How can US and its partners make better use of science diplomacy?
Diplomacy is a process of international engagement for the purpose of pursuing and securing national interests. Thus, in my opinion, science diplomacy is a process in which scientific collaboration is a mechanism of pursuing nation’s security and variety of other interests.
As long as national interests are clearly defined, communicated to America’s partners and linked to specific science and technology priorities, science diplomacy will be a valid and to some extend effective form of diplomacy. Clarity and directness are appreciated because very often partners have shared national interests that could be achieved through collaboration.
Let us assume that US national interests are coupled with science and technology priorities on the international stage. In such case, one can argue that one dollar spent on science diplomacy can save the US hundreds of dollars in avoiding military, security, humanitarian or environmental crisis in the long term.
This brings us to my next point, possibility of having global science and technology priorities. I do not rule out possibility of group of countries having shared, regional or global science and technology priorities. During this workshop we have heard about some of them – research of Antarctica, deep sea bed, climate change, epidemiology, water issues, etc.
What make a process confusing, at least for me, is the mismatch between America’s internal science, technology and innovation priorities and external science and technology priorities. Again, it is natural for any nation to have its own national priorities. At the end of the day it is national competitiveness that nations are measured against. I would go one step further arguing that nation’s internal STI priorities are economically driven, whereas external ST priorities are politically driven. I believe that clarity in defining and differentiating these two sets of priorities may help cooperation to be more productive.
Perhaps such gap could be somehow narrowed by process of coopetition, a process where parties shared cost without fear of loosing competitive advantage. As budget austerity measures becoming as global phenomena as climate change, transparent and honest dialog between different scientific communities across the globe is needed to understand what ST and STI programs and projects could continue to move ahead.