NRF CEO Participates in Open Science Roundtable of Belt and Road Conference on Science and Technology Exchange in China

NRF CEO Participates in Open Science Roundtable of Belt and Road Conference on Science and Technology Exchange in China

On November 07, 2023, the Open Science Roundtable, one of the roundtable sessions of the Belt and Road Conference on Science and Technology Exchange, was held successfully in Chongqing, China. Guests from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Botswana, the Netherlands, and domestic participants gathered to focus on the theme of Breaking Down Barriers to Open Science and Promoting Scientific Exchange and Collaboration, and engage in in-depth discussions.

China’s General Secretary, Xi Jinping, at the Opening Ceremony of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, pointed out that China is willing to work with all parties involved to deepen Belt and Road partnerships of cooperation and usher this cooperation into a new stage of high-quality development. Open science advocates the principles of “participation, inclusiveness, sharing, cooperation, openness, and transparency”, which align with the “Silk Road Spirit” of the Belt and Road initiative.

The conference was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, organised by the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and co-organised by the Chongqing Municipal Science and Technology Bureau. Leaders and representatives from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) attended the meeting and delivered speeches. Liu Xiwen, the Director of the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, chaired the meeting. More than 150 participants made presentations at the event.

Our CEO, Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, joined the conference as a speaker on behalf of the Director General of the Department of Science and Innovation, Dr Phil Mjwara. In his presentation, Dr Nelwamondo shared the vision of Open Science 2063 for Africa and highlighted Open Science as a crucial means to achieve the integration of Africa.

Liu Weidong, Director of the Bureau of International Cooperation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, mentioned in his speech that openness is a fundamental principle of science and an essential requirement of our era. In 2021, UNESCO approved the Recommendation on Open Science, providing a common direction for the global practice of Open Science, including international cooperation. The CAS has made significant progress in areas such as the collaborative construction and sharing of scientific data resources, open access to scientific information, and international cooperation on major scientific research infrastructures.

The global governance of Open Science is entering the fast lane, and the discussions at this forum on the development models of global Open Science are of great significance for strengthening knowledge exchange, scientific information cooperation and sharing, open participation, and international scientific and technological cooperation among diverse knowledge systems.

Ms Ai Sugiura, Programme Specialist for Natural Science at the UNESCO Multi-sectorial Regional Office for East Asia, said in her speech “The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science has played a crucial role in promoting policies supporting Open Science globally. Learning from China’s model and good practices in implementing the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science and promoting China’s achievements regionally and globally will contribute to the sustainable development and deepening of the Open Science movement. At the same time, UNESCO is soon to release its UNESCO Open Science Outlook 2023, which will provide a global assessment of the current status and trends in Open Science. The UNESCO’s vision for Open Science is to build a world that is open, collaborative, promotes peace and development, and leaves no one behind in the realm of science.”

The conference guests shared practices in the development of Open Science in China, Africa, and the European Union, focusing on promoting regional scientific development through Open Science, standardisation and construction of infrastructure for Open Science, open academic exchange, transitioning to open publishing, open data, and international cooperation. The discussions delved deeply into key issues such as pathways to overcome barriers in Open Science.

Ron Dekker, Project Director Open Science in Belgium, presented the standardisation of workflows and interoperable platforms supporting scientific research and innovation in the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). Zhang Zhixiong, Deputy Director of the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, introduced the systematic development of scholarly communication in China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost of UCL Library Services at University College London, shared UCL’s good practices, challenges, and development roadmap in open publishing transformation.

Other speakers, including Ma Juncai, Director of the National Microbiology Data Center at the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Arnout Jacobs, President-designate of Greater China; Springer Nature; Joseph Mwelwa, founder of Joint Minds Consult, Botswana; Benjamin Meunier, University Librarian at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library; and Zhang Shiyun, Director of the Institute of Science and Technology Information at the Beijing Academy of Science and Technology, continued to address topics such as Open Access, Open Data, the value of Open Science, and Open Science governance. The participants further discussed how to strengthen knowledge exchange, scientific information cooperation and sharing, open participation, and international scientific and technological cooperation across different knowledge systems.

The conference convened experts from various countries to discuss Open Science and reached a consensus. This consensus includes promoting Open Science and academic exchange, implementing UNESCO’s Recommendations on Open Science, and forming a mechanism for open knowledge sharing. The conference also called on all parties to jointly undertake Open Science actions, progressing from the consensus on Open Science to policies and then to actions. It emphasises the need for more collaboration and discussions in various aspects, such as long-term strategic planning and development; sustainable infrastructure construction, inclusive training, incentives; and the cultivation of a culture and mechanism for building Open Science.

The conference, in collaboration with experts from various parties, put forth several recommendations for the development of Open Science. Firstly, it suggests that countries propose Open Science models in line with UNESCO’s recommendations on Open Science and tailored to their national conditions. This involves formulating medium- to long-term development roadmaps for Open Science. Secondly, it recommends the issuance of explicit mandatory or incentivising policies for open access to scientific papers, along with the development of practical and feasible open access solutions. Thirdly, it encourages the building of national and cross-regional Open Science infrastructure, exploring new paths for international cooperation. Lastly, it advocates for the establishment of a multi-stakeholder Open Science governance mechanism to facilitate the effective transformation of Open Science into innovative capabilities.

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