2021 International Highlights

Throughout the past year, the RSE International team has continued to work toward the overarching goal to both foster and nurture partnerships able to efficiently address global challenges impacting all levels of society. From preparing for a post-Brexit international environment to tackling the intertwined issues of Human Rights and climate change, we are committed to maintaining the RSE’s status as a key actor in the Scottish international landscape.

Below are some of our 2021 highlights. For further information, please contact Sasha Carcassonne at scarcassonne@therse.org.uk


Creating Connections Roundtable

In June of 2021, the RSE took part in the Royal Society’s expert-led roundtable, addressing The Consequences of Brexit for Scientific Collaboration around the World. This event brought together representatives from civil society, the Scottish Government, and Scottish Universities to discuss how the science, industry and political communities can address the challenges of a post-Brexit collaboration landscape. The roundtable brought together 35 stakeholders from 20 different organisations and private sector representatives, testifying Scotland’s will to remain an active member of the international scientific community.

International Evidence Roundtables

The RSE held two International Roundtables as part of the Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission to gather evidence on a “Rapid review of international evidence on Covid-19 communication and public engagement in April 2021”. In a collaboration between international and public engagement teams, we convened 12 countries and commissioned 8 geographical studies – Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Ghana, New Zealand, Taiwan, and South Africa.

Scotland’s Ecosystems and Infrastructure in Data and AI

The RSE, along with Connected Scotland partners, convened a high-level meeting (May) co-hosted by the relevant French, German, Hungarian and Netherlands Embassies on the theme of ‘Scotland’s ecosystems and infrastructure in Data and AI: fostering collaboration with Europe’. Partners explored Scottish-EU collaborations and opportunities for the Data and AI sector with reference to Scotland’s AI Strategy. The dialogue continues around influencing the development and use of trustworthy, ethical, and inclusive AI.

52 stakeholders attended from Scotland, France, Germany, Hungary, and the Netherlands


Human Rights and Climate Change Symposium

In October, the RSE partnered with the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina to produce the Human Rights and Climate Change Symposium, in the run-up to the COP26. The Symposium brought together a panel of 10 experts over two days, including the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovi? and former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment David R.Boyd as keynote speakers. Overall, the event attracted 475 individual registrations from 31 countries. The engagement from the general public around this event reflects the necessity to keep the issue of climate change in relation to human rights at the forefront of future discussions.

Human Rights work

RSE Human Rights Committee

As a member of the UK Human Rights Committee, the RSE participated in the November meeting, aiming to formulate efficient responses to the current humanitarian concerns, including the plight of Afghan Academics. The UKHRC now includes all 7 of the UK Academies in its membership, along with expert input from the Council of at Risk Academics (Cara). This year, the RSE successfully responded to 5 high profile academic-at-risk cases.

Pan-African Relations

Africa Working Group

First initiated in 2019, the RSE Africa Working Group (AWG) is composed of 9 RSE Fellows with the stated goal to establish mutually beneficial connections with African partners. In 2021, the AWG reached out to the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) to lay the foundation for future partnerships. The AAS is a pan-African body composed of 502 fellows, aiming to be present across the 35 countries of the African Union. AAS-RSE partnership presents the potential for the RSE to build enduring relations in a region of the world where its presence has been lacking until now. The RSE Historical Scoping Research Project was also successfully completed under the remit of the AWG.

International Policy Responses

In 2021, the RSE responded to two internationally-focused inquiries: the UK Government’s International Development Strategy Call for Evidence, and the Scottish Parliament Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee Inquiry Into the Scottish Government’s International Work. It is the first year in which the RSE International’s remit included the provision of policy responses on international matters.

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