Science Diplomacy Center: A regional initiative to foster Science-Policy Dialogue and Collaboration for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Americas



The Science Diplomacy Center (SDC) is a regional initiative to foster science-policy dialogue and collaboration for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Americas. In the context of the IAI, science-diplomacy is grounded in the pursuit of scientific excellence, international cooperation, and the open access and exchange of scientific information relevant to global change to support policy and decision-making for the benefit of society.

Over the last thirty years, the IAI has developed and strengthened a robust network of policy and decision-makers, science practitioners, collaborative research networks, as well as generated a wealth of scientific knowledge, training methodologies and transdisciplinary research approaches related to global change topics addressing key issues, such as climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem services, oceans and water resources, among others. However, there remained a need to further strengthen the science-policy communication and collaboration among communities and countries in the Americas; providing policy makers with opportune sound scientific information to support their decision-making processes to address the complex and transboundary challenges facing the region.

As a result, the IAI Science Diplomacy Center was recently launched as a context-specific regional initiative to foster a supportive environment for government officials, experts, and advisors to nurture multilateral science-policy processes and build and enhance collaborations in the Americas to address shared global change challenges. The SDC, as the institutionalization of the IAI's successful capacity building and knowledge generation efforts, is uniquely positioned to bring together diverse knowledge, expertise, and experience to serve member countries and the wider region.

The complex, interconnected and transboundary nature of global change requires the efficient implementation of science diplomacy concepts, tools, and processes - a topic of growing interest worldwide and in the Americas, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean region to strengthen science and technology to support the achievement of SDGs. The purpose of the SDC is to act as a regional reference and resource to support science diplomacy-related activities such as capacity building, research, exchange of best practices, networks, dialogues and projects. It aims to promote collaboration between scientists and decision-makers in the Americas and enhance the capacity of professionals and institutions to understand and implement science diplomacy. The Center also aims to contribute to the development of national and regional science diplomacy strategies, programs, effective public policies and support governments in the region to develop science diplomacy mechanisms to address global environmental change of national, regional and transboundary priorities.


  • The Science Diplomacy Center shall contribute to the maintenance of a peaceful and sustainable Americas through innovative transdisciplinary collaborations to address the region’s shared challenges and safeguard the livelihoods and well-being of future generations and the planet.



  • The Center shall enhance the capacity of Parties (IAI member states) to meet the objectives of the IAI Strategic Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals by strengthening the interface between science and policy, establishing a science diplomacy knowledge hub, and developing open, just, and equitable programs and activities for the Americas to meet the challenges of global change.



  1. Build and strengthen  capacities in science and policy through multinational collaboration and diplomacy
    1. Identify and foster a curriculum and skill set necessary to develop an effective science diplomacy community
    2. Implement the science diplomacy curriculum and skills through regional training activities to the relevant stakeholders: policy makers, diplomatic community, and other decision makers.
  2. Develop a science diplomacy knowledge hub
    1. Provision of science diplomacy knowledge, information, and resource  to respond to  the needs of diverse stakeholders
  3. Convene relevant communities (policy makers, decision makers, diplomatic community, scientists, business, civil society) to raise science-policy awareness and promote dialogue of current and emerging global change issues.
  4. Promote and facilitate evidence-based decision making by supporting science-policy communication, through multinational collaboration.
  5. Promote and facilitate regional dialogue and international cooperation on shared global change challenges
  6. Foster strategic communication to raise awareness, improve the flow of information and knowledge to various stakeholders, strengthen existing partnerships, attract new partners and funders, and engage policy makers.
  7. Promote open, just, and equitable science by facilitating the inclusion of diverse communities, knowledge, systems and networks.

Download the SDC Infosheet

Background information about the IAI relevant for the SDC Advisory Board
The first in-person meeting of the Science Diplomacy Center Advisory Board took place from 11 to 13 November in Punta de Este, Uruguay. The members of the IAI Directorate and the Advisory Board engaged in three (3) days of collaborative and strategic planning on several topics including:
  • The design and development of the Center’s strategy, programs, activities, and the relevant content and initial key training materials for building science diplomacy capacities in the region.
  • Developing a funding strategy to secure resources for the Center’s medium and long-term sustainability.
  • Strengthening current and future partnerships and collaborations with other key national and international organizations to support the SDC and its programs.

The SDC Advisory Board also had the opportunity to interact with the next generation of science diplomats and science advisors from Latin America and the Caribbean, who are fellows of the IAI Science, Technology and Policy (STeP) Fellowship Program, as the meeting overlapped with the STeP Leadership for Science Diplomacy Workshop.

The IAI launched the Science Diplomacy Center (SDC) as a pioneer initiative in the Americas. The Center will seek to develop, connect, strengthen and mobilize current science diplomacy efforts, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, through international collaboration. It will establish a platform for engaging various science advisory ecosystems from across the region in order to become an important regional resource for strengthening science diplomacy capacities, collaborations, and strategies to address global environmental change of national and regional priority. Please see the meeting report here: 

  • SDC Advisory Board Meeting Full Report, Uruguay (English)
  • SDC Advisory Board Meeting Report, Executive Summary, Uruguay (Spanish, English)

The inaugural SDC Advisory Board currently consists of 11 professionals from the Americas and abroad, including IAI Parties, SAC/SPAC members, science diplomacy experts, and representatives from policy, academia, and the private sector:

IAI Parties

  • Carlos Matsumoto, International Cooperation, Ministry of Science and Technology, Brazil (focal point)
  • Marcelo Mena, former Minister of the Environment of Chile, Chile
  • Maria Uhle, Program Director for International Activities Directorate for Geosciences National Science Foundation, focal point and IAI Executive Council Chair and Co-chair of the Belmont Forum, USA

SAC and SPAC representatives

  • Carol Franco, climate advisor to the Ministry of the Environment of the Dominican Republic, Dominican Republic
  • Javier Gracia-Garza, former Agriculture and Food Canada, Canada

IAI Associate Representative

  • Kimberly Montgomery, Director of International Affairs and Science Diplomacy at AAAS, USA

Science Diplomacy Experts

  • Frances Cólon, Senior Director of the International Climate Center for American Progress and member of President Biden's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, USA
  • Ambassador Carmen Claramunt, deputy director of the Diplomatic School at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Costa Rica
  • Marga Gual Soler, Head of Science Diplomacy Capacity Building, Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) Switzerland, and Senior Advisor for the IAI Science Diplomacy Center.
  • Janina Onuki, professor at the Institute of International Relations of the University of São Paulo and PI of the consultancy team developing the initial training materials for the SDC, Brazil
  • Nathan Hotaling, Senior Data Scientist at National Institutes of Health & SVP Data Science Axle Informatics, USA.


For more information please email

The IAI held a hybrid Science Diplomacy Center (SDC) Advisory Board Meeting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC, USA from 6 to 7 March 2023 to follow-up on discussions from its first in-person meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

The members of the IAI Directorate and the Advisory Board engaged in collaborative and strategic planning discussions to advance on agenda items including:

  • Identifying the proposed top 2-3 priority/flagship activities for SDC
  • Discussing the timeline for executing these priority activities
  • Identifying opportunities for sustainably funding the Center’s priority activities - SDC Fundraising Strategy
  • Identifying key partners, stakeholders, Parties and IAI Associates to support the Centers’ priority activities

The output of this hybrid advisory board meeting was the decision to engage the IAI member states in the co-design process to determine the flagship or priority activities of the Center. Likewise, as a result of the initial work of the SDC Advisory Board, a draft SDC working plan has been developed, which will be presented to the IAI Parties at CoP 31. Please see the meeting report here:

  • SDC Advisory Board Meeting Report Executive Summary, Washington DC (Spanish, English)

The SDC Advisory Board Meeting also coincided with the AAAS Annual Meeting where members of the IAI Directorate presented in the session “Science Diplomacy Fellowships for Stronger Public Policies” on 4 March at 2:30-3:30pm EST.

Science Diplomacy Center Side Event

The IAI Directorate was pleased to invite national representatives and observers attending the 31st meeting of the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Conference of the Parties to a science diplomacy side event held on 21 June 2023 at 17:00-18:30.


The objectives of this event were to present the vision, mission, and goals of the IAI’s recently launched Science Diplomacy Center (SDC), discuss regional case studies on science diplomacy, identify needs in capacity building and processes related to science-policy, and explore how the Center can best support national and regional priorities as identified by Parties. Other information on the SDC can be found here:



This side event not only facilitated the engagement with member states, but discussions also identified the top three (3) flagship activities of the Center for the next three (3) years. The event was designed to ensure active participation, facilitate dynamic discussions on specific topics related to science diplomacy and the role of the Science Diplomacy Center in the region, allowing for a diverse range of perspectives to be heard. This ensured that member states not only collaboratively designed the Center's initiatives, but also reinforced their ownership and engagement in the SDC's activities. Please see below a summary of the event and accompanying presentations:


  • Marcella Ohira, Deputy Executive Director and Director of Capacity Building, IAI (EnglishSpanish)
  • Hector Guzman, Marine Biologist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) (Video)


Science Diplomacy Training Program for Policy Makers in the Americas

Workshop Topic: Introduction to Science Diplomacy

Date: 16-21 October 2023

Location: Panama City, Panama

The inaugural Introduction to Science Diplomacy training workshop is organised by the Science Diplomacy Center (SDC) and sponsored by the National Secretariat of Science, Technology, and Innovation (SENACYT), Panama. The program, including its associated training workshops, aims to enable government officials, science advisors, and experts in the Americas, particularly Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, to support national and multilateral science-policy processes. Likewise, it aims to foster dialogue and collaborations that can effectively address shared global challenges faced by the Americas.


  • To support key decision makers, and government officials in the region with an introduction to science diplomacy knowledge, skills, tools and networks to jointly tackle key priority topics related to global environmental change (GEC) challenges of the Americas such as biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, and climate change.
  • To promote and facilitate regional dialogue and international cooperation on shared GEC challenges and understand and discuss effective governance mechanisms for science diplomacy, among participating professionals, institutions and countries.
  • To promote understanding of the role of science in policy priority areas for the region and foster understanding of the dynamics of the intergovernmental processes relevant to transboundary and multi-stakeholder global change (e.g. UNFCCC, CBD, etc) and other multilateral instruments.
  • To nurture an Inter-American science diplomacy network and community of policy and practice associated with the IAI Science Diplomacy Center.

Workshop Content & Thematic Areas

The main topic of the workshop will be an Introduction to Science Diplomacy, including:

  • Science Diplomacy concepts, tools, instruments, history, examples.
  • Science Diplomacy & Global Environmental Change in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Intergovernmental processes relevant to GEC
  • National Science Diplomacy Strategies
  • Emerging Issues in Science Diplomacy
  • Science Advice to support policy processes
  • Science Diplomacy, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Indigenous Knowledge
  • Climate Action
  • Biodiversity