The 8th International Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Global Young Academy took place from 7 – 11 May in Pattaya, Thailand, bringing together 114 GYA members and alumni. The conference addressed the topic ‘Forever Young? Sustainable and Healthy Longevity through Science and Technology’. Below is an overview of the manifold events within the event, linking to more in-depth news on particular sessions. The conference programme, including all panelists and contributors, can be viewed at the event site and at the end of this page. A special thank you to the sponsors (see programme) and the tireless local and member-led committees for making this memorable gathering possible.
Science Leadership Workshop
New GYA members met two days prior to the conference begin to take part in a pre-AGM science leadership workshop, facilitated by KnowInnovation facilitators, including experienced GYA members and regional partners.
Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) officially opened on 8 May with a welcome by GYA Co-Chairs Tolu Oni (South Africa) and Moritz Riede (UK), as well as Prof Dr Jutta Schnitzer-Ungefug, Secretary General of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Following their remarks, the 2018 new members were inaugurated. This year, the GYA welcomed 45 young scholars and scientists (23 female and 22 male), pushing the GYA’s gender balance to 57% male and 43% female. Highlights from the first AGM day included an information fair for members to get to know existing working groups, incubator groups, and member committee activities and a plenary session on internal reports and discussions looking back at the past year.
The 8th International Conference opened on the morning of 9 May, inviting public guests to the event and opening up discussions on the conference topic with two panels – “What does healthy aging mean for individuals as embodied beings” and “Communities for healthy longevity, communities for all ages”. GYA members presented their work related to healthy ageing in the first Lightning Talk session in the afternoon. A Gala Dinner, organised by the local organising committee and eloquently opened by UNESCO Assistant Director General Flavia Schlegel, wrapped up the day.
Day two of the International Conference began with a key note talk by Nobel Laureate Prof Harald zur Hausen, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2008 for discovering that the human papilloma virus (HPV) is the principal cause of cervical cancer. Prof Zur Hausen spoke on the link between infections and cancers. A short interview with Prof zur Hausen on his work will be available shortly. A final panel, on “Humans and nature – environmental aspects of sustainable and healthy longevity” contributed a broader perspective to topics at the cross-section of health and sustainability. In afternoon parallel sessions, members presented their work in the second Lightning Talks ‘What do you do and why?’. Further highlights of the day were a morning round table discussion on the relationship between the GYA and National Young Academies, and an afternoon science outreach session with the Thai National Science Museum, discussing communication of the SDGs to the public and school children.
Throughout the conference, members contributed to the drafting of a conference statement, reflecting discussions during the panels as well as provocative questions posed and debated during a world café style session. The conference statement is planned to be published in June 2018.
The final day of the AGM was reserved for forward-looking planning. Working groups and incubator groups presented their plans for the coming year, and the newly elected Executive Committee (EC) met with the outgoing EC and with advisory board members, in person and virtually. Outgoing members were given a personal farewell at the final dinner.
Led by the GYA Young Scientists Ambassador Programme, on 12 May, GYA members visited Burapha Univeristy in Thailand, giving research seminars and answering questions from local university and high school students.