Previous Fora / 2009


Science and ecosystem services – sustainability for nature
Science and technology foresight and innovation policy for sustainability
Science and youth
Science diplomacy
Science funding in a changing global economy
Mobilizing Policy for Science/Science for Policy to address global challenges
Women in science


Science and ecosystem services – sustainability for nature

Facilitators: Julia Marton-Lefčvre and István Láng
Rapporteurs: Katalin Czippán and Tibor Faragó
Speakers: Brendan Mackey, Angela Cropper, Reiko Kuroda, Mathis Wackernagel, Dennis Meadows, Natalia Lukina

The session on Science and Ecosystem Services – Sustainability for Nature was organized in an innovative, interactive fashion, and attracted a wide range of participants from many countries and many generations. The session was co-chaired by Professor István Láng, former Secretary General of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Julia Marton-Lefčvre Director General of IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The session began without words – simply music and beautiful pictures showing the wealth and the vulnerability of nature. In their opening remarks the two co-chairs reminded participants that the images showed only a tiny slice of the complexity of nature and that our lives are inextricably linked to biodiversity, and ultimately its protection is the very basis of our survival. They also stressed the important role of science in understanding biodiversity and the responsibility of scientists to communicate their knowledge to all, and in particular to policy makers so that the best decisions are made about our planet's future. The International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 should provide an opportunity for deeper understanding and actions.

We also learned about the National Council for Sustainable Development, established a year ago by the Hungarian National Assembly to provide advice on all issues linked to sustainability. The Council's first report analyzes Hungary's status based on indicators of sustainable development, and presents a vision for transition to a sustainable future.

Participants then heard two excellent keynote presentations given by Professor Brendan Mackey, of the Australian National University and Angela Cropper, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Brendan Mackey spoke about Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Climate Change and reminded us of the importance of viewing the Earth as a system. He noted that the average person does not understand the ways in which human health and well being are utterly dependent on a healthy Earth system. He referred to recent reports by the Convention on Biological Diversity which explain how biodiversity at all levels and scales gives the Earth system and local ecosystems both resilience and a capacity to adapt. He spoke about ecosystem services, as set forth in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), explaining how we human beings are reliant on our ecosystems for food, water, control of pests, natural hazard mitigation and bio-cultural values. In referring to the link to climate, he reminded us that to solve this problem we of course must reduce our atmospheric emissions from burning fossil fuel, but we must also avoid disturbing the stocks of carbon found in terrestrial ecosystems such as forests. He had 3 recommendations for us for focusing our efforts to communicate these issues with citizens and decision-makers: i) the MEA framework for linking ecosystem services to human well-being; ii) the proposed planetary boundaries framework presented in a recent paper in Nature by Johan Rockström and colleagues and iii) the need to promote sustainability science. Brendan Mackey also reminded us of the important role of ethics in the choices that we must make individually and collectively to achieve sustainability.

Angela Cropper's address on Involving Society in Valuing Ecosystem Services stressed the importance of economic valuation for policy making. She also reminded us of the MEA conclusion that our ecosystems have degraded more extensively over the past 50 years than in any comparable period in human history. She then described 5 on-going initiatives to inform policy makers about the importance of Nature to our society and in particular to economic processes. Notable among these is The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Study (TEEB), and the plans for setting up a mechanism to link biodiversity and ecosystem science with policy, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), similar to the science-policy mechanism of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These efforts all point to the need to educate everyone in valuing ecosystem services so that we can apply this knowledge in our public and individual decision-making.

The keynote presentations were followed by a lively set of questions as well as examples of actions undertaken in various participants' countries.

We then had a panel discussion in which Reiko Kuroda and Patricia O'Campo-Thomason from the International Council for Science outlined the various ICSU efforts to link science and policy, aimed at transforming policies and practices. The latest ICSU Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society was set up with this specific objective.

Mathis Wackernagel, the founder of the Global Footprint Network reminded us that the average human's ecological footprint is 2.7 global hectares, while there are only 2.1 global hectares of biologically productive area per person available on the planet. To live like some of us do in the developed world, we would need 7 planets to support us.

Professor Dennis Meadows demonstrated the need for systems thinking by challenging us to play a new biodiversity game he has designed. He showed us 13 connected triangles and asked us to imagine that they were 13 different species. When we removed one of the triangles we understood that in fact several more had also disappeared – demonstrating that the system of species is inextricably linked. I confess that we did not do very well in this game – clearly we need more practice in internalizing the connectivity in the Earth system.

The last panellist, Natalia Lukina, from the Centre for Forest Ecology and Productivity in Russia reminded us of the important services we all get from forest ecosystems which provide habitat for more than half of the world's known terrestrial plant and animal species. Forests also play a significant role in the global carbon cycle and provide most of the world's accessible freshwater. She demonstrated the recent significant changes in forest cover in Russia, explained that forests also provide important economic values, and that some 300 million people worldwide depend on forest ecosystems for their subsistence and survival.

After the panel presentations participants gathered in four groups to explore in depth the issues from the afternoon. There was clearly a great deal of interest in our topic as we had difficulty in stopping these discussions, even after a very long day. Some of the main conclusions of these groups were as follows:

  • The importance of integrating social and natural sciences was highlighted as was the need to seriously consider changing our lifestyles to lessen our pressure on ecosystems and unsustainable use of natural resources.
  • Thinking holistically was also encouraged, and it was further suggested that harmonizing the specific objectives of all the international environmental conventions under an umbrella treaty would help avoid the present fragmented approach and support a more integrated valuation of ecosystems and the services they provide.
  • Taking the example of forests, the importance of involving local people in decision-making was stressed, as was the need to put a just value on the services forests give us.
  • The issue of better communications was raised and it was suggested that as more than half of humanity lives in urban areas, we should also focus on urban and peri-urban ecosystems, which people can more readily experience and better understand.

In the final wrap up of this session, participants agreed that information about biodiversity and ecosystems must become an important part of education and communication programmes, reaching all parts of society, and that ethical and equity issues about the conservation and sustainable use of our natural resources must permeate all our considerations and actions. It was suggested that the messages from our session, and indeed from the Forum itself, should be communicated to the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change as well as to the important Biodiversity Conference to be held next year in Japan. And finally, it was agreed that each of us would return to our homes with a new respect for Nature and a determination to reduce our own footprints on the environment.


Science and technology foresight and innovation policy for sustainability

Facilitator: Yonglong Lü
Rapporteur: Jiariu Wu
Speakers: Penny D. Sackett, Jiarui Wu, Linxiu Zhang, Hiroshi Nagano, John Boright, Robert Schlögl, Tracey Elliott

Dr. Yonglong Lü of Chinese Academy of Sciences chaired this session, and 6 speakers from China, USA, UK, Australia and Japan gave their presentation to about 80 audiences, while one speaker, Dr. Robert Schlögl of Max-Planck Society, did not present during the session.

As the title of session indicated, 4 of 6 speakers focused on the science and technology foresights by the government and scientists of different countries, including Australia, Japan, USA and UK, while other two speakers from China present their foresights on biomedicine and education in details, respectively, based on the science and technology roadmap to 2050 by Chinese Academy of Sciences.

We can see a clear set of messages delivered from these presentations: all of them are concerned the grand global challenges such as climate change, energy and health, although the people from different countries have their foresight views about the future picture differentially from each other. Based on this consensus, it is an important question addressed by audience and discussed during this session: how to integrate different expertise and policy-makers of different countries to foresight these global issues at the international level but not simply stop the foresight at the level of individual countries.

Another important issue was addressed and discussed during this session is how to encourage the participation of young scientist for foresight the science and technology. Australia speaker provide one good example of Young Scientist Forum for exploring this possibility. So far this kind of works has highly relied on senior scientists and policy-makers, young scientists might have their different opinions and views for their future.


Science and youth

Facilitators: Gaëll Mainguy and Péter Csermely
Rapporteur: Mandë Holford
Speakers: Catherine Césarsky, Raphael Adesiyan, Jenny Baeseman, Marin Dacos, Balasubramanian Ramani, Zvi Paltiel, Franz Mönks, Máté Oláh

My name is Mandë Holford. I am an Assistant Professor from the City University of New York and the American Museum of Natural history. The comments I will share with you today were prepared in collaboration with my colleagues Friederike Grote and Meredith Crosby, a postdoctoral scholar at Yale University School of Medicine. I will report on the Science and Youth panel. Youth is relative term, you are as young as you feel, and forever young if you embrace creative ideas and necessary change.

Our session, Science and Youth, was offered concurrently with the Mobilizing Policy for Science and Science for Policy session, and the Science Diplomacy panel. In many ways young scientists at the crossroads of topics of these two sessions.

The science policy that is beneficial to the youth is one of active engagement and the science diplomacy strategy would be centered on dissemination. Our task is to disseminate scientists as envoys, both tenured experts and emerging scientists, to champion the features of science that Bruce Alberts, Philip Campbell, Kerri-Ann Jones, and others mentioned: namely, integrity, objectivity, and constructive criticism Together, these adjectives build the science temper as we've heard it refer to.

Particularly the Science and Youth session displayed the breadth of programs and means of engagement for young and early career scientists. Dr. Cesarsky began the session by reminding us of the wonder and power of scientific endeavor. Her presentation of the universe in which we reside is a clear metaphor for the challenges facing youth in science, namely there are many more questions than we have answers to.

One question in particular posed by Raphael Adesiyan was where is Nigerian's place in the scientific community? Raphael spoke with passion for pursuing science and passion for building a local community of Nigerian scientists. He issued a challenge to see a Nigerian scientist named as a Nobel Prize winner in the next 20 years. This challenge is not achievable without changes to the science policy in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Less than 1% of Africa's GDP is spent on research. Until African governments change their policies toward funding science and buy into the notion that nurturing and fostering local talent in science and like-minded fields, the economic sustainability they are eager for will never be achieved. One cannot but feel compelled to see the ways in which choice affects life decisions. If emerging scientists such as Raphael have to make the decision between pursing a career in science with little support from their government or community, and pursuing an alternative career that will immediately address their economic needs, the local community of active, engaged, and successful African scientists will not be achieved.

The idea of fostering local communities was discussed not only in our session, but also in several sessions over these three days. Building talent driven communities requires active engagement from the government and the community. In our session, Peter Csermely discussed the science talent nurturing programs that have been underway for the past 15 yeas in Hungary under the National Talent Support Council. In particular the Genius and Talent programs developed by the Hungarian government includes four key ingredients: 1. Content (solid foundations in science), 2. Assessment (a means for establishing what is working and where the students are going) 3. Information spreading (any Hungarian youth and their parents can obtain information about the programs available to them, these are not closed off elitist programs.) and 4. Talent days (places where the youth can showcase their skills).

In order to build local capacity in communities, the best inroads are through education, communication and engagement. As Gaell Mainguy pointed out, information that is not accessible in an open network has limited use. In our session of science and youth open science networks that are not only challenging the rules of academic recognition and funding, but are also offering great potential for collaborative research and creativity were presented. One in particular, the APECS network represented by Jenny Baeseman, illustrates the power and potential of the Internet via open sourced networks. APECS combines established and emerging researchers via a mentorship network that ensures that young scientists are able to find opportunities; brings them into key positions so that they will be seen and given credit, fostering activities that allow young scientists to progress in their careers.

In the discussion portion of the session, an audience member asked Jenny Baesman where is there a place for young scientists given the increasing life expectancy of senior researchers? Jenny's response brilliantly illustrates why buy in from national governments and changes in science policy toward funding science is essential. Jenny responded when you train a scientist you're not only training an academic, as not all scientist become laboratory researchers. Scientific training opens doors for the individual not just to academia, but also to administrative positions, in government, policy, industry, and beyond. At the same time, those pursuing science should not feel as though they must leave science for lack of opportunities in science.

The take home message from the Science and Youth panel is recognizing that the next generations of scientists are global community members, digitally literate and eager to engage in an open and welcoming scientific environment. While we young scientists are deeply concerned about the current state of affairs, we are eager to take on the challenge as being ethically responsible scientists in shaping a sustainable future for the generations to come. I leave you now with a motivating request, Joshua Mandell did the same at the end of his presentation, I want you to think about your professional activities and consider how you can mentor or support a youth or early career scientist. Systematic sustainability starts locally.

Thank you for your attention.


Science diplomacy

Facilitator: Vaughan Turekian (AAAS)
Rapporteur: Tom C. Wang
Speakers: Dan Bitan, David Clary, Hassan Dweik, Nina Fedoroff, Yoshinori Katori, Norman Neureiter, Roland Schenkel

  • Science diplomacy is a broad concept that can cover science in diplomacy, diplomacy for science, and science for diplomacy. The latter, international science cooperation as an instrument for building positive relationships between countries and societies was the focus of the session. This form of science diplomacy can be conceptualized as a confluence of scientific-driven goals of access and diplomacy-driven goals of influence.
  • The basis for science diplomacy is the shared language of science and the shared curiosity of scientists that make it easier to bridge cultural and political diversity.
  • Historically, science cooperation has contributed to building ties between countries that have limited political ties, in current conflict, or were former adversaries through concrete actions. Examples include: post-World War Europe and post-Cold War Europe; U.S.-Japan in the 1960's; U.S.-Soviet Union and U.S.-China in the 1970's; and Israel-Palestine today.
  • The goals of science diplomacy are varied depending on the interests and priorities of the engaging countries and organizations: such as, addressing global challenges, providing mutual security assurances, improving global competitiveness, supporting economic development, regional integration, conflict resolution, and peace-building.
  • Addressing common issues and shared problems that are rooted in science and technology (from managing water and energy resources to stemming disease to ensuring security) offer opportunities for engagement, confidence-building, partnerships, and can sometimes evolve into Track II diplomacy. Regional issues shared by close neighbors are particular opportunities, as are global issues that motivate countries to work together all over the world.
  • Challenges for implementing science diplomacy include mechanisms, level, and coordination of funding; coordination of foreign policy and scientific agendas; asymmetries in capabilities; domestic opposition; and identification of the appropriate partners.
  • Organization of foreign ministries to utilize science diplomacy has evolved in the last decade: e.g., science adviser positions have been established in the U.S. State Department, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and, as recently announced, European Commission; and official conceptualization of science diplomacy in Japan. Science adviser roles in these foreign ministries are varied, from building scientific literacy and capacity within the ministry to promoting international cooperation and developing partnerships with stakeholders.
  • The role of multi-lateral organizations, the private sector, and diaspora are also important.
  • Science diplomacy can be a part of the efforts, but not sufficient alone, to overcome conflict and enmity between countries; political will and leadership are essential.


Science funding in a changing global economy

Facilitator: Alan I. Leshner (AAAS)
Rapporteur: Vaughan Turekian
Speakers: Tateo Arimoto, Wilhelm Krull, Chuan Poh Lim, Marja Makarow, Dong-Pil Min, Peter Nijkamp, Sir George K. Radda, Henna Virkkunen

    1. The global economic collapse has refocused national efforts and investments in science.
    2. There is recognition that research is central to the innovation process.
    3. In short, concerns about the economy have been good for science funding... so far. Budget shortfalls and deficits especially in the developed countries could threaten this.
    4. At the same time, greater need to build networks, at national, regional and international scales to leverage funds and human resources.
    5. But, we need to do a better job harmonizing and coordinating efforts in both public and private sector investment – especially in working with developing countries.
    6. Example – European foundations do not fund endowments of institutions in Africa, U.S. foundations can; need to better coordinate actions to best use limited funds. Meetings like WSF should determine if there are mechanisms to do this.


Mobilizing Policy for Science/Science for Policy to address global challenges

Organisers: UNESCO and ISESCO
Facilitators: Mustafa EL-TAYEB, Director, Science Policy and Sustainable Development Division, UNESCO, and Diana MALPEDE, Science Policy Division, UNESCO
Rapporteur: Diana MALPEDE, Science Policy Division, UNESCO

The session brought together representatives of different parliaments, governments, scientific communities, private sector, and the media as a clear message that the concerted effort of all these stakeholders is essential to mobilizing policy for science-science for policy.

The programme of the session addressed the following main topics: changes that have taken place in the science and science policy systems in different regions such as Latin America, Africa, Arab region and Asia and; the contribution of scientific institutions, particularly the academies of sciences, in mobilizing science for policy; the multi-stakeholders governance of science; national parliamentary experiences in dealing with science and technology legislation; the mechanisms for strengthening the governance of science and technology systems by enhancing dialogue between policy makers, scientists, the private sector, media and society; the importance of science education and science awareness.

The session consisted of three interrelated segments.

The first segment was devoted to the presentations of the Status of Science and Technology by the representatives from Latin America, Africa, Arab Region and Asia.

Speakers of this part of the session included:
Mr Marco Antonio Zago, President of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Dr. Moneef R. Zou'bi, Director General Islamic -World Academy of Sciences (IAS), Jordan, Ms Ruth Ladenheim, Secretary of Planning and Policies in Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, Argentina; Mr. Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, Director General of the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology, Mexico, Prof. Crispus M. Kiamba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Kenya, Dr Teiichi SATO, Honorable Director, Tokyo National Museum, Japan

The review of the regional experiences in science policy demonstrated that changes for research and innovation have evolved, to address national concerns and, increasingly, global challenges such as energy supply, climate change, water crisis, etc. Several countries introduced comprehensive policy frameworks to guide developments in science, technology and innovation. In a number of countries, government institutions and agencies have been restructured in an attempt to improve the governance of innovation systems.

Many countries have introduced new or revised national plans for science, technology and innovation policy, and a growing number of countries have established targets for increased R&D spending.

The second segment was devoted to the contribution of the Academies of Sciences and the Roles of the InterAcademy Panel (IAP) and InterAcademy Council (IAC) in mobilizing science for policy.

Speakers included:
Prof Bruce. Alberts former president, US National Academy of Sciences and former IAC Co-Chair, Prof. LU Yongxiang, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and IAC Co-Chair and Prof. M. Hassan Executive Director of TWAS and President of African Academy of Sciences

The session focused on the need to mobilize scientists fro policy to address critical global challenges such as climate change, food, water and energy supplies and environmental management, challenges which present enormous obstacles to sustainable development. Science has indeed a crucial role to play in the understanding of such challenges as well as in identifying and devising possible solutions.

The third segment of the thematic session was devoted to the Multi-Stakeholder Governance of Science. Prof David Cope, Director, UK's Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, Houses of Parliament, United Kingdom,Hon. Patrick Amuriat Oboi, MP,Uganda and Hon. Ulla Burchardt, MP, Germany made presentations on the role of the Parliament in mobilizing policy for science. Mrs Nadia El-Awady, President, World Federation of Science Journalists, Egypt, talked about the role of the Media, Mr Olivier Piou, Director General, Gemalto, France focused on the role of Business and Mr. CHUNG Yoon, President, Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity (KOFAC) Korea presented the experience of Korea in science education and popularization.

Participants discussed how the advances in S&T challenge research and development policies, with the view of assessing the role of public research organisations, the private sector, the media and society. They highlighted the difficulties that some scientists have in communicating effectively with the public, the media and decision-makers, as well as in translating knowledge into understanding because of the specificity of scientific language. The question of how parliamentarians obtain scientific information was widely discussed. The important role of technology assessment and foresight in the context of governance was underlined. The experiences of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) within the UK Parliament and the experience of the parliament of Uganda were presented as mechanisms for organised, unbiased technical advice to parliaments. In the course of the discussion on increasing the awareness and understanding of science by parliamentarians and the public, the role of specialised media was stressed.

Several key issues were addressed. These included:

  • the importance of a regional perspective in STI policies, implying the need for regional cooperation and exchange of experiences;
  • the role of the scientific community, in particular the academies of sciences in designing STI policies;
  • the major constraints in science and technology decision making process;
  • the mechanisms that have to be identified in parliaments to deal with new challenges faced by science;
  • the communication and constructive dialogue between scientists and decision makers;
  • the provision by scientists of accurate information about research facts and their social and ethical implications;
  • the responsibility of journalists and media in shaping public opinion on S&T related issues;

Participants agreed on the need to strengthen the policy-science interface and to improve communication and collaboration between scientists and policy makers, bridging the difficulties inherent in their different roles. On the other hand, scientists should take into account the information needs of policy makers, focusing research on questions that are relevant to societal issues and including these in the agendas of national research institutions. Policy makers, on the other hand, need to actively seek dialogue with scientists, communicate their information needs and support the interaction between policy and research in relevant disciplines that are necessary to define policy-relevant research programmes.

Furthermore, since the direct participation in public or collective problem-solving and policy-making has never been so widespread and far-reaching as today, Parliaments serve to provide a major public space – a visible forum for debate and discussion of issues of concern to many citizens and citizen groups, for legitimising public policies and laws, for reconnecting science and society as a means of coping with public fears and concerns. Parliaments are the most legitimate institutions to represent and defend the common interest.

Main conclusions:

  • Mobilizing Policy for Science and Science for Policy to address the global challenges is a must in view of the challenges the world faces and the above proposals to mitigate those challenges.
  • Science must inform policy and policy is necessary to guide science.
  • Science and policy complement each other in pursuit of solutions to global challenges; without good data, there are major constraints to the analysis of productivity trends and the design of appropriate strategies and policies for science and technology.
  • There need to be mechanisms of communication between scientists and researchers intended to build consensus among themselves on global challenges.
  • On the other hand a line of communication must be developed in order for policy-makers and the general public to be informed on the achieved consensus by the scientific community.
  • There is clear evidence that climate change, energy shortage, global health, and food security remain outstanding as global challenges that must be addressed.
  • What is required is the necessary interface between science and policy to ensure that the necessary evidence based advice guides policy in managing global challenges
  • Science education and science awareness are condition sine qua non for science policy interface
  • Parliaments have a critical role as legislative organs in S&T, dealing with the task of adapting S&T laws to rapidly changes of the S&T systems as well as societal expectations and concerns.


Women in science

Facilitator: Dame Wendy Hall CBE (UK)
Rapporteur: Valeria Csépe (Hungary)
Speakers: Beatriz Barbuy (Brazil), Ana Maria Cetto (Mexico), Valéria Csépe (Hungary) Wendy Hall (UK), Julia King (UK), Teresa Lago (Portugal), Sudha Nair (India), Penny Sackett (Australia)

The 20th century has witnessed a remarkable shift in the type of jobs available and a decreasing need for manual labor has boosted female employment in every sectors. However, these changes have not been uniform across all sectors and the within sector changes were and are very different as well. Science and technology is based on knowledge and creativity, and this general feature is in contradiction with the equality of women slow in coming. The awareness raising efforts of scientists need to target those with influence in science, education research management, research funding and policy making. However, the changing role of achieving and well recognized women is more than just awareness. Women of high achievement in science have a particular responsibility when it comes to changing attitude, practice and policy. The role of women in science is not a simple gender issue, and especially not a minority question. The participants of the Women in Science Thematic Session of the Budapest World Science Forum 2009 reported on and discussed issues that need systematic efforts to readdress this issue. The session's participants have agreed on the importance of highly visible examples of good practice of countries and continents represented by the speakers. It is agreed that having equal roles in science and technology is based on achievement. This is the prerequisite of taking part in decisions and contributing to solving specific and general problems of the world facing sustainability at risk.

The main issues discussed and agreed to have in focus are as follows.

1. The leaky pipe

It is hard to believe, that even in the most developed countries having a leading role in science and technology the upper levels of the occupational ladder are lacking women. Women graduated science and technology count for only one fifth of full professors in public research institutions and the same is valid for the private sector. We even have a name for this phenomenon, the leaky pipeline. We have leaking pipes everywhere and "plumbing" is the secret to have progress. In many countries we are succeeding in attracting more young women to study science and engineering. However, we will loose them if they do not get support and they are not able climbing the career ladder. We need to find out the main reasons for this common problem and work out strategies to try to stop the leaks! We need a common strategy in changing this landscape and one approach is relying on reports like the one from Australia. Although many EU projects gave a big impetus to reports showing how the career scissor of men and women in high positions opens (see figure below) and how slowly leaking of the pipe stops, there are no comparisons including a lot bigger number of countries. All the speakers of the thematic session encourage as many countries as possible to produce similar reports in order to compare data on for a larger scale comparison and put efforts into finding the right solutions.

    Proportions of men and women in a typical academic career, student and academic staff, EU 25, 1999-2003

Source: Women and Science – Statistics and Indicators – She Figures 2006

2. Mentoring

Mentoring came out very strongly in all presentations of the session. Many of the sessions' participants have mentioned that mentors made a big difference (could be male or female) at certain points of their career. It is important that we encourage more mentoring schemes (possibly internet based) - particularly for developing countries

3. Science education

One of the core issues of the 21st century is how do we meet the expectations we have about a knowledge based society and knowledge based governance. From this point of you science education is crucial. A bigger role of scientists in influencing the common practice of schools especially in science is crucial. The participant representing different disciplines (physics, astrophysics, engineering and neuroscience) encourage female scientists to be involved to a larger extent in convincing educationalists to readdress many issues of their recent practice used in science education. We encourage all scientists to be critical and proactive in getting back control when changing methods used in our schools is far from evidence-based.

4. Confidence building

Women do not have the confidence to ask for things that would help them in their career - confidence building is hugely important. But at the same time we must encourage the male-dominated institutions/academies to think more about inviting women to play key roles/speak at major events. Female researchers often have a different view on the same topics and they also may use different strategies in solving problems (local or global) and getting to consensus based decisions.

5. Recognition

Many speakers of the session reported on recent analysis of the publication habits of women as well as on the role taking differences in accepting nomination for high positions. From this point of you recognition, especially awards got much mention. There were many instances when awards changed the participants' life and enabled them to progress to the next stage of their career associated with higher work load and bigger responsibility.

What should we do?

The general conclusion of the session is that we need more than ever integrated approach, international collaboration reporting on and discussing good examples, as well as to look for dissemination possibilities while taking into account cultural differences. We should consider the role and future of science in influencing decisions made about the world's most serious problems. These actions of course do not contradict to working on better solutions for promoting of equal pay, working conditions, and carrier opportunities and vocational training for women and men, as well as that of family friendly workplaces. It's time to involve more female scientists in having right questions and searching for sound answers.