However, each of the 216 breakthroughs brings risks as well as opportunities, because they contribute to our evolving understanding about what makes us human, how we are going to live together and our relation to the planet. These risks are already debated by citizens globally, as shown in Section 2.
One of the risks that comes with these 216 breakthroughs is that people around the world could miss the opportunities for development and well-being that the breakthroughs might be able to bring. However, that risk can be mitigated by anticipation and honest brokering about what is cooking in the labs.
This is the purpose of our rolling annual GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar, a tool that facilitates an important political debate about the Radar topics without pre-empting any conclusion that might come out of it.
Ultimately, the necessary conclusions must be drawn by politics and diplomacy in charge at national and international scale, after debating with citizens, entrepreneurs, NGOs and the scientists themselves. In that sense, this Science Breakthrough Radar is primarily an information tool to assist discussion and, ultimately, decisions.
The annual Geneva Science and Diplomacy Summit, which has its inaugural meeting following the release of the Radar, is another tool, this one designed to take the pulse of diplomacy and accelerate discussions on what to do and how to cope with the science breakthroughs presented by the scientists.
In doing so, we move from scientific anticipation to anticipatory science diplomacy.
Here we enter the action and impact part of the process that the Breakthrough Science Radar introduces, with the primary aim of being honest brokers of such a process. This will enable the international community to respond more effectively and more quickly to emerging and future challenges, and to help multilateralism adapt to the acceleration of science and consequently to the evolution of the world.
This first requires the discussion to be contextualised. Therefore, in this section, we go a step further and introduce reflections about the significance of the Radar’s breakthrough predictions, how they interact with diplomacy and how they relate to the challenges of the 21st century as described first in the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (and more recently in the new UN Secretary-General Common Agenda for the Future released on September 10, 2021).
This section builds bridges between science anticipation, global societal challenges and a renewed multilateralism. This is a necessary step in order to ensure that science anticipation can ultimately benefit the global community.
The opening essay from the Science Breakthrough Radar on Getting Value from Science Anticipation highlights the need to create a common language between all disciplines and communities through a continuous dialogue with society. Then “Anticipatory impact on people, society and the planet” provides the views of the global scientific community consulted – as informed citizens – on how breakthroughs in their respective fields will affect those three existential questions.
Short essays from Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and GESDA Diplomacy Forum Chairman Michael Møller discuss the authority of politics in global affairs and the transition to a renewed multilateralism. These pieces are key to understanding how science anticipation can be used for the common benefit of humankind. Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of GESDA’s Board of Directors, explains what the Covid-19 pandemic can teach us about anticipation in diplomacy.
Following on from that, four case studies display the demand side, explaining how science anticipation is already used in practice by international organisations, and their hopes and expectations about its future.
Finally, “What’s next – Opening the discussion on 16 initial topics of interest for diplomacy” presents the 16 topics coming out of the Radar as subjects of debate in the first Edition of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit. This helps catalyse discussions and enable common actions by the diplomatic community along with the scientific, impact and citizen communities. By doing so, the Summit convenes an extended audience and provides it with a kind of Anticipatory Situation Room for multilateral discussion and action. The Summit thus links two key features of GESDA methodology:
The second edition of the Radar due to August 2022 will report on the development of this discussion and actions among the actors of multilateralism.