The Dag Hammarskjöld Library (in the Department of Global Communications) and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) recently held the second global Open Science Conference under the theme From Tackling the Pandemic to Addressing Climate Change

Two thousand participants from institutions across the globe - including Open Science advocates, government officials, inter-governmental organizations, universities, publishers, librarians, and research activists - joined the three-day virtual conference through MS Teams Live, while another three thousand watched through UN Web TV.

The Open Science Conference was opened by Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, DESA.

In her keynote, Dr. Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, highlighted the need to avail open research in an inclusive and equitable manner and encouraged stronger connections between science and society.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has proven worldwide the urgent need for universal and equitable access to scientific knowledge, data, and information,” she said.

In his speech, Geoffrey Boulton from the Governing Board of the International Science Council, underlined the importance of addressing climate change with the same urgency as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What’s the difference between COVID and climate?” he asked. “There is no last-minute reprieve; no vaccine for the climate risk.”

Dr. Jean-Claude Guédon, of the University of Montréal, advocated for moving research out of print journals and publishing it instead on platforms that are built on open access and sharing principles.

These keynote speakers were joined by 34 presenters representing 27 countries.

Together, they engaged with participants and put forward stimulating ideas on what could be done to ensure that scientific research remains open for all.

A common observation by all speakers was that there is a need to address climate change with the same urgency as the pandemic. Climate research, therefore, must be pushed to open repositories. It is currently behind many barriers.

Maher Nasser, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications, closed the conference by saying: “Open science provides links and solutions that we need to consider more.”

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