate Professor Yuan-Tseh Lee in his speech paid tribute to the achievements of the global environmental change research programmes which will soon merge into Future Earth. “Without them, we would hardly understand so much about our changing earth,” he said.
“Let us remember why we are here,” he urged, “It is to strengthen international science to help humanity cope with global challenges and achieve sustainable transformation.”
The meeting is hosted by New Zealand’s Royal Society, whose President David Skegg noted that of the previous ICSU General Assemblies only three had been held in the southern hemisphere and this was the first in the South Pacific.
Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, made a keynote speech in which he warned that researchers had to respond to the challenge of responding to disruptive changes that were underway in science.
“The rise of open science and the massive expansion of the scientific endeavour accompanied by the rise of the celebrity scientist and the very individualistic reward system of public science has exposed a number of issues about the integrity of the science system itself.”
Gluckman stressed the importance of public trust in science – which is essential for solving the key challenges society faces in the 21stcentury. “Science systems are changing rapidly, and if we do not manage these changes properly, they can contribute to loss of public trust,” he said.
Over the course of the next three days, delegates from ICSU’s national members and unions will discuss priorities for international science in the coming years, vote in a new leadership including its next President-elect and Executive Board and will consider an official statement on open access to scientific publications.
Denise Young, Head of Communications
Johannes Mengel, Communications Officer/Web Editor