The Foreign Ministries Science and Technology Advice Network (FMSTAN) is a global web of science advisors with experience within countries’ Foreign Ministries.

It began in February 2016 with a meeting convened by the U.S. Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. This initial meeting involved the four S&T advisors to foreign ministers from Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States along with diplomats from twelve other nations: Chile, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Oman, Panama, Poland, Senegal, South Africa, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

A few months later, Senegal became the next member of FMSTAN. And in 2017, Oman and Poland joined the network.

This nascent global network is focusing initially on four areas to articulate the benefits of investing in internal S&T advisory capacity within foreign ministries to more fully complement external capacity:

1) Raising awareness about the importance of enduring S&T advisory capacity in foreign ministries;
2) Sharing best practices and lessons learned in building S&T advisory capacity;
3) Strengthening S&T advisory capacity in foreign ministries; and
4) Coordinating respective S&T diplomacy activities.

S&T advisors to foreign ministries are not necessarily experts on all scientific matters, but they understand science and know where to find the most appropriate expert on any given topic. They have the skills to explain evidence required for informed decision-making about foreign affairs, serving as evidence brokers in our increasingly trans-boundary world with constantly emerging complexities. They utilise their roles as evidence brokers to reveal options that contribute to informed decision-making by nations across the international landscape.

©Science Diplomacy Center, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Photographer: Alison Graham

Membership to the FMSTAN network is by invite only, but select resources developed by the members will be made available to the INGSA network as teaching or advisory tools.

For more information on the FMSTAN Science Diplomacy Chapter contact: info@ingsa.org 

 

FMSTAN meeting May 2018 – UN CSTD, Geneva

In May, the FMSTAN was invited to host their next meeting in the margins of the 21st session of the UN’s Commission on Science & Technology for Development (CSTD). The 2-day meeting in Geneva brought together representatives from the foreign ministries of 18 countries, as well as important guests from the World Bank, CERN, and CSTD among others, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of Science Diplomacy, the role of science in the SDGs, disruptive technology and transnational advice in emergencies. 

The workshop was widely considered the network’s best and most engaging meeting to date and represents the ongoing growth and value of a high-level group devoted to the role of science and evidence provision in countries’ foreign ministries.