Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator

Solution idea:
Global Science & Diplomacy

The products of science are celebrated as drivers of global health, sustainable development and prosperity. But science and technology are also sources of tension and competition between nations and regions. The COVID-19 and climate crises highlight the increasingly important role of science on the international stage and demonstrate how breakthrough advances in novel technologies – such as new vaccines or decarbonization materials – can quickly become a crucial part of the currency of international negotiations, diplomacy and geopolitics.

Science diplomacy is a relatively new discipline with a broad and multidisciplinary skill set, and as such there is a growing need to support and empower the increasingly diverse range of stakeholders who practice it. One issue is how to connect actors from government, academia, global companies, international organizations, grass roots and non-governmental organisations that often speak different “languages” and find ways to bring them together to get closer to a common “worldview”, as well as train individuals and institutions with the needed technical and diplomatic “multilingualism” to communicate and work together effectively across boundaries.

As part of GESDA’S core mandate to promote Anticipatory Science and Diplomacy for Multilateralism, we propose to develop a Global Curriculum on Science Diplomacy to provide educational frameworks, training approaches and pedagogical methods to foster competences, capacities and networks to bring science anticipation to the centre of decision-making in multilateral and national contexts to successfully tackle global future challenges.

1. What is science diplomacy?

The first two decades of the 21st century saw science diplomacy gain traction on the global agenda. The 2010 report by the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) titled New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy gave science diplomacy its first formal definition and established a three-pillar taxonomy:

  1. science for diplomacy: science as a soft power tool to improve international relations,
  2. science in diplomacy: using scientific evidence to inform foreign policy, and
  3. diplomacy for science: using diplomacy to support international scientific collaborations.

But today science diplomacy is facing a new challenge to adapt to both the speed of scientific progress and shifts in international relations, balancing the three following factors:

  1. the unprecedented pace of scientific and technological progress,
  2. the urgency with which global challenges must be addressed, and
  3. the complexity of global geopolitics and challenges to multilateralism and open international scientific collaboration

Learn more about Advances in Science Diplomacy on our Science Breakthrough Radar ® website.

2. Why should we care?

The world is experiencing breakthrough science and technological advances at an unprecedented speed. These discoveries will reshape how we view ourselves as humans, how we relate to each other in society and how we care for our environment. To prepare for this future, our current and future scientific, diplomatic, and business leaders need to understand and jointly promote anticipatory Science & Diplomacy as an effective tool for a renewed multilateralism.

To establish anticipatory science and diplomacy as a topic, a mindset and new professional pathway, we must start with the way we train our current and future leaders across all sectors: in STEM and social science fields, in national governments, in multilateral institutions, NGOs and in the private sector – to empower the current and next generation with a «multilingual» mindset in science and diplomacy.

3. What are we doing about it?

No actor alone has all the knowledge and competences needed to bring science anticipation to the centre of multilateralism; therefore, a framework Global Curriculum on Science Diplomacy will provide the mindset, knowledge, skills and practical tools to all stakeholders to help them navigate the science-diplomacy interface and foster boundary-spanning professionals and institutions.

Developing the Global Curriculum on Science and Diplomacy fulfils four objectives:

  • To develop a capacity building framework to empower the current and next generation of leaders with a «multilingual» mindset in science and diplomacy.
  • To coalesce Swiss and global actors interested in Anticipatory Science and Diplomacy around the ecosystem of International Geneva to enhance and scale current and new initiatives by disseminating the best content, skills and methods across the academic, diplomatic, business, NGO and IGO sectors.
  • To innovate on anticipatory science diplomacy topics (Science Breakthrough Radar®), tools and methods (Computational Diplomacy, Negotiation Engineering, AI as diplomatic tool)
  • To position Geneva and Switzerland as the global hub of Science and Diplomacy for Multilateralism


To implement this ambition and in alignment with our mandate to develop an instrument of anticipation and action for the future of multilateral diplomacy, in 2021 GESDA initiated the Geneva Coalition on Anticipatory Science & Diplomacy bringing together Geneva, Swiss and global institutions to bring science anticipation to the centre of multilateral decision-making.