ZSI organises discussion on European and Canadian science diplomacy

Addressing global challenges together: science diplomacy as a strategic approach

Section: Research Policy & Development

Date: 16. November 2020

As coordinator of the project S4D4C (, Elke Dall (ZSI) has pulled together a panel for the 12th Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC 2020). The event is virtual and the organisers anticipate 2.500+ participants and presenters from five continents in more than 65 panel sessions. The event is an inclusive, non-partisan and national forum uniting stakeholders, strengthening dialogue, and enabling action with respect to current and emerging issues in national science, technology, and innovation policy. It takes place November 16-20.

Our session is in the track of “Science and International Affairs and Security” (session 469) on November 16 (Ottawa time 8:30, Brussels time 14:30) and brings together Izaskun Lacunza, Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology and Mitchell Young, Charles University, from S4D4C with Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen, University of Tromso and work package leader in our sister project InsSciDE, and Martina Desole, Agenzia per la Promozione della Ricerca Europea and coordinator of the ERA-CAN initiative as well as Remi Quiron, inaugural Chief Scientist of Quebec and the President of the three Board of Directors of the Fonds de recherche du Québec, Canada. The panel is moderated and organised by Elke Dall, Centre for Social Innovation and S4D4C coordinator and Lorenzo Melchor, Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, S4D4C partner.


Europe and Canada share many historical, economic, and sociopolitical ties. Both the European Union and Canada have a strong global presence based especially on their economic power, which is currently contested in the polarized world, thus we see a growing importance of their soft-power assets. The role of science, technology, and knowledge, is, although consistent, still not fully leveraged as compared to the hard power assets or other soft-power elements such as tourism or development aid. This is even though the range of international scientific cooperation between the EU and Canada is increasing steadily to the point that there are prospects for Canada officially joining the upcoming Horizon Europe.

The European Union has been promoting a global strategy with an increasing weight of science diplomacy and supported research projects which form a “EU science diplomacy cluster” focusing on the past, present and future of the interface between culture, science, technology, and international affairs. In this panel, two of these cluster projects will participate: S4D4C and InsSciDE. EU and Canada also practice intensive cooperation and programme level cooperation. In this panel, we bring practitioners of this cooperation and strategy/theory of science diplomacy together.

Global challenges are wicked problems that require (1) scientific and technical solutions, (2) multilateralism to broker global policy implementation, and (3) solid interactive spaces that facilitate knowledge exchange between both crucial dimensions. COVID-19 has embodied the perils of a global challenge that has suffered from a deficient multilateral response, at the expense of deep public health and socioeconomic crises across nation-states. This initial response by national governments contrasts with the increasing international scientific cooperation from national and international research and health organisations to understand the disease and develop a vaccine, eventually showing frictions between techno-nationalism and techno-globalism. While the global approach of science to the pandemics has not been able to foster a global coordinated political response, the crisis opens an opportunity to implement better cooperation between EU and Canada, better global governance mechanisms to tackle not only recurring outbreaks of this pandemic but also other global challenges, such as other infectious diseases, climate change, energy sources, etc. We make the argument that science diplomacy can foster global joint responses to global challenges. In this panel, we investigate how, and we have a closer look at EU-Canada relations, joint priorities and joint funding instruments.

If you would like to know more about the programme, visit There are several interesting sessions related to the CSPC 2020 Special Theme: Grand Challenges as well as other tracks that include: Science and Society; Science and Policy; Science, Innovation and Economic Development; Science and International Affairs and Security; Science and the Next Generation as well as two symposia: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Science; and Science Communication. The S4D4C associated partner, IIASA, also organises an interesting panel: The Importance of imagining the future: Horizon scanning, foresight and scenario mapping in a rapidly changing wicked world (ID: 130).

Please note that there are registration fees for participation in the conference (max. standard fee is 110 Canadian $, approx 70 euro), reductions are available for academics, non-profit, diplomats, students, trainees, post-docs, retired etc. and early-bird fees end on Sept 27 and there are also group discounts available – please check out to register.

Type: Event organised by other institutions

Organizer: Canadian Science Policy Center

Location: virtual

Website: ... -approach/

Involved ZSI Employees:

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Tags: Canada, international cooperation, science diplomacy

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