During World Science Forum 2019, delegates from all parts of the research community and from all over the world issued a declaration emphasising commitments to ethics and responsibility for science.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1999 UNESCO World Conference of Science, the World Science Forum returned to Budapest in November this year to be hosted once again by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. This time under the main theme 'Science, Ethics and Responsibility'. Co-organisers were UNESCO, the International Science Council, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Academy of Sciences, the Interacademy Partnership, the European Academies' Science Advisory Council and the Global Young Academy. CESAER was represented by its Advisor for Research & Innovation, Mattias Björnmalm. Some impressions and photos from the conference are available via #WSFBP2019.
During the four days of this invite-only event, scientists, policymakers, science communicators and other delegates from society and industry discussed the evolving role of science in society, ultimately culminating in the 'Declaration of the 9th World Science Forum' which was adopted by the delegates on the 23 November 2019.
This declaration follows the 1999 UNESCO Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge, which has been a foundational document during the last two decades.
The “Declaration of the 9th World Science Forum” (full text here) was developed into four parts:
- Science for global well-being. The value of science cannot be measured solely by its contribution to economic prosperity. Science is a global public good with the ability to contribute to sustainable development and global well-being.
- Strengthen global standards in research integrity. In the world of globalised science there is a growing need for the harmonisation and promotion of research integrity which includes common codes of conduct and their enforcement. This should apply especially for rapidly developing areas of science and research performed by transnational entities.
- Fulfilment of academic freedom and the human right to science. While acknowledging that the principle of academic freedom is supported and promoted by science organisations globally, there is little consensus on the conditions that enable its fulfilment. In an evolving era in which science is increasingly dependent on research infrastructure, research funding, and top-down policy agendas, the concept of academic freedom must be revisited. Academic freedom must operate at every point in the research process. It must encompass the autonomy of researchers and research institutions, access to peer-reviewed scientific knowledge and data without systemic barriers, access to research infrastructure and funding, and the freedom to set bottom-up research agendas in all fields of science, including social sciences, and the freedom to communicate scientific results.
- The responsibility and ethics of communicating science. The pace of scientific discovery has quickened, but barriers to scientific information and the benefits of research remain. The increased complexity and volume of scientific information requires new methods of data validation and research dissemination. While the application of artificial intelligence opens new paths for the management of scientific research and data, it also raises concerns about privacy, control and the use of personal data. Such developments alter the landscape of access to knowledge and present challenges in transitioning to novel publishing models and the application of new communication strategies.
The delegates represented all parts of the research community and diverse parts of broader society from all across the globe. The Declaration aligns well with CESAER's mission, aims and values, and represents a strong and broad reaffirmation of core values in science, highlighting their continuing importance in our rapidly evolving world.
Mattias Björnmalm, PhD