THE HAGUE, The Netherlands — 9 October 2017 — The second workshop series on “Policy and Diplomacy for Scientists: Introduction to Responsible Research Practices in Chemical and Biochemical Sciences” was held in Trieste, Italy from 12-15 September.
The workshop, co-organised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and the Inter Academy Partnership (IAP), helped scientists explore the link between science, diplomacy and policy.
TWAS Executive Director, Prof. Romain Murenzi, expressed in his opening statement that the participants should gain “a greater understanding of the wider role that scientists play in our global society – one that goes far beyond the lab bench, the field and the clinical trials or the classroom”.
OPCW’s Senior International Cooperation Officer, Dr Sergey Zinoviev, urged participants to share the knowledge acquired from the workshop and to liaise with their National Authorities as a way to strengthen the science-policy discourse. Dr Zinoviev also pointed out that ‘’the fundamental role of science education in mitigating chemical threats and the misuse of science lies not only through education, but also through trust-building and cooperation which are the key messages of this workshop”.
The programme covered key themes about the role of education and ethics in science and other disciplines, and the role of international organisations in fostering cooperation and enforcing policies. Interactive sessions explained the roles of stakeholders and the importance of consensus-building process.
Participants discussed concepts and best practices in science, the application of diplomacy and sustainability in science and industry, and the modern safety and security practices in chemical and biological labs. Selected participants highlighted urgent problems in their States Parties that require the attention of policy makers: local initiatives to promote ethics, safety and security, and cooperation in science and technology; and their work teaching responsible science.
The speakers of the workshop included members of OPCW’s Advisory Board on Education and Outreach, Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit representatives, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), TWAS, IAP, Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), the University of Trieste and OPCW Technical Secretariat officials.
The 20 attendees from 20 States Parties were selected to participate because of their interest in raising awareness and nurturing a culture of responsibility in issues related to the use of chemicals, such as dual use, and chemical safety and security. These participants included early-career PhD chemists, biochemists and medical chemists who teach and conduct scientific research.
Based on the positive feedback and the growing appreciation and interest from the science and technology community, this initiative is anticipated to continue.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over ninety-six per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.