<< programme
International Scientific Co-operation

A Triple Helix 5 Workshop Proposed by:

Peter Senker, School of Cultural and Innovation Studies, University of East London
email: psenker@ipra.co.uk

Yoshiko Okubo

email: okuboy@attglobal.net

Alvaro de Miranda
email: alv@uel.ac.uk

The proposed Workshop will discuss three themes, on the basis of papers to be presented by Yoshiko Okubo, Alvaro de Miranda, and Peter Senker, the authors of the GLOSPERA Report (Global Systems and Policy Design for the European Research Area) completed for the European Commission in July 2004.

The first theme will be European scientific co-operation policy. The second will concern some dilemmas and paradoxes in relationships between globalisation and international scientific co-operation. The third theme will be international scientific assessment, with particular reference to the IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

European scientific co-operation policy: Yoshiko Okubo

Scientific research has moved gradually from individuals and small teams (little science) to a bureaucratised activity carried out in research laboratories and involving collaboration in teams (big science). The initial impetus towards international cooperation, dating back from the immediate post-World War II period, came from scientists involved in “big” basic science requiring resources that were beyond the capabilities of individual countries. By 1977, European cooperation programmes had been initiated in several areas including new sources of energy , biology, radiation protection, plutonium recycling and storage of radioactive waste. However, no effective links with industrial policy had yet been established. The pressures to establish such links became stronger as the world recession which followed OPEC oil price rises intensified after 1974 and resulted in increased international competition. By the 1980s, there was considerable concern in Europe about the technological “gap” between Japan, the U.S. and Europe, and European measures were designed to meet this challenge.

Two collaborative projects aimed at industrial competitiveness took root and eventually succeeded. The first was in the civilian aircraft industry. European governments had already conceded that national initiatives in this industry designed to increase competitiveness with the U.S. which dominated the world market were no longer viable. The Airbus project began with discussions amongst European governments, aircraft builders and airlines in 1966. These discussions led to the formation in 1970 of an international consortium, initially involving France and West Germany, later joined by the UK and Spain. Under French leadership, the project eventually gave birth to the Airbus family of aircraft. The first Airbus aircraft, the A300B, was launched at the 1969 Paris air show. Thirty five years later, in 2004, Airbus was vying with Boeing, the dominant U.S. manufacturer, for the position of the world’s leading civil aircraft manufacturer.

The second initiative was in space exploration with the signing in 1964 of the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) conventions. In 1974 ELDO and ESRO were merged and the European Space Agency (RSA) was set up. ESA has since run an impressive number of successful projects.

Recent European Union policy developments retain the primary objective of increasing European international competitiveness. The Workshop will discuss whether these initiatives place sufficient emphasis on the need to address social and cohesion objectives; and whether in the light of the recent entry into the EU of several new member states which are generally somewhat less advanced in terms of development than previous members.

Globalisation and International Research Cooperation: Some Dilemmas and Paradoxes: Alvaro de Miranda

It is generally assumed that globalisation is one of the main factors driving the growth of international research cooperation at the end of the 20th. century and the beginning of the 20th. However, research has shown that the recent growth of international scientific cooperation is due more to the interplay of the needs and interests of the main actors involved, scientists and national policymakers, than to globalisation. International cooperation initiatives result more from the interplay of foreign policy objectives of national policy makers with the needs and interests of scientists than from the need to solve global problems.

There is tension between scientists, who, ostensibly, are driven mainly by the need to “advance the frontiers of science”, and national policymakers who wish to ensure that investment in international research initiatives from national budgets will yield a juste retour to the nation and/or fit in with its foreign policy objectives.

“Top down” initiatives are originated by policy makers in response to policy aims. Research Programmes which have broad scientific aims and do not attempt to specify precisely the objectives to be achieved, or the scientific methodology for achieving them, are normally of this type. HFSP (the Human Frontiers Science Programme) and IMS (Intelligent Manufacturing Systems) are examples. “Big technology” projects also tend to fall into this category, “Bottom-up” initiatives are those originated by scientists. Projects which have well defined scientific aims and objectives tend to be of this type. For example, HGP (the Human Genome Project) was initiated by scientists driven by a vision of exciting, clear, scientific objectives. Funding agencies were attracted by its clear goals and promise of advances in fundamental knowledge, to be made freely available to scientists worldwide, which would facilitate important medical applications. There is a notable absence of public participation in the decision-making process for setting up international research cooperation.

The Workshop will discuss the barriers to the development of international research cooperation initiatives which would contribute to the solution of the increasing number of problems associated with globalisation. To what extent does the persistence of the ‘national interest’ hinder cooperation for the solution of global problems? What mechanisms could be developed to overcome the existing barriers? How could the decision making mechanisms be widened to include citizens as well as scientists and policymakers in order to democratise science and reduce public scepticism?

International scientific assessment: global warming, the IPCC and the Kyoto Process: Peter Senker
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was initiated by scientists who were concerned about the dangers of anthropogenic global warming, rather than by policymakers in search of solutions to world problems. The IPCC undertakes very little siceintific research itself : it mainly reviews and assesses existing research evidence in order to inform policy decisions. Together with the Kyoto Protocol which is based on the IPCC’s analyses, this comprises the most prominent current global policy initiative to counter environmental degradation thought to be caused by human activities. The IPCC’s climate predictions are based on computer model simulations on supercomputers with Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs). There is an IPCC consensus that global warming is an established man-made trend based on excessive emission of greenhouse gases - primarily carbon dioxide - and that if this is not reversed it will result in serious harm to the planet. If temperature increases occur, and sea levels also increase as fast as IPCC envisages, both could be seriously damaging.
Before the creation of the IPCC, the scientists who initiated it had already defined the threat of global warming, together with the broad lines of what they considered desirable responses to it. This served to establish the consensus on which the IPCC and the subsequent Kyoto process is based. Neither IPCC reports, nor the Kyoto process, were disrupted by the major scientific controversies that continued mainly outside the IPCC. The Second World Climate Conference in 1990 called for the creation of a global treaty. for on the basis of . A Convention outlining legally binding commitments for the parties to protect against climate change was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 (the Kyoto Protocol). This required a separate, formal process of signature and ratification by national governments before it could enter into force.

The Workshop will discuss the implications of the IPCC and the controversies surrounding it for debates and policies concerning serious world problems. It will also consider the adequacy and usefulness of the Kyoto Protocol - the principal policy measure developed as a consequence of IPCC’s activities – in relation to global environmental problems. As IPCC scientists themselves suggest, it is likely that the requirement for international scientific assessment will grow. Issues other than global warming, such as environmental pollution, AIDS, BSE, and genetically modified (GM) foods, are examples of problems from which benefits might be secured from internationally co-ordinated scientific assessment. In such contexts, it could become important to draw lessons from the IPCC/Kyoto experience.

Triple Helix Conference I Amsterdam, 1996 II New York, 1998 III Rio de Janeiro, 2000 IV Copenhagen, 2002 V Turin, 2005 VI Singapore, 2007 VII Glasgow, 2009 VIII Madrid, 2010 IX Stanford, 2011 X Indonesia, 2012 XI London, 2013
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