Board of Directors
Sir Jeremy Farrar
Chorh Chuan Tan
Senior Advisor to the Board
Executive Director Corporate Affairs
Executive Director Science Communication & Outreach
What is the purpose of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator?
Humanity is facing global challenges putting people and planet under stress. At the same time, the world is experiencing breakthrough science and technological discoveries at an unprecedented speed.
Every day, scientists throughout the world act on a global scale within international networks and give rise to cutting-edge technologies (think of blockchain, quantum computers, personalized medicine). If properly identified, developed and shared, those technologies can help accelerate inclusive development and enable more people to benefit, especially those living in less advanced, developing and emerging economies.
Anticipating which technologies are emerging and which global challenges these technologies may help tackle is a prerequisite to better serve humanity. Doing so is not obvious in our highly specialized and compartmentalized world. The Anticipator’s purpose is to achieve this by bringing together different actors from society, science, diplomacy, governmental and intergovernmental organizations, industry or philanthropy.
Why is it called an « Anticipator »?
We need to realize that the future is already taking shape in the most advanced laboratories, where scientists are working on so-called “scientific frontier topics”, such as artificial intelligence, gene editing, brain technologies or geo-engineering.
Given this context, the challenge is to detect early enough (i.e. to “anticipate”) frontier “next generation” scientific and technological topics. Take for example decarbonization technologies or fusion energy, which could play a central role in the fight against climate change. Or cutting-edge neuroprostheses that are beginning not only to allow disabled paraplegics to walk again, but also to give hope to better tackle the problems related to degenerative diseases.
If we really want the world’s population to benefit more quickly from these upcoming opportunities, regardless of their current economic or geographical situation, society must address the emerging scientific and technological trends early enough. This is also what we need to reach the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
How can Science and Diplomacy work together and why should they?
By building what former World Trade Organization’s Director Pascal Lamy called “creative coalitions” in his 2013 Oxford Martin Report “Now for the long term”. In our view, this requires “broad-based creative coalitions”, considering the global scientific community as a full-fledged “actor” bringing its cutting-edge expertise tailored for discussion with people from the all over the world, governmental and intergovernmental institutions, not to mention industry and philanthropy.
Because we are all part of the same global world. Politics and Diplomacy are the art of making things possible. The scientific community is ahead of the trends possibly enabling this. This explains the current global trend towards better linking science and diplomacy, as demonstrated by the recent Madrid Declaration on Science Diplomacy. The Geneva Anticipator will put it into practice. And ensure to bridge the gap between science and diplomacy with action-oriented solutions.
Why Science and Diplomacy projects are at home in Switzerland and Geneva?
Switzerland is a global economic actor and a global diplomatic catalyst as a neutral country hosting many key international organizations in Geneva and throughout the country, including the United Nations Organization, the World Economic Forum, the newly created Cyber Peace Institute or the Swiss Digital Initiative on digital ethics currently in its preparation phase. Geneva is positioned as the logical place for sustainable finance and the implementation of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Switzerland also has a long tradition in advanced science, engineering, technology and innovation. Like a few regions of the world, it is recognized for its scientific excellence. To date, out of 34 Nobel Prizes awarded to Swiss personalities or organizations working in Switzerland, 20 of them have rewarded scientists.
What is true for Switzerland is true for Geneva where many major discoveries have been made since 1960 : think of the restriction enzymes discovered by Professor Arber, a major enabler of the current bio-economy who was awarded in 1978 the Nobel Prize in Medicine ; think of the World Wide Web developed at CERN in 1991 or more recently the observation in 2012 for the first time of the Higgs Boson, not to mention the first exoplanet discovered in 1995 by Professor Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz from the University of Geneva. Both have just received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics at the very moment when “Sustainable Space Environment” is becoming a relevant topic among international space organizations around the world.
All this creates a perfect ecosystem to address frontier issues and emerging challenges while leveraging the presence and passage of global leaders in the Geneva region.