Benefits of Australian membership of the International Science Council and international scientific unions

Science International cooperation International agencies Australia

The economic and scientific benefits to Australia’s membership of major global science organisations have been outlined in this report released by the Australian Academy of Science.

The report also highlights the important role that science has as a soft power asset in diplomacy.

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, former Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister, launched the report in Canberra in his role as President-elect of the International Science Council (ISC). The Australian Academy of Science represents Australia on the International Science Council. 

The report shows that Australia benefits as a member of global science organisations by:

  • receiving a direct economic return—estimated at $118 million from 2000 to 2017— through hosting scientific union meetings in Australia and other activities
  • receiving indirect benefits such as the invaluable opportunities for Australian scientists, especially young scientists, to collaborate with international leaders in ways that greatly accelerate delivery of the long-term economic benefits of scientific progress for Australia
  • providing opportunities for Australian perspectives to contribute efforts to use science to solve global challenges
  • enhancing Australia’s international scientific profile and reputation.

Australia has felt the absence of an international engagement strategy for science, technology and innovation with long-term resourcing.

Such a strategy would enable Australia to:

  • maintain participation in key international decision-making science bodies
  • support bids to attract international scientific conferences to Australia
  • contribute to bilateral and multilateral partnerships and research programs where they align with research priorities, or serve our diplomatic objectives
  • allow Australia to meet its agreed Sustainable Development Goal obligations
  • develop a program for early- and mid-career researchers to establish partnerships with international leaders in their field, building networks that will be beneficial to Australia for decades to come
  • expand the network of science counsellors and attachés in Australian embassies in priority countries and regions around the world
  • target programs to provide scientific support to assist Australian foreign affairs and trade policy objectives.
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