Sir Paul Nurse and fellow panellists discuss resilience to extreme weather at the Commonwealth Science Conference in 2014

Sir Paul Nurse and fellow panellists discuss resilience to extreme weather at the Commonwealth Science Conference in 2014

In 2014 the Commonwealth’s scientists came together for the first Commonwealth Science Conference in nearly 50 years in Bangalore. It won’t be quite as long a wait for the next one.

Last month, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta it was announced that the next Commonwealth Science Conference would take place in Singapore. The conference will take place from Tuesday 13 to Friday 16 June 2017.

Singapore is a fitting choice to host the next conference.

According to a recent study in Nature, it spends more per researcher than China, Japan, South Korea, Australia or New Zealand, and has a higher proportion of research published in Nature Index journals than any of these countries.

Its status as one of the success stories in global science and innovation was recognized with the award of the Society’s prestigious King Charles II medal to Tony Tan in 2014. President Tan is only the fifth recipient of the medal, which is awarded to foreign Heads of State or Government who have made an outstanding contribution to furthering scientific research in their country.

Finally, in its 2015 Prosperity Index, the Legatum Institute rated Singapore the most successful economy in the world.

It has also been a leading member of the Commonwealth. In 1971, Singapore hosted the first ever Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, chaired by its first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew. Lee, who passed away earlier this year, was instrumental in reshaping the Commonwealth into its current form, a postcolonial association of independent states. That meeting resulted in the Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, the first time the core values and beliefs of the Commonwealth were explicitly outlined.

These have since been updated in the 2012 Commonwealth Charter, and include democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, the rule of law, and good governance. All of these are conditions that are conducive to a supportive environment for science.

The Society is delighted to be working with the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore to deliver the next conference.

The objectives of the 2017 meeting are to celebrate excellence in science throughout the Commonwealth; to provide opportunities for cooperation between researchers in different Commonwealth countries; to inspire young scientists, students and pupils; to build understanding about policy issues of common interest; and to encourage scientific capacity building in Commonwealth countries. It is anticipated that around 400 scientists from across the Commonwealth will attend. The conference will also be accompanied by an ambitious programme of outreach with schools across the Commonwealth in partnership with the British Council.

It will focus on themes that are of vital importance to the Commonwealth; food security; climate change and rising sea levels; energy and carbon storage; and emerging infectious disease. Resilient cities and digital science will also feature (see Emma Cavan’s blog on the Commonwealth People’s Forum on resilience here).

The Society’s Treasurer, Professor Tony Cheetham, will co-chair the conference, along with Professor Teck Seng Low, CEO of the NRF. More details of the conference will follow as the programme takes shape.

We are looking forward to convening another successful celebration of the Commonwealth’s outstanding science in around 18 months time.

In the meantime, young scientists or students from around the Commonwealth looking for support should consider looking into the excellent range of scholarships and early career schemes offered by the Association for Commonwealth Universities.