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The InterAcademy Panel: The Global Network of Science Academies (IAP) is a global network consisting of over 106 national science academies. Founded in 1993, its stated goal is to help member academies advise the public on the scientific aspects of critical global issues. It has released official statements on socially important topics, including human population growth, global warming, human reproductive cloning, and evolution.
The highest decisive body of IAP is the General Council, which meets every third year, and where each member organization has one vote. In between the meetings, the work is directed by an executive committee with 11 member academies, convening each year; by two co-chairs, and of a secretariat at the present host academy. One of the chairs shall be the president or another prominent person from an academy in a developing country; the other shall have a similar standing in an academy from an industrialized country. Similar rules of diversity of members hold for the executive committee. The present co-chairs are Howard Alper (serving a second three-year period 2010-2012) and Mohamed H.A. Hassan (first three-year period).
In 2000, the panel founded the InterAcademy Council (IAC), which is governed by a board including a rotating group of 15 Academy presidents from around the world. In order to represent a global view, the governing nations are of diverse levels of economic development. The current co-chairs of the board are Robbert Dijkgraaf and Lu Yongxiang.
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One major way for IAP to promote its goal is to take initiatives to "joint statements on issues of fundamental importance to humanity". A statement first appears as a draft, which all members are encouraged to comment and amend; decisions on formulations are "reached by consensus". The final statement then is put to a vote, and is only accepted as an official IAP document if at least two thirds of the members (i.e., of the member academies) agree to sign it. , p. 4. Thus, the statements are intended to represent the consensus of the scientific community rather than statements of IAP as an organisation in itself.
Until 2009, twelve or thirteen statements have reached the status of official IAP documents, as listed below.
- IAP statement on population growth, proposed 1993, ratified 1994, signed by 58 members. The academies state that "the world is undergoing an unprecedented population expansion", and that it is necessary to stop it. They noted that the amount of food produced (both on land and sea) per person was decreasing, and stated that many environmental problems were aggravated by the population expansion. The academies state that we must reach "zero population growth within the lifetime of our children". They enumerate means which should be taken to achieve this, and also to counteract the effects of the population growth on environment and food production, inter alia. This includes furthering equal opportunities for women, easy access to cheap and safe contraceptives, broad primary health care, governmental policies recognizing longer-term environmental responsibilities, and increased research on cultural, religious, and other factors, which "affect reproductive behavior".
- IAP statement on science and technology and the future of cities, 1996, signed by 71 members. The academies note that there is an ongoing rapid world wide urbanisation. They state that this in itself is not necessarily a bad development, but that it may have rather negative effects, if appropriate measures are not taken in order to ensure the new city dwellers e.g. access to water and adequate housing. Therefore, active city planning is necessary, and so is further research on urbanisation.
- IAP statement on transition to sustainability, 2000, signed by 63 members.
- IAP statement on human cloning, 2003, signed by 67 members. The academies support "a worldwide ban on the reproductive cloning of human beings", but at the same time call for "cloning to obtain embryonic stem cells for both research and therapeutic purposes to be excluded from this ban".
- IAP statement on health of mother and child in developing countries, 2003, signed by 67 members.
- IAP statement on science education of children, 2003, signed by 68 members.
- IAP statement on scientific capacity building, 2003, signed by 68 members.
- IAP statement on science and the media, 2003, signed by 68 members.
- IAP statement on access to scientific information, 2003, signed by 68 members.
- IAP statement on biosecurity, 2005, signed by 71 members.
- IAP statement on the teaching of evolution, 2006. Signed by 70 members.
- IAP statement on ocean acidification, 2009. Signed by 70 members. The academies state that ocean water acidity has risen due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) caused by human activities, and that it probably will rise further with severe effects on marine ecosystems if the emission of CO2 does not decrease considerably. They urge the issue be recognized among the problems addressed by the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen.
- IAP statement on tropical forests and climate change, 2009. Signed by 54 members.
Role in reviewing the IPCC process
In 2010, the council board recommended changes in the IPCC, such as having an executive committee with "individuals from outside the IPCC or even outside the climate science community." Major changes from then within the IPCC approach include a stronger focus on the treatment of uncertainty (since the IAC 2010 IPCC review) and the involvement of risk management deliberations (based on fundamental conclusions in the AR4 Synthesis Report).
- "Membership by country". IAP. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
- "About IAP". InterAcademy Panel. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- Alberts, Bruce (2008-04-12). "Independent research needs to be shared to benefit all of us". The Scotsman. Johnston Press. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- "Board Members". InterAcademy Council. January 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- Hassan, Mohamed (10 March 2015). "Academies of Science as Key Instruments of Science Diplomacy". Science & Diplomacy. 4 (1).
- InterAcademy Council Report Recommends Fundamental Reform of IPCC Management Structure
- Evaluation, characterization, and communication of uncertainty by the intergovernmental panel on climate change—an introductory essay Climatic ChangeAn Interdisciplinary, International Journal Devoted to the Description, Causes and Implications of Climatic Change, Gary Yohe and Michael Oppenheimer 2011