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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
So... what can we do about it?
The scientific emerging topics and breakthroughs at 5, 10 and 25 years presented in the Science Breakthrough Radar have been identified, discussed and described by scientists in their respective fields.
The Radar discussions do not consider the social contexts in which science takes place, nor how they relate to the grand societal challenges of the 21st century. They do not include reflections about the reality of politics, the broader geopolitical trends or the current status of multilateralism. They simply present a state-of-play of what is happening in the laboratories today and a neutral vision about what may happen in the future from the point of view of those who are working on this future every day in their laboratories.
Taking the Pulse of Diplomacy
Diplomacy, multilateralism, the role of states and the involvement of society are rapidly evolving. Science and technology are driving change but so are global challenges such as climate change, geopolitical tensions, migration, inequalities and nations’ efforts to achieve growth. In order to tackle these challenges, it makes sense to accelerate the use of the opportunities offered by advances in science.

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 Foundation brings Swiss and World science to the multilateral table as one global community and works with it to identify what will emerge from the laboratories in 5, 10 and 25 years’ time. This is an exercise that the scientific community does not spontaneously undertake, although it is commonplace in the political and diplomatic world, as shown by the UN's Agenda 2030 published in 2017. This is the specific contribution of science diplomacy in full bloom.
  • By doing this, GESDA, although an initiative of the diplomatic world, reverses its usual order of priority. The work does not start from the listed challenges or objectives of each international organisation, but from the scientific trends that are already at work in the world and independent of such challenges. It then looks at how these scientific developments can help the wider diplomatic world and all its stakeholders in its daily work.

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.