2004 IAC Annual Report

  • AuthorIAC Executive Director
  • Release Date14 January 2005
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Annual Report of the IAC Executive Director for 2004 *

Preliminary observation

In 2004 there were two days of special importance to the IAC: 5 February and 25 June. On the first day the IAC made public its first report ever, on S&T capacity building entitled Inventing a better future. A strategy for building worldwide capacities in science and technology. On the second day the IAC made public its second report entitled Realizing the promise and potential of African agriculture. Science and technology strategies for improving agricultural productivity and food security in Africa. On both occasions U.N. Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, graciously hosted a special U.N. Publication Launch for U.N. ambassadors, their staff, U.N. staff and the U.N. press corps. A better way to present the first two IAC reports to the world is hardly imaginable. To continue – and end – the string of mottos begun in my first Annual Report: in its four years of existence the IAC has moved from preparation (2001), via implementation (2002) and impact (2003) to success (2004).

Programmatic developments

1.   Promoting Worldwide Science and Technology Capacities

With a print run of about 5500 copies, the full report was ready in mid-January 2004 and it was formally presented by panel Co-Chair Jacob Palis to the IAC Board on 26 January 2004. On 5 February 2004 the report was made public at U.N. Headquarters in New York and presented to U.N. Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, at a special U.N. Publication Launch attended by U.N. ambassadors, their staff, U.N. staff and the U.N. press corps.  The meeting was chaired by Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of UNDP, who would later be appointed as the Secretary General’s Chief of Staff in January 2005. The U.N. issued special press releases, both before and after the meeting, while the IAC – with the help of some of its member academies – issued press releases in English, French and Spanish. On 13 February 2004 Science published a special Editorial by Mr. Annan, entitled Science for All Nations, in which Mr. Annan expressed his strong support for the IAC report.

At its meeting in January 2004 the IAC Board spent considerable time on defining productive follow-up actions, accepting that as an organization the IAC does not have the resources to do more than act as a catalyst in the building of momentum for follow-up. In essence the Board defined three follow-up actions:

·        To work with the IAP in mobilizing the world’s science academies to define and undertake concrete follow-up, both by academies and their governments.

·        To convene a workshop of the development-cooperation/donor community and the science community to develop improved mechanisms for S&T capacity building.

·        To initiate a new IAC study to develop special indicators that would allow each nation to measure its progress, or the lack thereof, in strengthening S&T capacities.

However, before turning its attention to the implementation of these Board decisions, the IAC Secretariat in Amsterdam (as well as the KNAW staff) were facing the challenge of shipping about 4000 copies of the report (at 0,6 kg each) to all relevant organizations worldwide. This task had to be discharged with some urgency not only in view of the fact that the 5000 copies of the report filled the KNAW-building beyond capacity, but also – and more importantly – to maintain the worldwide interest and momentum created by the 5 February event. For that reason it was decided to ship by special courier service, even though this was much more expensive than regular mail.

To implement the Board’s first decision – to mobilize IAP member academies -- in March 2004 the IAP and IAC Co-Chairs sent letters to all academies of science, engineering and medicine requesting that each of them define an action program to provide follow-up to the report’s recommendations. Science academies were also requested to take action to build support for the report within their country and especially within their own government. In June 2004 about 35 academies had responded by indicating how they intended to follow-up the report. The IAP intends to discuss these plans and their impacts at its next General Conference scheduled for 2006.

The planning of the workshop – the Board’s second decision - began in earnest in May 2004 when the support for the idea had been secured from IDRC, Canada, and from SIDA/SAREC, Sweden. On 22 September 2004, an informal meeting took place in Amsterdam to discuss the program and the list of organizations and individuals to be invited. The program so developed would require a conference of about 150 participants. However, in late October it became clear that this was too ambitious and the plans were scaled down to a workshop involving about 50 participants – which was the original intention of the IAC Board anyway. The workshop is now scheduled to take place on 3 and 4 February 2005, that is: immediately after the IAC Board meeting. There will be about 45 participants representing a good mix of decision-makers, donor organizations and the science community.

It took a while to turn the Board’s last decision – a study on science indicators – into action. The main reason for the delay was the difficulty of developing a coherent and consistent concept of the study, especially in relation to objectives and methodology. However, recently such a concept has begun to emerge from the various discussions that took place in 2004. A concrete proposal on the study will be placed before the January 2005 meeting of the IAC Board.

2.   Improving Agricultural Productivity in Africa

At the January 2004 meeting, Rudy Rabbinge, one of the panel Co-Chairs, reported to the IAC Board on the progress of the study and on the recommendations likely to be made in the report. At that time the IAC review process for this study’s draft report was well underway, with a 2 February 2004 deadline for sending in comments. In March 2004 the panel Co-Chairs and the Study Director met in Washington, D.C., to finalize the changes to be made to the draft report as a result of review. At the end of March the revised report was approved by the study panel and on 7 April and 13 April, respectively, the two Review Monitors, Hans Herren, Director General  ICIPE, Kenya, and  Mamphela Ramphele, Managing Director World Bank, informed the IAC Co-Chairs that they were satisfied that the study panel had dealt adequately with all review comments. This prompted the IAC Co-Chairs to release the report for publication.

At the end of May about 3500 copies of the report arrived at the KNAW building, again filling it beyond capacity as the smaller number of copies was more than compensated by the fact that the Africa agriculture report is about twice the number of pages and twice the weight of the S&T report.

On 25 June 2004 U.N. Secretaryyâ€General, Mr. Kofi Annan hosted another U.N. Publication Launch at U.N. New York Headquarters. This meeting too was attended by U.N. ambassadors, their staff, U.N. staff and the U.N. press corps. Two weeks later, on 5 July 2004 Mr. Annan introduced the IAC report at a presidentiallâ€level seminar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In his opening remarks to a plenary gathering of some 450 delegates, including seven Heads of State from African Union states, the Secretary General said the following with respect to the IAC report:

"Two years ago, I asked the InterAcademy Council to come up with a plan for preventing famines and eliminating hunger for many millions of people in Africa. Last week, the Council put forward a powerful set of ideas that focus in particular on building strong scientific and technical institutions for agriculture †not as an afterthought, but as a strategic goal. The Council is also stressing the need not just for a single green revolution, but for a number of "rainbow evolutions" that will respond to a wide range of challenges. I urge you to listen closely to the Council's presentation later today."

Later at that same meeting Mr. Annan introduced Jim Ryan, Study Director of the IAC study panel, to give a presentation on the recommendations of the report.

Meanwhile, the Amsterdam IAC Secretariat and the KNAW staff were facing the task of shipping about 3000 copies of the report to relevant organizations around the world, with a special emphasis on Africa. Once again it was considered essential to ship by courier service, even though the weight of the report made this an even more expensive proposition than shipping the S&T report.

For the African agriculture report too, the IAC wishes to act as a catalyst in the follow-up process. Accordingly, in September 2004 the IAC Cooâ€Chairs established a small ad hoc group to:

·        Encourage international organizations and governments to take note of the report and to take action to implement the recommendations of the report that apply to them.

·        Engage international and national agricultural research institutions, CGIAR and FARA in particular, to support research as proposed in the recommendations of the report.

·        Assist in generating, both from private and public donor organizations, the financial resources needed to give effect to the report’s recommendations.

·        Promote and support the implementation of the report’s pilot participatory science and technology institutional innovation programs

            This ad hoc group consists of:

·        Mohamed Besri, Morocco.

·        Monty Jones, Ghana.

·        Wilberforce Kisamba-Mugerwa, Ethiopia.

·        Peter Matlon, USA.

·        Bongiwe Njobe, South Africa.

·        Rudy Rabbinge, the Netherlands (Chair).

·        Jim Ryan, Australia

In the fall of 2004 the report was presented and discussed at several international meetings – both governmental (for example, FAO) and non-governmental (for example, IFPRI) - usually after a presentation of the report’s highlights by panel Co-Chair Rudy Rabbinge. On 24 January the ad hoc group will meet in Amsterdam to discuss the impacts of the report so far and to identify additional follow-up initiatives and mechanisms.


3.    Study on women in science

At its January 2004 meeting the Board approved the prospectus for a study on “Women for Science”. In view of its focus on defining concrete actions for science academies, the Board also decided that the study should be carried out as a “short-term  advisory project”, implying that it would be based on existing data, that it should be finished within a year, and that it would have a budget of no more than USD 150.000.

Raising even this relatively modest amount has not been easy. On 9 June 2004 the Executive Director visited UNESCO to discuss coordination between the IAC Women for Science study and the plans of UNESCO to prepare a special World Report on Science, Technology and Gender to be published in the fall of 2006. This led to an agreement-in-principle to include (part of) the IAC report in the Unesco World Report, either as a special chapter or as an annex. In this way the recommendations of the IAC study will also reach the larger audience of the UNESCO report.

In October 2004 the French cosmetics firm of L’Oréal approved a grant of USD 70.000 to the IAC for the Women for Science study as part of its longstanding Women in Science Awards program with UNESCO. This grant also released a grant of USD 50.000 from a private donor who, for the time being, wishes to remain anonymous. When the Netherlands Minister of Education, Culture and Science agreed to a grant of USD 20.000, it was decided to select and convene the study panel.

As the study is a short-term advisory project, there is a simplified procedure, agreed with the IAP, to select and appoint panel members. Accordingly, the IAC Co-Chairs consulted the IAP Co-Chairs on possible candidates for the study panel and when there was a suitable slate of candidates, the IAC Co-Chairs selected and appointed the panel. In early December the IAC Co-Chairs appointed a small core group to initiate the study and in early January they appointed the full panel. Its members are:

·                    Ken-ichi Arai,  Japan

·                    Jocelyn Bell Burnell, United Kingdom

·                    Ayse Erzan, Turkey

·                    Nancy Ip, Hongkong ·                    Johanna Levelt Sengers, USA (Co-Chair)

·                    Lydia Makhubu, Swaziland                                                      

·                    Armando Parodi, Argentina ·                    Manju Sharma, India (Co-Chair)

·                    Anne Stevens, USA

·                    Jennifer Thomson, South Africa


The work of panel will be supported by Jan Peters, UK, as special advisor, and Laura van Veenendaal, the Netherlands, as research assistant.

In December the Co-Chairs, some panel members and project staff met in Amsterdam to develop a final workplan, with the preparation of a briefing book on all relevant studies so far being the first step. The full panel will have its first meeting in Paris at the end of February/early March in conjunction with the L’Oréal-Unesco Women in Science Award ceremony to take place at the same time.

4.   Study on transitions to sustainable energy systems

In January 2004 the IAC received letters from His Excellency Xu Guanhua, Minster of Science and Technology of China, and from His Excellency L. Gushiken, Minister of Communications and Strategic Management of Brazil, expressing support for the proposed IAC study on transitions to sustainable energy systems. In February the IAC Co-Chairs responded by expressing their sincere appreciation for the support of the study by the governments of Brazil and China.

In April a new and less technical project proposal was prepared, while in September the IAC Co-Chairs approved the Terms of Reference of a small organizing group to assist in launching the study. However, the most important issue throughout 2004 in relation to the energy study was how to secure an adequate level of funding. In view of the deficits of the S&T study and the Africa agriculture study it was out of the question to initiate the study without at least a base level funding of USD 500.000.

Happily, all these efforts to secure funding began to generate results in the fall of 2004. There now are firm pledges from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the United Nations Foundation. Contributions are also expected from some governments and from the GEF. In addition, there are promising contacts with other governments, philanthropic foundations and the private sector. All in all, about USD 300.000 is now available and on that basis it is now possible to (finally) launch the study.

5.   Study on UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The prospectus for a study on re-vitalizing the role of science in the selection and management of UNESCO World Heritage sites, natural and mixed, was approved by the Board in its January 2004 meeting. It was agreed that UNESCO itself would be in charge of securing the funding for the study, estimated to fall in the range of USD 750.000 to USD 1.000.000. 

During the year several consultations took place between UNESCO and IAC staff on progress with fundraising. As UNESCO had decided to make the IAC study the first part of  a larger project, also including the implementation of the study’s recommendations, UNESCO was seeking a total amount of USD 5.000.000.

On 12 July the IAC Co-Chairs wrote to the IAP Co-Chairs requesting them, in accordance with the agreed procedure, to announce the study to the  IAP member academies and to request these academies to nominate candidates for the study panel. In early October 2004, about fifty nominations had been received from the IAP member academies. As soon as the IAC receives word from UNESCO that funding has been arranged, the IAC Co-Chairs intend to appoint a small core group to assist them in selecting the full panel.

6.  Symposia U.N. ambassadors

In view of the two events on 5 February and 25 June 2004 to launch the IAC studies on S&T capacity building and African agriculture, there have been no special IAC Symposia for U.N. ambassadors in 2004. Except for the presence of the U.N. press corps, the 5 February and the 25 June events were very similar in purpose and participation to the U.N. Symposia organized by the IAC in 2002 and 2003,

Institutional issues


7.   Relations with IAP

In 2004 the IAC participated again with observer status in all meetings of the Executive Committee of the IAP, while IAP observers attended the annual IAC Board meeting in January 2004. As in the years before, there were frequent contacts between the IAC and the IAP Secretariats and occasionally consultations took place between the IAC and the IAP Co-Chairs. The IAC and the IAP now enjoy an excellent relationship, both at the professional and at the personal level.f special importance has been the selection and election of a new IAC Board. The IAC Bylaws prescribe that the IAP requests its members to indicate whether they seek election to the IAC Board, while the IAP Executive Committee and the IAC Board must then enter a consultative process to develop a joint recommendation for the new IAC Board. This fairly complicated procedure was completed by the IAP and IAC without any difficulty or confrontation. The IAC Board approved the joint IAP/IAC recommendation with the required two-thirds majority vote on 20 October 2004.   As required by the IAC Bylaws, ten academies of the present Board will return (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, UK, USA and TWAS), while five new members will join (Chile, Hungary, Iran, Turkey and the African Academy). With regrets, five academies will rotate off the IAC Board (Israel, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Sweden). The new Board will take office at the end of the January 2005 Board meeing.

Membership IAC Board

In 2004 there were no changes in the composition of the IAC Board. Accordingly, at the end of that year the Board was composed as follows: Co-Chairs: Bruce Alberts, President National Academy of Sciences, USA; Goverdhan Mehta, former President Indian National Science Academy; Members: Janne Carlsson, former President Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Hubert Curien, former President Académie des Sciences, France; Jose Antonio de la Peña, former President Mexican Academy of Sciences; George Ellis, Member of Council Academy of Sciences of South Africa; Eduardo Moacyr Krieger, President Brazilian Academy of Sciences; Kiyoshi Kurokawa, President Science Council of Japan; Lee Yee Cheong, former Vice-President Academy of Sciences of Malaysia; Lu Yongxiang, President Chinese Academy of Sciences; Robert May, President The Royal Society of London; Yuri S. Osipov, President Russian Academy of Sciences; C.N.R. Rao, President Third World Academy of Sciences; Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, President Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; Jacob Ziv, President Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; and Observers: Yves Quéré, Co-Chair InterAcademy Panel on International Issues; Willem Levelt, President Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; and Jane Lubchenko, President International  Council for Science ICSU.

10.       Institution building

In 2004 the IAP and IAC Co-Chairs and staff invested a great deal of time and energy in developing new Statutes and Rules of Procedure for the IAP and new Bylaws and Rules of Procedure for the IAC. Both (sets of) documents were drafted by the IAC Executive Director, so returning to his roots as a lawyer.

·        The IAP Statutes and Rules of Procedure were approved by the IAP Executive Committee in November 2004 and are now being applied provisionally, pending a formal vote at the next IAP General Assembly.

·        The Bylaws and Rules of Procedure of the IAC will be placed before the IAC Board in its January 2005 meeting. The new Bylaws and Rules of Procedure are intended not only to be technically more precise and complete, but also - and more importantly – to consolidate the lessons learned in the IAC’s first four years.

11.       IAC Secretariat

In 2004 there were no changes in the composition of the IAC Secretariat. Throughout the year it consisted of: Albert Koers, Executive Director; Dilip Ahuja, Associate Director; John Campbell, Associate Director; and Margreet Haverkamp, Office Manager. The IAC Secretariat continues to be hosted in Amsterdam by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

As Albert Koers had indicated his desire to resign as Executive Director in the first half of 2005, a Search Committee for a new Executive Director was appointed by the IAC Board in January 2004. In November 2004 the Search Committee recommended to the Board that John Campbell, presently IAC Associate Director be appointed for a 3 year term; that Jos van Renswoude, the Netherlands, be appointed IAC Director of Studies for the same period; and that, subject to Board approval, Jos van Renswoude succeed John Campbell when his term expires. This arrangement seeks to ensure continuity and to strengthen the IAC Secretariat at the same time. The Board approved the recommendations of the Search Committee with the required two-thirds majority vote on 2 November 2004. 

Final observation

Essentially, 2004 marks the end of the IAC’s formative years. The IAC has now successfully completed two studies and these studies have been well received worldwide. Also, two new studies are underway – Women for Science and Transitions to Sustainable Energy Systems – while the UNESCO World Heritage study is likely to start in the spring of 2005. Also, as an organization the IAC now has a new Board, a new Executive Director, a new Director of Studies, new Bylaws and Rules of Procedure and, hopefully in the near future, new Co-Chairs. All in all, not bad for a four year period.

If I may end with a personal note: this will be my last Annual Report as I will hand over the Executive Directorship to John Campbell on 1 May 2005. The accomplishments of the IAC in “my” four years have really exceeded my hopes and expectations when I accepted the Executive Directorship in January 2001. It has been a privilege to have held that position for four years and to work with so many excellent people, driven not by personal ambition, but by the ideal of making this world a better place.

I look forward to my new role as IAC General Counsel and to the continuation of my involvement with the IAC in a different role.

Albert Koers
IAC Executive Director
14 January 2005

*  In accordance with article 3, paragraph 16, sub e of the Bylaws