History of science diplomacy comes full circle in view of the recent Nature news piece that NATO is boosting AI and climate research as scientific diplomacy remains on ice with the final sentence:

Open science is akin to freedom of speech. If we turn off open science, in a sense we’re undermining democracy,” says Berkman.

In 1981, at the age of 22, I wintered at McMurdo Station in Antarctica on a SCUBA research expedition with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, looking at our world from a great distance. That experience  was profound in every sense of the word, especially with discovery of a lifelong-learning question:

Why did the United States and Soviet Union cooperate continuously in Antarctica (as well as Outer Space) throughout the Cold War, despite the animosities them everywhere else on Earth?

The following year, with passion and a sense of responsibility, it became possible to convince the faculty at the University of California Los Angeles that they needed a course on “Antarctic Marine Ecology and Policy”, which they enabled me to teach as a Visiting Professor in 1982. This began my journey as a science diplomat, awakening insights about Science into Policy: Global Lessons from Antarctica.

With research into action, the those insights were elaborated subsequently with the Antarctic Treaty Summit in Washington, DC on the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, to celebrate the United States and Soviet Union along ten other nations, including claimants and non-claimants, who established the region south of 60o South latitude “for peaceful purposes only”.  Derived with “matters of common interest” –  the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, which was signed on 1 December 1959 (Antarctica Day), became the first nuclear arms agreement in our globally-interconnected civilization:

“…with the interests of science and the progress of all mankind.”

The 2009 Antarctic Treaty Summit engaged more than forty sponsoring organizations around the world, including The Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as well as the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate, which adopted a joint Congressional Resolution with unanimous consent: “Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Antarctic Treaty.”   Participants came from nearly thirty nations, involving keynote addresses by the Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, and His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco with contributions from diplomats, scientists, legislators, administrators, lawyers, historians, artists, writers, educators, entrepreneurs, students, and other members of civil society.  With hope for humanity, the Antarctic Treaty Summit generated the first book on Science Diplomacy with observations in Nature that International Spaces Promote Peace.

With skills of a science diplomat to broker dialogues among allies and adversaries alike – from the 2009 Antarctic Treaty Summit,  it became possible the following year to convene the first formal dialogue between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russia regarding security in the Arctic.  Supported by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, that 2010 dialogue was inclusive (who, what, when, where, why and how), building common interests from questions of common concern, as with the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.  The 2013 question that arose from the NATO Advanced Research Workshop in the New York Times about Preventing an Arctic Cold War remains relevant:

“But if these nations are still too timid to discuss peace in the region when tensions are low, how will they possibly cooperate to ease conflicts if they arise?”

Answering this question, comes full circle, in view of Open Science and the quote in the April 2024 Nature news piece, for the benefit of all on Earth across generations.