The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) on the stage of ESOF 2020

Policy for Science
Sustainable Development Goals
IAP presented a new statement and a new communiqué, and contributed to the event’s scientific and press activities

ESOF2020 won its bet. This is how organisers sum up the latest EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), the biennial, pan-European, general science conference dedicated to scientific research and innovation  that took place in Trieste, Italy, from 02 to 06 September 2020. The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) was an ESOF partner organisation, and was present onsite with an exhibition stand (shared with TWAS and OWSD) and its staff contributed to the event’s scientific, press and promotional activities.

On 3 September, Peter McGrath moderated the TWAS/IAP session 'Permanent Insecurity: A Science International strategy to support displaced and refugee scientists and science students'.

Later that day an IAP press conference presented the new IAP Statement ‘A Call to Action: Furthering the fight against falsified and substandard medical products’ (available online at, a document that supports the call for a comprehensive, well-resourced, international effort to address this devastating problem.

“The right of people to health is unalienable: manufacturing, carrying, stocking and selling falsified and substandard medical products, including drugs, vaccines, medical devices, and other medical products are crimes. Due to their severe consequences on public health and individual healthcare, these crimes must be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent possible,” said Yves Juillet, member of the French National Academy of Medicine, who co-chaired the working group responsible for preparing the statement.

The session ‘Beyond the lab: career paths between science and policy’, organised in collaboration with S4D4C and EFSA, took take place later in the afternoon, and IAP Coordinator Peter McGrath joined the panel to trigger a discussion on alternative career opportunities for professionals with a scientific academic background.

"The training of a Phd gives you what you need to understand how science works, how to deal with data and uncertainty, and teaches you skills that you can bring in a science diplomacy career," explained McGrath (you can read more about this session on the S4D4C website).

On 5 September, ESOF's press conference room hosted a virtual meeting with Wafa Skalli, Chair of the IAP Science Education Programme (SEP). Skalli is a mechanical engineer based in Paris, focused on translational research in clinical biomechanics, orthopaedics and musculoskeletal modelling. She also actively promotes access to secondary school and scientific graduate studies for rural girls. Her efforts, along with the "Relais Instruction education Maroc" where she is the founding president, have made it possible for more than 2,700 children to attend preschool.

"Education is among the most powerful levers for development," she said, highlighting the fact that "innovative, inquiry-based learning methods" and science centers and fablabs are key to improve education and science literacy in Africa.

ESOF then offered the chance to present the new IAP Communiqué on the Development and Distribution of Vaccines against COVID-19. This analysis highlights the fact that while public health tools such as physical distancing, wearing of masks and proper hygiene, along with testing and tracing, have been shown to help control the spread of COVID-19, it is widely recognized that vaccines will be essential to our ability to control the current pandemic, protect against likely future outbreaks and allow populations to return to their daily lives. Still, any COVID-19 vaccine must be safe, efficacious and accessible to everyone, and cutting corners in the race for a vaccine, anti-vaxxers, and vaccine nationalism are all a public health threat.

“The race for a COVID-19 vaccine must not be allowed to hurt the public: while there is a pressing need to accelerate this process to the greatest degree possible, there are also grave dangers if corners are cut. The standard phases of clinical vaccine trials must proceed with appropriate scientific rigour, in particular the collection of the robust evidence needed to demonstrate large-scale safety and efficacy,” said IAP President Volker ter Meulen.

Some 2500 people registered for ESOF2020; among these, more than 1000 participated in person and 1400 people connected remotely every day. On average each event was attended online by around 300 people, and the event saw 4300 overall virtual visits. ESOF2020 was in the global spotlight: online visitors came from 52 countries across 5 continents.

"All the conditions exist to build something destined to develop also in the future," said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who attended the event's closing ceremony.

"Trieste is the Italian city with the highest number of researchers per number of inhabitants. Here are concentrated scientific centers of absolute international importance. So today is an important and symbolic moment to also launch this future perspective; we must work on technological innovation, on the most advanced technologies, and Italian scientists are at the forefront of this. There are four fundamental, priority objectives of research in Italy: to favor complex, integrated multidisciplinary research; to strengthen basic research; to promote 'mission-oriented' research; and to bring research closer to training, since the labor market demands skills that are always up-to-date, always adequate to the challenges" he added.

“ESOF 2020 has provided an innovative hybrid organisational model, something that should not be taken for granted. On top of that I would like to highlight the scientific relevance of the discussions made in the past days,” said Stefano Fantoni, ESOF2020 Champion, at the event's final press conference.

“I really hope my call to create an international institute on sustainability, based in part on the ideas heard in these days, will be answered,” he added.


Announcing Institution
IAP Communicatons Assistant