Towards a Global Consensus on Open Science

Open Science is a global movement aiming to make science more accessible, democratic, transparent and beneficial for all. Driven by unprecedented advances in our digital world, the transition to Open Science allows scientific information, data and outputs to be more widely accessible and more readily shared with the active engagement of all relevant stakeholders.

By encouraging science to be more connected to societal needs and by promoting equal opportunities for all, Open Science can be a true game-changer in pressing planetary and socio-economic challenges and bridging the science, technology and innovation (STI) gaps between and within countries.

To advance the Open Science discussion in the global context, it is important to take stock of the different regional perspectives. For this reason, on July 6, UNESCO organized the virtual meeting “Towards a Global Consensus on Open Science. Inputs from Europe to the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science”, in collaboration with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries, based in Trieste, Italy, and the ESOF2020.

The recent response of the scientific community to the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how open science can accelerate scientific solutions for a global challenge. The genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was posted in an open access repository and made freely available for all researchers. Many international publishers have made COVID-19 research content freely accessible and technology leaders have joined in creating the needed infrastructure for open access databases, containing valuable information on scientific and technological advancements.

In spite of the encouraging open science actions in response to COVID-19, and the growing number of national and regional initiatives, there is currently no international framework nor common policy guidance for Open Science globally. UNESCO, as the United Nations Agency with a mandate for Science, is the legitimate global organization enabled to build a coherent vision of Open Science and a shared set of overarching principles and shared values. That is why, at the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, 193 Member States tasked the Organization with the development of an international standard-setting instrument on Open Science in the form of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science.

The Recommendation on Open Science is expected to define shared values and principles for Open Science, and identify concrete measures on Open Access and Open Data, with proposals to bring citizens closer to science and commitments facilitating the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge around the world.

Europe has been at the forefront of Open Science for over a decade. The Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access have been the first open science initiatives in the region galvanizing the Open Science movement. The open access focus of Horizon 2020 projects and the high capacity infrastructures for open access such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) that enable storage, management, analysis and re-use of research data, across borders and scientific disciplines are successful examples of international cooperation for promoting Open Science.

An online regional consultation for Europe - part of a series of regional consultations aimed at building a global consensus on open science - will provide a platform to collect inputs from European scientists, science funders, policy makers, innovators, publishers and other concerned stakeholders to the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. The consultation date is July 23, the deadline for registration is July 17.

The outcomes of the consultations will be presented in the context of ESOF in September 2020.

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