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Day 3 highlights - 2021 Commonwealth Science Conference: Science for a resilient future

Conference

Event video

February
252021

18:00 - 20:30

Location

The Royal Society YouTube channel

Overview

The third Commonwealth Science Conference will take place virtually from 22-26 February 2021, co-organised by the Royal Society and the African Academy of Sciences. The conference is funded via the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The theme of the conference will be “Science for a resilient future”, with three main sub-themes:

  • Developing resilient energy systems – climate resilient infrastructure; decarbonising energy systems; and a circular economy for the Commonwealth 
  • Nurturing resilient ecosystems – challenges and opportunities for the blue economy; trajectories, challenges and solutions for biodiversity; and adaptation and mitigation challenges for coastal states in the era of climate change
  • Building resilient societal systems – pandemic preparedness before and after Covid-19; climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and a ‘just transition’ to a sustainable Commonwealth

Day 3 highlights include keynote talks and panel discussions: 

  • Dr Tollullah Oni, Clinical Senior Research Fellow, Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge on Health-proofing our future; Future-proofing our planet
  • Panel discussion: Science and policy - lessons from the pandemic and its impact 
    Chair: Peter Gluckman, Chair, International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA); co-chair, Commonwealth Science Advice Network (CSAN); President-elect, International Science Council
    Speakers
    Sir Patrick Vallance, UK government Chief Scientific Adviser and co-chair CSAN, UK
    Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, Director-General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) 
    Associate Professor Vernon Lee, Deputy Director for Communicable Diseases in the Singapore Ministry of Health, Singapore 
    Professor Mona Nemer, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, Canada 
    Professor Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, India 
  • Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies on Science for a sustainable future
  • Panel discussion: Developing and strengthening networks of ECRs to address global development challenges 
    Chair: Chai Lay Ching - Chair, Young Scientists Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia 
    Speakers:
    Lucy Stewart, Chair, Royal Society Te Apārangi ECR Forum, New Zealand
    Dr Karly Kehoe, President – College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Royal Society of Canada
    Joanes Atela, Convener, Africa Research & Impact Network, Nairobi
    Stuart Minchin, Director General, Pacific Community

Attending this event

  • The event will be livestreamed on the Royal Society YouTube channel on Thursday 25 February 2021 at 6pm GMT
  • The event is free to join, and there is no registration required
  • Live subtitles will be available

For all enquiries, please contact csc@royalsociety.org

Abstracts

Health-proofing our future; Future-proofing our planet

Dr Tolullah Oni, Public Health Physician Scientist and Urban Epidemiologist, and Clinical Senior Research Fellow, Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK

Between 2000 and 2050 it is anticipated that there will be an increase in growth of urban communities globally, particularly on the African and Asian continents. This presentation outlines the link between urban growth, disease trends and health inequalities, and sets out the importance of reimagining the urban. Dr Oni introduces the notion of health and resilience foresight as an important approach to bringing the future into the present and thinking more long term about human and planetary health, as well as approaches from her own research that she uses to bring the future into the present.

Science for a sustainable future 

Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

The creation of an interdisciplinary dynamic discourse around resilience and sustainability and an interface between historical and medical sciences is required to decolonise the sciences. This presentation discusses the concepts of resilience and sustainability and considers the link between colonisation, racial inequality and injustice in how climate change and Covid-19 are experienced by citizens of small island states in the Caribbean.

Science and policy - lessons from the pandemic and its impact

Chair: Peter Gluckman, Chair, International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA); co-chair, Commonwealth Science Advice Network (CSAN); President-elect, International Science Council

As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world in the last year, discussions around the politics of science advice gained an unprecedented level of prominence. Many national and international debates on combatting the virus centred around issues such as levels of uncertainty, the accuracy of modelling, policy trade-offs, and the need to synthesise and act on a wide range of input across disciplines in the natural and social sciences. While these debates played out in the context of the pandemic, and the varying national and regional responses to it, their implications are much wider. As the world considers the prospects for a sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and the need to take urgent action on a number of other critical global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity, a robust and effective science-policy interface has never been more important. This debate will bring together leading science advisers and decision makers from across the Commonwealth to discuss the key lessons from the pandemic for the relationship between science and policy, and how early career researchers can ensure the translation of their research into science advice to policy makers to best effect.

Developing and strengthening networks of ECRs to address global development challenges

Chair: Chai Lay Ching - Chair, Young Scientists Network-Academy of Sciences Malaysia 

As the growing and interlinked crises of climate change, biodiversity and sustainability become ever more urgent, the pressures on the next generation of scientists to keep track of these impacts, identify and refine solutions, and influence policymakers to take coordinated action, are growing. Developing new, and strengthening existing, international networks of early career researchers from a wide range of perspectives and across a growing range of disciplines will therefore be essential. In this discussion, leading early career researchers from across the Commonwealth, with input from at least one senior policymaker, will consider what the next generation of researchers need most in order to address these challenges in as effective, coordinated and equitable way as possible.

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