Miliband urges greater role for science in diplomacy

12 January 2010

Foreign Secretary David Miliband today called for a greater connection between the worlds of science and politics. He was speaking to top scientists from across the world, who have gathered for the InterAcademy Panel which is being hosted by the Royal Society as part of its 350th anniversary celebrations.

The Foreign Secretary said: “The scientific world is becoming inter-disciplinary.  But the biggest inter-disciplinary leap we need is across the boundaries of politics and science. On resource conflicts, global inequality, nuclear security and counter terrorism, science is our ally.  I hope this anniversary (350th anniversary of the Royal Society) opens eyes not just to how far science has come, but what we can do together in the future.” 

The Foreign Secretary highlighted Britain’s high standing in the worlds of science and diplomacy and commented on how science had already played a significant role in keeping lines of communication open during the Cold War.  He also praised the synchrotron light source project in Jordan which brings together scientists from across the Middle East including Israel, Iran, Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority.

Commenting on areas where science can play an increasing role Miliband said: “The development of commercially viable Carbon Capture and Storage mechanisms, or advances in the technology for low-carbon vehicles can have a major impact on our ability to forge the green revolution we need to avoid climate change. Genetic improvement of crop plants could rescue many millions from the endless cycle of poverty, hunger and violence that infects so much of our world. And in areas such as cyber-security, bio-defence or early warning systems for natural disasters, it is science that holds the key to our future security.”

The InterAcademy Panel brings together 103 of the world’s science academies to identify how science can help to tackle urgent global problems.

The Royal Society also today published a report which investigates the valuable role that science can play in international policy making and diplomacy. Findings are based on evidence gathered at a two-day meeting on ‘New frontiers in science diplomacy’, hosted by the Royal Society in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

View the speech