The Inception Meeting of Science20 (S20), the science engagement vertical of G20, was held at Puducherry from 30-31 January 2023.
A total of 15 foreign delegates from 10 overseas G20 countries – Australia, Brazil, China, European Union, France, Republic of Korea, Türkiye, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States of America participated in the meeting. The total number of participants was about 60 including 45 special invitees from India.
The S20 Engagement Group was initiated during Germany’s Presidency in 2017. It presents policymakers with consensus-based science-driven recommendations formulated through task forces comprising international experts.
Science for inclusive & Sustainable Development
India, as the President of G20, aspires to make the grouping an “inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented” platform. The agenda of S20 reflects this principle in the planning and use of science for inclusive and sustainable development.
The theme of S20 for 2023 is “Disruptive Science for Innovative and Sustainable Development.” Within this broad theme, the deliberations will focus on three sets of issues;
– Clean Energy for a Greener Future
– Universal Holistic Health: Cure and Prevention of Disease
– Connecting Science to Society and Culture
The consultations regarding the same have begun with the Puducherry meeting under G20 India. The next three subject meetings will be held in Agartala (Tripura), Bangaram Island (Lakshadweep) and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), and will conclude with a Summit meeting in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) later in the year where policy recommendations will be provided to the G20 Leadership.
“The grand challenges of today and tomorrow – climate change, pandemics, energy security, water management, food shortage – cannot be addressed by one country alone. It requires the cooperation of many different nations so that experiences and breakthroughs in science and technology can be shared with each other,” Prof G Rangarajan, Director, IISc remarked during the Inception Meeting.
TV Mohandas Pai, entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and Chair of Manipal Global Education gave a stimulating and thought-provoking talk on the theme of disruptive science for inclusive and sustainable development. In his address, he elaborated upon the major technologies that will be disruptive in the coming years such as;
– Artificial Intelligence
– Alternative Energy Sources
– Personalised and Precision Healthcare
– Smart Materials and Meta Materials – and how they could dramatically impact our lives.
The highlight of the Inception meet was the circulation of a 100-page Indian proposal, prepared by the S20 Secretariat, IISc Bangalore, that expanded on the themes outlined by Mohandas Pai. The proposal covered major scientific issues that confront the modern world and outlined methods of disruptive science and disruptive technologies that would at the same time be globally sustainable and holistic.
It was noted that there was unanimous approval by the foreign delegations of the identification of three major themes of energy, health and society/culture by India. A foreign delegate also commented that it was a matter of pleasure for S20 that the word “culture” was being mentioned for the first time in an official communique of the S20. Moreover, there was widespread acceptance of the term “disruption” in the context of the “sustainability” of scientific and technological innovations during the S20 Meet.
The broad recommendations in this 100-page document will be focused and sharpened in the three succeeding subject meetings such that a refined document can be finalised in the Summit meeting in Coimbatore in July.
Each session was followed by remarks and discussions among the delegates from G20 countries. The event ended with concluding remarks by the Co-Chairs from India and Brazil.