While the Royal Society President is in Beijing for a series of meetings, another meeting is taking place in Dalian, China. This is the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of New Champions – the foremost global business gathering in Asia. This meeting brings together more than 1,500 participants, including young scientists, from 90 countries to share strategies and solutions and discuss global issues and risks.
One of the attendees at the WEF meeting was nominated by the Royal Society. Duncan Cameron was the UK co-chair of the recent UK-China Frontiers of Science meeting, at which 50 of the best and brightest early-career scientists from the UK and China met to discuss the latest advances in research in their disciplines and others, and to highlight the big questions at the frontiers of their field. This was the first of a series of bilateral Frontiers of Science meetings between the UK and China, demonstrating the importance both countries place on promoting collaboration between their early career scientists.
Duncan talks about his experiences in Dalian, highlighting how much of a contribution young scientists can make to industry and social society:
“From the outset, attending the World Economic Forum as a young scientist felt somewhat incongruous. However, my few days at the World Economic Forum ‘Summer Davos’ summit, in Dalian, China, certainly made me re-evaluate my position. Before attending the WEF, I asked myself, what will a plant biologist really be able to contribute? As it turns out, rather a lot more than I had thought!
As a scientist, I believe we need to connect with the world outside of our academic borders, but we have few fora that facilitate this interaction with industry, policy makers and global leaders. The discussions I have had as part of WEF showed me that industry and social society has a real appetite for the opinion of scientists. This makes sense in light of a recurring theme of the WEF, that innovation underpins the foundations of industry, and that we, as scientists, are the drivers of these key innovations. As a young scientist, I felt my views were heard and taken far more seriously than I had thought. Global business leaders actively sought out the opinions of the young scientist delegation but the interactions at the WEF were by no means mono-directional. I, and indeed all of the young scientists at the meeting, gained a unique insight in to the worlds of business and politics and the individuals that lead them, making key contacts and in so doing, ensuring the future impacts of our ideas and research.
I will leave Dalian with a renewed optimism for the role of scientists in solving global issues, confident that we, as a community, have a voice, and that our views are taken most seriously by the shapers of international business and politics.”