Switzerland's president touts value of anticipatory science diplomacy

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At the second GESDA Summit in Geneva, President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis addressed a gathering of ministers, scientists and diplomats. He shared his vision of anticipatory science diplomacy. Two initiatives in the fields of quantum computing and science diplomacy were proposed during the summit. Mr Cassis, also head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), took part in a ministerial panel that brought international political actors to a GESDA Summit for the first time.

In his address, Mr Cassis emphasised the importance of science diplomacy. The GESDA Foundation aims to build bridges between the diplomats and scientists to facilitate relations between state actors. "GESDA is not a substitute to the legitimate actors of governance, but rather a tool at their disposal," noted Mr Cassis. Anticipatory diplomacy allows emerging issues to be addressed "with as much common ground as possible" between all stakeholders, before handing them over to states. "There is no acceleration of diplomacy in the face of existing problems that already impact us. Once the challenge is there, the opportunity is gone," he said.

Mr Cassis also participated in a ministerial panel. Many political actors were represented at a GESDA Summit for the first time. This occasion afforded Mr Cassis the opportunity for bilateral exchanges with Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s foreign minister, and with Sarah Bint Yousif Al-Amiri, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for education and advanced technology.
At the Summit, the Foundation announced the creation of the Open Quantum Institute (OQI) aimed at ensuring the internationally democratised use of quantum computing’s exponential power and its capacity to solve complex problems. It has also launched the Curriculum on Science and Diplomacy, a programme of training and networking between the scientific and diplomatic communities aimed at forging a common culture.

Geneva, the hub of science diplomacy

Geneva, the Lake Geneva region and Switzerland, home to CERN, EPFL and renowned universities, are the ideal location for launching science and diplomacy initiatives thanks to their wide-ranging and high-calibre expertise. Home to 43 international organisations and several hundred NGOs, Geneva is a pivotal centre for anticipating the prospects and challenges of technological progress in order to harness it for a sustainable, universally inclusive future.

GESDA is an independent foundation that is financed as a public-private partnership. It is supported by the federal authorities as well as Geneva’s cantonal and city authorities.