At the 41st session of the General Conference, held on November 23rd, 2021, the 195 Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unanimously adopted a recommendation on open science.
In this text, UNESCO anchors open science to the core human values they defend of equality, diversity and free circulation of knowledge.
This recommendation supports a wide and comprehensive vision of open science, which includes at its core free access to scientific publications, scientific data, software, source code, material and educational resources. It promotes open participation and dialogue from societal actors with non-academic systems of knowledge.
Josette Rome-Chastannet, representative of the NGO World Federation of Scientific Workers (WFSW), has contributed to this discussion and to the work in preparation for this recommendation. Below is a summary presented by her.
Open science is a world movement with the ambition that the principle “Science, a common good of humanity” becomes an effective reality.
Open science, based on the fundamental value of cooperation instead of competition, must not be at the service of geopolitical interests that drive dangerous competition in the name of Peace.
The reports of cooperation between scientists and between scientists and non-scientists show that they enable and reinforce Peace and equality among peoples.
- The first guiding principle of open science is free and open access to scientific publications and data, thus stopping the source of great inequalities that affect the development of continents: the big and rich American universities have access to 41% of this information, while the whole continent of Africa has access to less than 2%!
- The second guiding principle is transparency and utilization of research findings, which depend on cooperation, exchange, solidarity and equality, excluding lucrative and destructive goals, under an essentially public responsibility. On this point, it is worth mentioning the social responsibility of scientists and their right to oppose innovations that go against ethics and the common good.
- The third principle, undoubtedly the most innovative, is the relationship between science and civil society. The right to knowledge must be guaranteed to all people, which makes it indispensable to bridge all gaps among countries. It is necessary to integrate indigenous knowledge and use it appropriately. Communication and cooperation among scientists and non-scientists, without obscuring or anti-scientific pressures, are enabled thanks to the mutual trust built by open science. This is essential for a high-level education in early childhood and an awareness of all the scientific methods and reasoning, which include critical thinking and placing doubt, necessary conditions for well-educated and informed citizens who are also able to influence and participate in democratic decisions in all levels that concern their lives and the planet we live in.
Open science is a systemic revolution that opens paths to re-configure our world. In this sense, it is of interest to all of us, and our work is to sort out the obstacles that prevent us from moving forward together.
The recommendation in French:
Josette ROME-CHASTANET is a member of the World Federation of Scientific Workers (WFSW), where she works in the groups “Energy, climate” and “Scientific women.” She is a representative of WFSW at UNESCO. She conducts research at the mixed program committee, with teams that work on water, climate change, bioethics and open science.