Last week I attended the Global Science Forum (GSF) in Lisbon, Portugal, where I served as the U.S. Party Representative. The GSF is an arm of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), headquartered in Paris, and OSTP has been active within GSF since its inception in 1999, leading U.S. agencies on a wide range of international science policy and programmatic issues.
The meeting, which included more than 40 delegates from 16 member nations—including my U.S. colleague Vanessa Richardson of the National Science Foundation—provided a forum for the design of pragmatic solutions to such problems as how to maximize the mutual benefits of engaging in scientific and technological cooperation with developing countries; how best to organize international collaboration on clinical trials; and how best to model shared risks on a global scale. The discussions made clear that many of the greatest challenges faced by us in the United States and by our colleagues in other countries are truly global in nature and can only be solved through international cooperation. GSF is a unique and potentially powerful mechanism to connect scientists and policy makers across the world to help us meet those challenges.
As part of that process, I presented a brief update from OSTP on U.S. science policy as well as a more detailed report on an emerging GSF initiative led by the Smithsonian Institution called Scientific Collection—or "SciColl," as it is known in the GSF. SciColl is being developed as a key international coordination mechanism that will facilitate the creation of an online, interoperable system for sharing digital images of objects in collections around the world, with an initial emphasis on collections relating to the topics of climate change, human diseases spread by animals, food security, and human migration. OSTP has been an advocate for this initiative and a strong supporter of the GSF in general, as it supports the President's vision of revitalizing international partnerships in science, technology, and innovation to address the greatest challenges we share in energy, environment, health, and global security.
Jason Rao is a Senior Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology