logotipo twitter link

Science for Development

back to list of events


The Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union will on 27 September 2017 in Brussels host a seminar to discuss the relevant research infrastructures and collaborations and examples of capacity building for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and to examine the enabling policy and regulatory environment for enhancing science cooperation on a global level.


Date and venue:
Wednesday 27 September 2017, 15h00 - 19h00
The Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, Rue Froissart 50, 1040 Brussels


To attend, please register through the form below. Draft agenda is available below.


Background and context

The Africa-EU Summit will take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 29-30 November 2017. The summit comes at a crucial and challenging time for both continents. The theme of the Summit will be 'Youth', which is a shared priority for both Africa and Europe, particularly in terms of migration patterns, unemployment rates among young people and the threat of radicalisation. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have a particular resonance for young people, more than 90% of whom live in developing countries. New technologies including ICT, renewable energies and biotechnology will play a greater role in accelerating progress towards the implementing the SDGs and promoting the economic growth and transformation needed to meet the demand for more and better jobs in developing countries.


A particular challenge is to better recognise the role and contribution of science and innovation to existing development and related policies and to facilitate the involvement of academia, enterprises and civil society in this process. We need to build partnerships between developing and developed country scientists who together can address local challenges and opportunities while using global sources of innovation, data and best practice. The New European Consensus on Development, adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 19 May and endorsed by the European Parliament on 31 May, sets out the roadmap for the attainment of the SDGs, including through utilizing ICTs in development policy.  The recent EU Joint Communication on a renewed impetus for the Africa-EU Partnership highlights the importance of supporting core enabling infrastructures, including information and communications technologies, and of supporting Africa's digital agenda. In addition, the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 speaks of the need to intensify Africa-EU collaboration on research, including by enhancing collaboration between researchers and innovators from Africa and Europe, and to provide support for an open digital research environment for universities and research organisations in Africa.


ISC and its key partners has been very pro-active in promoting this agenda, most recently through the organization of a seminar entitled Science for Development which was hosted by the Irish mission to the UN during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016. The seminar explored how research infrastructures for science can contribute to the objectives of the SDGs, and presented examples of how international cooperation for health data can address global health challenges. The seminar provided a number of important outcomes, including on the participation of the African Union Commission in the EU’s biobanking research infrastructure-BBMRI-ERIC and will lead to the hosting by the Austrian mission to the UN of a follow-on seminar during the Austrian Council Presidency in 2018. In a similar vein, and looking forward to November’s AU-EU Summit, ISC is organising another Science for Development-themed seminar, this time with a digitization focus. The seminar will to be hosted by the Irish Permanent Representation to the EU on 27 September 2017.


Seminar objectives

The seminar will examine key policy options to support science capacity building in Africa to address the global challenges identified in the SDGs and will consider, inter alia, how an enabling policy and regulatory environment can be promoted which will facilitate the sharing of data and knowledge between practitioners in Europe and Africa. The seminar will in particular discuss how recent innovations in space and Big Data in Europe and in Africa can play complementary roles in addressing these key challenges, including through harnessing the complementarity of the Europe-based LOFAR project and related cooperation with Africa, including the Square Kilometre Array.


Last year the Irish government, through Science Foundation Ireland, committed €1.4 million to the development in Birr Castle of an Irish Node of the LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) Telescope.  The Irish Lofar Consortium is a collection of universities and institutes of technology led by Dr. Peter Gallagher of Trinity College. The facility will connect Ireland to the International LOFAR Telescope, which is one of the most sophisticated and advanced astrophysics research projects in the world.


A similar initiative, the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a European Strategy Forum Research Infrastructure project, is under construction in Africa and in Western Australia. The sites will host different but complementary telescopes which together aim to resolve key science questions ranging from the origins of the early universe to present day challenges such as improving agricultural productivity. The SKA, as the largest radio astronomical observatory in the world, has utilized the advanced software and data intensive infrastructures developed by the LOFAR project.


The seminar will also consider agriculture and food security, and how Africa and Europe can cooperate. Research and innovation are pivotal to realisation of the goals of Africa’s transformative agenda. Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA) was identified as the first priority by the EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on Science, Technology and Innovation.


It is envisaged that the recommendations from the seminar will feed into a broad range of discussions at the AU-EU Summit.


Seminar format

Panellists will present relevant research infrastructures and examples of capacity building for achieving the SDGs and examine the enabling policy and regulatory environment for enhancing science cooperation and collaboration at a global level.



Draft agenda

Science for Development seminar

27 September 2017, The Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, Brussels





Declan Kirrane, Intelligence in Science




Ambassador Joe Hackett, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Representation of Ireland, Brussels

Brian Hayes MEP, European Parliament


Perspectives on Science with Africa

Triona McCormack, Director of Research, University College Dublin, Ireland


European Open Science Cloud

Jean-Claude Burgelman, Head of Unit, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission


Africa Data Intensive Research Cloud (ADIRC)

Vinny Pillay, Minister Counsellor, South African Mission to the European Union, Department of Science and Technology



Setting the Scene for Science at the AU-EU Summit

Joe Costello, Former Minister for Trade and Development, Ireland

Jonathan Van Meerbeeck, Pan African Programme, Directorate-General for International Co-operation and Development, European Commission

John Fred Kakule, Expert in charge of Science and Technology, Africa Caribbean Pacific Group of States




Science collaborations with Africa – Astronomy and Big Data

Prof Peter Gallagher, Trinity College Dublin, leader of Science Foundation Ireland funded LOFAR Project, Birr, Co Offaly, Ireland

George Miley, Professor of astronomy, Leiden University, Netherlands

Dora Munda, Director, Congo Science Week




Science collaborations with Africa – Skills from Science

Rosa Doran, Coordinator, Regional Office of Astronomy for Development in Portugal

Rob van der Meer, Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

Virginie Issumo, Coordinator, WomenRoleInPhilantropy



Discussion and Q&A

Emer Costello, Intelligence in Science



Conclusions and recommendations

Triona McCormack, Director of Research, University College Dublin, Ireland



Reception hosted by the Irish Permanent Representation