GYA Co-Chair Koen Vermeir (CNRS, France) participated in the UNESCO Virtual Ministerial Dialogue on COVID-19 and “Open Science” held on 30 March 2020. This was the first time UNESCO organized an important ministerial meeting virtually. Participants included 77 ministers and representatives of international organizations, including the GYA. The meeting started with a short presentation by the Director General of UNESCO, followed by interventions from Ministers and renowned scientists.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that Open Science is crucial for the future of the world and absolutely essential in times of crisis. The ministers explained the actions they are taking in battling COVID-19, including collecting scientific and technical information and sharing it with others. Some countries also called upon companies to open up the design of crucial medical equipment so that it can be built locally. There was a strong consensus that Open Science is needed in the global responses to prevailing threats and challenges.

In his own statement submitted to UNESCO, Koen – who is also the past co-lead of the GYA working group on Open Science – addressed ways to better promote Open Science so that crucial information can circulate more quickly and more widely. “Open Science is confronted with global inequalities and we need national and coordinated global action to make Open Science fair for everyone. The GYA very much supports UNESCO’s initiative to reach a global consensus on Open Science,” he said. He also stressed the need for what he calls Open Science Advice, that is, science advice that is more transparent, inclusive and accessible, also for young scientists. “The COVID-19 crisis has shown that science advice does not always work how it should have, if governments listen to their scientists at all, and opening up science advice will be part of the solution going forward.”

The GYA will be working closely with UNESCO towards the International Recommendation on Open Science.