International Science Council: Letter from the President

Dear ISC Members, Dear Colleagues, 

One year after the launch of the International Science Council (ISC), it is worth taking stock of how far we have come in putting into operation the Council’s ambitious vision and mission. The Governing Board (GB), which has met four times since its election in July 2018, has regularly communicated progress made and will continue to do so after each Board meeting; our latest Communiqué follows below. 

In the past year, the Council has continued to roll out an impressive set of scientific activities, has generated new partnership opportunities, and has responded energetically to requests for new engagements, including within the UN system. Many of these activities, which I encourage you to follow via the ISC website and our regular newsletters, demonstrate the steadily growing visibility of the Council, and attest to the interest of the wider scientific, policy and practice communities in supporting our vision of science as a global public good, and our mission to be the global voice for science. 

In addition, the ISC has interacted with members to develop an integrated ISC Action Plan, which will launch the Council on a new trajectory. This Action Plan, which members will receive shortly, integrates concrete strategies for the development and delivery of a largely new set of scientific activities in four domains of impact, as well as the Council’s work on outreach and engagement, freedom and responsibility, its regional presence, and resource mobilization. 

While maintaining and developing these efforts, the ISC achieved four additional milestones: 

  • The ISC governance system, including four new Standing Committees, and an Ad Hoc Committee on Dues is now in place 
  • The restructuring of the previous ISSC and ICSU Secretariats into a new Headquarters (HQ), as well as the integration of financial operations, has been completed 
  • The first two Patrons of the ISC have been appointed 
  • The role of a Special Envoy for Science in Global Policy has been created and is opening up new opportunities for the Council 

These achievements are all thanks to the intensity of effort and commitment of all my GB colleagues, of our CEO and her HQ team and the staff of our Regional Offices, as well as to the ongoing and, often, challenging reflections and feedback we receive from you, our members. 

We now move into a phase of implementing new ideas and new modes of operating. As we do so we will seek to expand further our engagement with members, widen our partnership networks and streamline essential functions. It is an exciting work in progress, and for its success we continue to rely on your support. 

The GB’s July 2019 Communiqué provides important information on two primary items of business, namely: the appointment of ISC advisory bodies and the conclusion of current ISC action planning processes. With regard to the former item, I sincerely thank all members who responded to our April 2019 call for nominations for the Council’s new Standing Committees, and all those who were willing to be considered for appointment. Faced with a substantial number of high-quality nominations and the need to ensure an appropriate balance, for example with regard to discipline, geographical area, and gender, there were some difficult choices that the GB had to make. 

In addition to addressing these two important items, the GB set aside time during its June 2019 meeting for a first exchange with Ismail Serageldin, one of our two newly appointed Patrons. Our CEO and Science Director have subsequently met with Mary Robinson, our other Patron. Both meetings have been extremely encouraging, confirming the undeniable value for the ISC in gaining access to the substantive advice and outreach support of individuals of this calibre. We are very grateful to Ismail and Mary for their commitment and look forward to working with them and also to finding opportunities for our members to benefit from their engagement with the Council. 

With warm regards, 

Daya Reddy 

ISC President