October 20, 2009 ICSU/CAETS Meeting

October 13, 2009 2:55PM
Paris, France

Summary note of ICSU-CAETS meeting, ICSU, Paris, 20 October, 2009


Deliang Chen, Executive Director; Carthage Smith, Deputy Executive Director; Tish Bahmani Fard, Assistant Executive Director;

Apologies: Catherine Bréchignac, President

John Leggat, President (by telephone); Gerard van Oortmerssen, Past President; Bill Salmon, Secretary, Treasurer; Bruno Jarry, France, Chair CIO; John Zillmann, Australia

Klaus Bock, President elect (by telephone)

Académie des Technologies (not present for post-lunch session):  Alain Pompidou, President; Bruno Revellin-Falcoz, Vice-president; Pierre-Etienne Bost, Délégué general

Guest (Joined the group for part of the lunchtime discussion):  Gordon Mc Bain, Chair of ICSU IRDR (disaster risk) Scientific Committee


Meeting Agenda

 1200-1300       Introductions and overview of CAETS and ICSU activities

 1300-1400       Lunch and general discussion

 1400-1500       Discussion on opportunities for collaboration


 Key issues and actions

 It was highlighted in the initial overview session that ICSU and CAETS share many common interests, including: education, energy, water, climate, sustainability, ICTs and access. Both organisations also put a high priority on capacity building and developing countries.

 Five specific themes were identified for which closer interactions and/or joint activities would be appropriate:

 1. Science and policy and working with the UN

 ICSU and CAETS already work together to some extent in the context of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).   Although WFEO is formally recognised as ICSU’s partner in the S&T major group, CAETS has good links with WFEO and there are no obstacles to ICSU consulting with and getting input from both organisations. It was noted that Bill Salmon is currently on the WFEO Council.


  •   ICSU to consult CAETS, as appropriate, for input to CSD and other relevant UN policy for a, eg Rio+20

  2.   Disasters and risk

 Disasters and risk is a shared interest of many of the CAETS Members and ICSU has recently launched a new international programme - Integrated  Research on Disaster Risk. Gordon McBain briefly presented this programme and how engineering sciences could be integrated into it.


  • John Leggat to have follow-up discussions with G McBain, considering both the needs of the programme and what CAETS can potentially provide. This would include the possibilities for nominating experts and developing joint projects;
  • CAETS to encourage its National Members to promote and collaborate on the IRDR programme, eg by identifying relevant work that has already been done by the engineering community on risk analysis and mitigation
  • The CAETS Convocation symposium in Mexico in 2011, which may deal with some aspect of Disaster Risk, could benefit from collaboration with ICSU-IRDR;

  3.   Thematic workshops

 Bruno Jarry proposed a series of annual or biannual joint workshops on areas of common interest; potentially the French Academie des Technologies would be interested in hosting the first of these. It was recognised that this had significant resource implications and a pragmatic approach might be to combine it with already planned workshops.


  • To consider testing this joint workshop model, if appropriate, with the Mexico symposium on Disaster Risk
  • To exchange information on already planned workshops, including those being organised by the ICSU Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in Science (C Smith to action)
  • To continue to explore the potential for joint workshop activities, possibly linked to policy mechanisms, such as side events at CSD.

 4. Foresight and future scanning

 CAETS expressed an interest in joint future scanning activities, which led into a discussion of the ICSU foresight scenarios activity, which was just getting underway. It was important to both the potential future benefits and risks of technological development and CAETS would be very interested in contributing on this


  • ICSU (CS) to send further information to CAETS on the foresight exercise
  • ICSU to ensure that CAETS is solicited for input to the initial on-line consultation to identify key future drivers
  • The possibility of including a session on the foresight exercise in the CAETS Council Meeting in Copenhagen, June 30, 2010, to be explored further.

 5.   Communication and information exchange

 All the participants considered that this had been an informative and useful meeting and it was important to maintain the enthusiasm and momentum for working together in the future. Without over-formalising the relationship between ICSU and CAETS, some regular channels of exchange were considered to be appropriate.


  • CS and BJ to make a summary record of this current meeting, which should then be used to report to the formal governance structures (ICSU Executive Board and CAETS Council);
  • To arrange similar annual meetings of the relevant executive persons of CAETS and ICSU;
  • To ensure input, where appropriate, on items of common interest that are being considered at Executive Board or Council meetings (the use of video or tele-conferencing could facilitate this).
  • Looking to the longer-term future, if the next ICSU Strategic Plan, where to include a review of ICSU’s relationships with engineering and innovation, then there would clearly be a need for even closer communication.
  • To note that the contact points for all communications as follows:  CAETS: Bill Salmon and Bruno Jarry; ICSU: Deliang Chen and Carthage Smith