High-Level Strategy of the International Science Council

The High-Level Strategy describes the overall strategic goals and ambitions of the International Science Council.

1. Introduction

1.1 A merger between two Councils

A merger of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC) forges a new organization – the International Science Council – to advance the creativity, rigour and relevance of science worldwide. It creates a unified, global voice for science, with a powerful presence in all regions of the world and representation across the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) and social (including behavioural and economic) sciences.

The importance of scientific understanding to society has never been greater, as humanity grapples with the problems of living sustainably and equitably on planet Earth. The Council will defend the inherent value and values of all science at a time when it has become harder for the scientific voice to be heard. It will strengthen international, interdisciplinary collaboration and support scientists to contribute solutions to complex and pressing matters of global public concern. It will advise decision makers and practitioners on the use of science in achieving ambitious agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015. And it will encourage open public engagement with science.

1. Introduction

1.2 Executive Summary

Vision, mission and core values

The vision of the Council is to advance science as a global public good. Scientific knowledge, data and expertise must be universally accessible and its benefits universally shared. The practice of science must be inclusive and equitable, also in opportunities for scientific education and capacity development.

The mission is to act as the global voice for science. That voice must be powerful and credible in:

  • Speaking for the value of all science and the need for evidence-informed understanding and decision-making;
  • Stimulating and supporting international scientific research and scholarship on major issues of global concern;
  • Articulating scientific knowledge on such issues in the public domain;
  • Promoting the continued and equal advancement of scientific rigour, creativity and relevance in all parts of the world; and
  • Defending the free and responsible practice
    of science.

The core values to be upheld in the Council’s work, governance and partnerships will be:

  • Excellence and professionalism;
  • Inclusivity and diversity;
  • Transparency and integrity; and
  • Innovation and sustainability.

Realizing the mission

The Council will realize its mission by convening the scientific expertise and resources needed to provide leadership in catalysing, incubating and coordinating international action on issues of priority to the scientific community and society. It will direct its voice both externally on issues of major public relevance, and internally, on matters that support effective scientific responses, particularly where new knowledge, capacities, resources or ways of working are needed.

In developing agendas for priority action, the Council will draw fully on the resources of the organization’s members and provide flexibility for designing and implementing imaginative, timely and impactful projects and campaigns. Its activities will be delivered in collaboration with its members and key partners.

Achieving success

Leadership by scientists of vision, recognized experience and exceptional achievement will be critical in securing the Council’s legitimacy, credibility and convening power. They will need to ensure that the Council focuses its efforts on a carefully selected and persuasive agenda of priorities and projects that address issues of international scientific and public importance. Successful delivery on that agenda will require effective partnerships, allowing the Council to function as a major  node in a globally connected network of influential and trusted collaborators.

The Council’s unique membership provides the essential foundation for the  organization’s work. The committed engagement of members will be a key  determinant of the Council’s success. They will benefit from international opportunities to advance their own priorities and interests, including participation in important international scientific conversations and activities, and connections with powerful global networks.

Visibility will also be key. Compelling and astute communications and outreach will support recognition of the Council as an influential global voice. Its reputation and  impact will also rest on the competence and capacities of a well-resourced  headquarters.

1. Introduction

1.3 Introduction

In October 2017, at a meeting held in Taipei, the members of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC) agreed to  merge and found the International Science Council. Established in 1931 and 1952 respectively, both Councils have made major contributions to international science over their lifetimes. The decision to merge is in line with the course of developments in science over the past decades. It follows many years of increasing collaboration between the two Councils, and responds to a shared ambition to magnify the impact of their long-standing commitments to work «for the benefit of society» (ICSU) and to «help solve global problems» (ISSC). The merger is intended to build a strong  foundation for advancing science across the disciplines and in all parts of the world, and for protecting the Council’s vital role in shaping humanity’s future on planet Earth. The new organization will draw strength from its unique membership, which brings together scientific unions and associations, academies and research councils.

This document sets out a fundamental statement of purpose and high-level framework for guiding the substantive development of the new Council into the future. It articulates a vision, mission and set of core values for the organization, indicates how the mission can be achieved and what the key determinants of success will be. Its recommendations seek to support the creativity of the Council’s members and leadership to identify priorities and projects that are imaginative, impactful, timely and deliverable at a global level.

Throughout the document, the word science is used to refer to the systematic organization of knowledge that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. It is inclusive of the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) sciences and social
(including behavioural and economic) science domains that will represent the new Council’s primary focus, as well as the humanities, medical, health, computer and engineering sciences.

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