The Foreign Ministries Science & Technology Advice Network (FMSTAN) is a global web of science advisors working 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. Since then, the network continues to grow and now numbers members from well over 20 countries.
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.
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. See the resources at the bottom of this page.
FMSTAN meetings will generally take place as a side meeting alongside events organised by INGSA’s Special Interest Division on Science Diplomacy – SPIDER. For anyone interested in discussions around Science Diplomacy you are welcome to join SPIDER following the information on the SPIDER page.
If you or your Foreign Ministry as a high-level science advisor that would like to join the FMSTAN Science Diplomacy Chapter contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Geneva, Switzerland – Oct 2022 – In parallel with 2022 GESDA Summit
In collaboration with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and The Graduate Institute of Geneva, and with the generous support of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), FMSTAN hosted its latest meeting in the margin of the 2022 GESDA Summit.
The meeting attracted over 30 attendees from all around the world and provided unique access to the GESDA Summit, as well as a separate stream of dedicated sessions focused on some of the issues facing science advisors in Foreign Ministries.
FMSTAN would like to thank The Graduate Institute for hosting and for their excellent programming as well as the FDFA and the Fonds de recherche du Quebec for sponsoring side events, and to GESDA for their invitation to attend.
Hybrid Science Diplomacy meeting at ITER – March 2022
On the 10-11 March 2022, FMSTAN convened a hybrid meeting of members, in collaboration with the sister network of Science Diplomacy Coordinators in EU Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
The join Science Diplomacy meeting was held at ITER in France, the site of construction of the world’s largest fusion reactor experiment.
The meeting followed on from the French EU Presidency Meeting on International Science Collaboration that took place on the 8th March in Marseille. As circumstances in the Ukraine erupted only shortly before the meeting, the event took on a particular significance and importance as the role of science in diplomacy and international affairs was suddenly front and centre. Despite the upheavals, the meeting was well attended both physically and online and featured presentations from the Director General of ITER, the European Space Agency, a former US Science Advisor the Secretary of State, the Swiss Ambassador for Science Diplomacy, the European Commission Joint Research Centre, among others.
The physical participants were lucky enough to receive an exclusive tour of the construction site of the huge Tokamak reactor at the heart of the ITER project. This was an important meeting discussing a breadth of topics that have come to the fore in the last couple of years, and an excellent opportunity for network members to meet and network.
FMSTAN would like to thank ITER for generously hosting meeting and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Joint Research Centre for their sponsorship.
Virtual Meetings 2020
FMSTAN has been active during the 2020 pandemic, hosting several virtual meetings of FMSTAN members to both maintain contact between members during this critical time, and to strategise on the role that Science Diplomacy, Foreign Ministries and FMSTAN can play in the management and recovery of COVID-19.
It has been a fruitful action and we hope that some major initiatives will result.
FMSTAN at INGSA2021 – Montréal – Aug/Sept 2021
The INGS2021 conference will now primarily be an online event. We hope that FMSTAN members will be able to join some of the conference as Science Diplomacy will be a common thread in the discussions. More information on the themes of INGSA2021 can be found here. Depending on the timing and the utility to the network, an online meeting of FMSTAN mightbe planned to coincide with the conference.
We will update all FMSTAN members on any plans as they are made.
POSTPONED – Geneva, Switzerland – March 2020
In collaboration the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) meeting
Meeting Focus: Technology Diplomacy
Regretfully, the Geneva meeting of SPIDER and FMSTAN was postponed due to COVID-19, with the hope that a physical meeting will be able to take place once international travel has recommenced
INGSA would like to thank the interest of our partners.
Vienna – November 2019
The November 2019 meeting of SPIDER/FMSTAN took place in Vienna, in collaboration with the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IIASA, The Diplomatische Akademie Wien and the Natural History Museum Vienna.
The 2-day meeting brought together almost 80 people from around the world for a joint meeting with the SPIDER network, to discuss the pressing issues within Science Diplomacy. Thanks to the fantastic work of IIASA and the Ministry, participants were treated to a keynote from Prof Jeffrey Sachs.
Other topics of discussion included:
- Science, diplomacy and the SDGs
- The role of science in international security policy
- Technology diplomacy
- The role of science in diplomatic curricula
Muscat, Oman – February 2019
In conjunction with the Ocean Economy & Future Technology Conference
In collaboration with the International Forum Science and Technology Diplomacy (IFSTD), FMSTAN hosted a vibrant meeting concurrent with the 2019 Ocean Economy & Future Technology Conference to be held in Muscat, Oman from the 11 – 13 February 2019.
The members of FMSTAN also met in a joint session with the SPIDER network to discuss how the two groups can collaborate and drive the global debate around Science Diplomacy. It was a valuable meeting on all fronts and set a strong precedent for future meetings.
FMSTAN meeting Nov 2018 – INGSA2018 Conference, Tokyo
The FMSTAN meeting at the #INGSA2018 conference in Tokyo was a more informal affair, bringing together FMSTAN members with relevant stakeholders to discuss the future direction and focus of science diplomacy and continued to outline the work programme for the network.
The meeting was embedded in what was a highly successful conference for INGSA, a conference that attracted a truly global attendance and that further raised the awareness of science diplomacy as a discipline of growing importance.
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.
FMSTAN meeting: Tufts University, Talloires – Sept 2017
The 2nd FMSTAN meeting in Talloires, with hosts Tufts University European Centre and the Science Diplomacy Centre, brought together an impressive number of countries foreign ministry’s advisors for a meeting that set the tone and direction for the development of the network. 18 countries were in attendance, for a vibrant and important meeting that coalesced the intention of the network.
Below is a short list of resources that give some background to the origins of FMSTAN and the field of Science Diplomacy:
- Paul Arthur Berkman, 2019. Evolution of Science Diplomacy and its Local-Global Applications, European Foreign Affairs Review (July 2019)
- Science Diplomacy Centre, Tufts University – Science Diplomacy – To 2030 and Beyond (November, 2018)
- Science Diplomacy Centre, Tufts University – A Global Network of Science and Technology Advice in Foreign Ministries (September, 2017)
For access to more resources, see the INGSA resources pages.