Global science

OECD Observer

Big Science is global. Research and development in medicine, technology, engineering, chemistry, biology and physics have long since overrun national borders, in part because no single government has the time, money or indeed skills that such work demands.

Projects, from the International Space Station to building particle colliders and light sources, or semi-conductor research: all thrive on global co-operation.

It was not always so. Governments, scientists and investors have often been wary of each other, with co-operation tending to take place on an ad hoc basis. That is why the OECD Global Science Forum was created: to provide a venue for inter-governmental consultations among scientists and policymakers.

Started as the Megascience Forum in 1992, its goal was to strengthen scientific cooperation on Big Science projects, like underwater studies of ultra high-energy neutrinos, international electron accelerator facilities, nuclear physics and global biodiversity. Deemed a success in 1999, its mandate was expanded as the Global Science Forum, the aim being to address more basic issues as well, like research on short-pulse lasers, pooling resources for neuro-informatics and helping to resolve issues regarding outer space airwaves between radio astronomy researchers and telecommunications satellites.

Twice a year oday the Global Science Forum brings together science policy officials from OECD countries to identify and maximise opportunities for international co-operation in basic scientific research. The Forum establishes special-purpose working groups and workshops to perform technical analyses, and to develop findings and recommendations for actions by governments. In February 2003, it convened in Tokyo to discuss its long-term Study on International Scientific Cooperation, a 10 to 15-year programme to plan and implement new multinational research projects.

©OECD Observer No 237, May 2003

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