Preparatory work on the Science Symposium jointly hosted by the Australian Academy of Science and AIPI is progressing with the appointment of conveners to fill the science programme on 29-30 November: Health: Prof. David Cooper and Dr Herawati Sudoyo; Marine and Climate Change: Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Prof. Jamaluddin Jompa; Agriculture: Dr Jim Peacock, Dr TJ Higgins and Assoc. Prof Fenny Dwivany. Events on 28 November and 1 December will be open for the public. The symposium website is under development and will launched in early October under the KSI website.
The purpose of the Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium is to build scientific cooperation and exchange between Australia and Indonesia, and to strengthen people-to-people links between the two countries. It should assist in the promotion of science for the public good in both countries.
The Australia-Indonesia Science Symposium promotes scientific collaboration between Indonesia and Australia. The Symposium is an annual event that includes both public events and scientific exchanges. The Symposium alternates between the two countries with a long term view to promote the importance and value of science in national economic and social development as well and international exchange.
Indonesia is a middle income country that has potential to become a high income country. To move in that direction it needs to strengthen its use of science in the national interest. Indonesia’s economy is heavily resource-based. Australia is a high income middle power which is also resource-based. Australian science is relatively strong and also supports a significant element of public education and public engagement in the national science agenda.
With its large population and rich natural resources, Indonesia has the potential to be one of the world's biggest economies. Of its 238 million people – 40 million are middle class and 25.6 million are at 19-24 years of age. Indonesia is one of the best performing economies in the G20. But Indonesia also faces many development related challenges that could negate this demographic bonus and derail its economic development – food security, new emerging diseases, dual burdens of disease, energy security, conflicts related to its ethnic and cultural diversity, anthropogenic and climate change threats to its mega biodiversity, marine resources that remained untapped, and natural disasters associated with living in the ring of fire are some examples; all requires serious input of science.
However, all indicators show that Indonesia lags behind in science and technology capacity: it makes limited contribution to the development of scientific knowledge, registers a low number of patents, has a small population of scientists, researchers and engineers, as well as limited research funding. Indonesia’s gross R&D investment is less than 0.1 percent of GDP, almost too low to appear on the published charts. The nation is also in desperate need of reinforcement in the scientific culture, science education and culture of excellence. Indonesia has made some important moves in this direction and the time is ripe to build on those moves and strengthen the human and resource funding base for science.
Australia is a middle power with a relatively small population of 23.13 million. It is one of the largest mixed market economies in the world, dominated by services, mining and agricultures economy. Australia has a strong science infrastructure including not only strong academies and universities but also strong public involvement and promotion of science through an annual “science week” and science prizes.
The two countries, both members of the G20, through their respective academies of science, recognize the importance of scientific collaboration for the advancement of science in both countries is keen to increase scientific collaboration and exchange. The Australia Indonesia Science Symposium is the mechanism they have identified to launch that effort.
A strong science community needs strong scientific institutions. A national science academy is an important element of that institutional base. An academy provides science advice to the nation and as such can be an important source of knowledge and guidance for policy makers over the long term. The Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI), founded twenty-five years ago, has become a much more active promoter of science and science policy in the nation. It has produced the Indonesian Science Agenda (SAINS45) Towards a Century of Independence. Importantly it has successfully promoted the creation of the Indonesian Science Fund (Dana Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia), improving both the access to resources for research but even more importantly the creation of an institution that will fund research competitively and on a multi-year basis.
AIPI has fostered the creation of two partner organizations, the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI) that was founded in May 2015, and the Indonesian Science Fund (DIPI), that was formally signed into law by the President in March 2016. The Young Academy is important for the support it provides to encouraging young scientists to continue in a scientific career and to do so in Indonesia. The Science Fund is a major boost to research funding and can be an engine of growth for scientific funding.
International collaboration has been an important part of the successes of both these efforts. The Young Academy had international support for playing a major role in crafting SAINS45. The agenda, in the form of 45 crucial scientific questions for the future of Indonesia, capitalises on the Indonesian experience in these frontiers of science initiatives, and represents the thoughts and vision of young scientists of Indonesia. With support from KSI/DFAT, the SAINS45 team visited Australia “to have a series of in-depth discussions with Australian leading scientists in order to enrich the scientific vision of the Agenda”. The team was welcomed by scientists at the Australian Academy of Sciences, The Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the Sydney Medical School. The Indonesian Science Agenda was produced by a network of Indonesian young scientists. In May 2015, the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI) was formally established with a mission to empowering young scientists to advance science in Indonesia.
The creation of the Science Fund built on a report (2012) supported by Australia and led by a member of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences. The ISF is an independent body under the AIPI umbrella that raises and channels funds from government and non-government sources to support scientific research on a competitive basis. The new funding model under ISF allows for multiyear and long-term research projects which is a breakthrough given the existing bureaucratic financial administration currently burdening state-funded research. This is one important step towards strengthening a scientific culture in Indonesia.
What is the AISS?
The Australia Indonesia Science Symposium is an annual scientific exchange that will be hosted alternately by Australia and Indonesia. It includes the participation of members of the academies, young scientists and other academic experts in the topics under review each year. The Symposium is a multi-day event that promotes science to the public in each country as well as providing a platform for scientists in selected thematic areas to meet, exchange findings and ideas, and explore potential research collaboration. It focuses on science that is of joint or common interest to the two countries. Relevant government agencies will be invited to hear the findings that could influence their work. Possible government-to-government exchanges will be organized in parallel with the Symposium to enhance the profile of science.
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