Call for early/mid-career researchers: European Crucible 2022

The European Crucible is a leadership and development programme for early/mid-career researchers from Scotland and Europe. The call for applications to participate in the 2022 European Crucible is now open to applicants from European institutions until 21st February 2022.

The European Crucible was established to stimulate new international opportunities for early/mid-career researchers. Developed from the national ‘Scottish Crucible’ programme and working with the Scottish Research Pools, European Crucible seeks to establish new networks for aspiring research leaders, and to facilitate international collaborations for interdisciplinary research initiatives and innovations.

Who should apply

The call is open to early/mid-career researchers employed in Scotland or Europe, and carrying out research in science, engineering, technology, medicine, healthcare, arts, design, humanities, business, or social and political science. Ambitious university lecturers and readers (i.e. assistant and associate professors), research fellows and equivalents in research institutes and industry with experience of managing their own research, are encouraged to apply.

How it works 

The Crucible is an intensive, interactive, programme comprising four virtual workshops, or ‘labs’, held over three weeks. The labs will be facilitated by experienced science journalists, Vivienne Parry and Quentin Cooper, and will include contributions from a range of experts from research-related sectors. Crucible participants will be asked to present a mini-poster of their research areas and interests, and there will be networking sessions and pitching practice before a mock panel of real funding experts.

The 2022 European Crucible is a virtual programme supported by the Scottish Government via the Scottish Funding Council. Once awarded a place on the European Crucible Event, all training, networking and administration costs for participants will be covered.

For more information on how to apply, please refer to the programme’s website.

Breakthrough Prize Opens Public Nominations for 2023

The public nomination period for the 2023 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics is now open. Nominations can be submitted online today through April 1, 2022. While self-nominations are prohibited, anyone may nominate another person. The nomination forms and rules are available at breakthroughprize.org.

For the 11th year, the Breakthrough Prize, recognized as the world’s largest science prize, will honor top scientists, handing out three prizes in Life Sciences, one in Fundamental Physics and one in Mathematics. Each prize comes with a $3 million award. In addition, six New Horizons Prizes, each for $100,000, will be available to promising early-career researchers in the fields of Physics and Mathematics. Nominations will also be taken for the Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize, an annual $50,000 award presented to early-career women mathematicians who have completed their PhDs within the previous two years.

The Breakthrough Prize, dubbed ‘The Oscars of Science,’ hosts an annual live, globally televised gala awards ceremony to celebrate the laureates’ achievements and to foster broad popular support for scientific endeavors and inspire the next generation of scientists. Due to the pandemic, the ceremonies to honor the 2021 and 2022 laureates were postponed. The next ceremony is scheduled for late 2022. The cohort of 2022 laureates was announced in September 2021.

For the sixth year, the Breakthrough Prize will partner with two prestigious institutions – the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) and ResearchGate – to directly engage with researchers and the science community.

ALLEA brings together more than 50 academies from over 40 countries, with members leading scholarly enquiry across all fields of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

ResearchGate is the professional network for researchers. Over 20 million researchers use researchgate.net to share and discover research, build their networks, and advance their careers. Based in Berlin, ResearchGate was founded in 2008. Its mission is to connect the world of science and make research open to all. ResearchGate members are encouraged to nominate their peers for the 2023 prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics.

Selection Committees are composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates, who select the winners from the list of candidates generated during the nomination period.

 

New Chair of Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Meanwhile, after eight years of exceptional leadership, Cori Bargmann is stepping down as Chair of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. One of the inaugural winners of the Prize in 2013, Bargmann has played a pivotal role in its establishment and development. She is succeeded by Huda Yahya Zoghbi, winner of the Prize in 2017 and Founding Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute in Houston.

 

Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

One 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics ($3 million) will recognize an individual or individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists – theoretical and experimental – working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe. The prize can be shared among any number of scientists. Nominations are also open for the New Horizons in Physics Prize, which will include up to three $100,000 awards for early-career researchers who have already produced important work in their fields.

The Selection Committee for the 2023 physics prizes includes: Eric Adelberger, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Charles Bennett, Sheperd Doeleman, Michael Green, Jens Gundlach, Alan Guth, Blayne Heckel, Joseph Incandela, Charles Kane, Hidetoshi Katori, Alexei Kitaev, Andrei Linde, Arthur McDonald, Juan Maldacena, Eugene Mele, Lyman Page, Saul Perlmutter, Alexander Polyakov, Adam Riess, John Schwarz, Nathan Seiberg, Ashoke Sen, Eva Silverstein, David Spergel, Andrew Strominger, Kip Thorne, Cumrun Vafa, Ewine F. van Dishoeck, Yifang Wang, Rainer Weiss, Edward Witten, and Jun Ye.

 

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Three 2023 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences ($3 million each) will be awarded to individuals who have made transformative advances in understanding living systems and extending human life. One of the prizes is designated for work contributing to the understanding of Parkinson’s disease or other neurodegenerative disorders.

The Selection Committee for the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences includes: David Allis, James Allison, Victor Ambros, David Baker, Shankar Balasubramanian, Cornelia I. Bargmann, Alim Louis Benabid, Frank Bennett, David Botstein, Edward Boyden, Lewis Cantley, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Zhijian “James” Chen, Joanne Chory, Don Cleveland, Hans Clevers, Karl Deisseroth, Titia de Lange, Mahlon DeLong, Jennifer Doudna, Catherine Dulac, Stephen Elledge, Napoleone Ferrara, Jeffrey Friedman, Michael Hall, John Hardy, Ulrich Hartl, Helen Hobbs, Arthur Horwich, David Julius, Katalin Karikó, Jeffery W. Kelly, David Klenerman, Adrian Krainer, Eric Lander, Robert Langer, Virginia Lee, Richard Lifton, Dennis Lo, Pascal Mayer, Kazutoshi Mori, Kim Nasmyth, Harry Noller, Roeland Nusse, Yoshinori Ohsumi, Svante Pääbo, Gary Ruvkun, Charles Sawyers, Alexander Varshavsky, Bert Vogelstein, Peter Walter, Robert Weinberg, Drew Weissman, Shinya Yamanaka, Richard Youle, Xiaowei Zhuang, and Huda Zoghbi.

 

Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics

One 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics ($3 million) will be awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics. Nominations are also open for the New Horizons in Mathematics Prize, which will include up to three $100,000 awards for early-career researchers who have already produced important work in their fields. In addition, up to three $50,000 Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes will be presented to early-career women mathematicians who have completed their PhDs within the previous two years (2019, 2020).

The Selection Committee for the 2023 mathematics prizes includes: Ian Agol, Alex Eskin, Simon Donaldson, Martin Hairer, Maxim Kontsevich, Christopher Hacon, Vincent Lafforgue, Jacob Lurie, James McKernan, Takuro Mochizuki, Terence Tao, and Richard Taylor.

Information on the Breakthrough Prizes is available at breakthroughprize.org.

Final Conference: ‘Health Inequalities: New Methods, Better Insights?’

Hosted virtually by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) on 8 December, the conference served as the official presentation of the final report produced within the cross-disciplinary ALLEA-FEAM Health Inequalities project.

 

The ALLEA-FEAM report presented at the conference highlights new analytic methods that can help the scientific community to better understand the causal relationship of certain social determinants, such as education, occupational class, and income level, in generating and reproducing health inequalities in Europe. Examples of such new methods include “counterfactual” approaches to assess the causal effect of socio-economic conditions on health, and “natural experiments” to evaluate the to evaluate the impact of policy interventions on health inequalities.

The conference was chaired by Professor Johannes Siegrist, Medical Faculty of the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and member of the ALLEA-FEAM Scientific Committee on Health Inequalities. Speakers included Professor Johan Mackenbach, Director of the Department of Public Health at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and Chair of the ALLEA-FEAM Scientific Committee; Professor Sjaak Neefjes, Professor of Chemical Immunology at Leiden University Medical Center and KNAW Board Member; and Professor Ana Diez Roux, Professor of Epidemiology at Drexel University, among other experts.

Professor Annette Grüters-Kieslich delivers the closing remarks on behalf of ALLEA.

The closing remarks were delivered by Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Charité and ALLEA Vice Pre-sident, Annette Grüters-Kieslich. Professor Grüters-Kieslich praised the interdisciplinary nature of the study and called for a rethinking of research into health inequalities not only at a national level, but also at a European level, as the mechanisms and consequences of inequalities in health transcend political borders. On the value of the report, Professor Grüters-Kieslich remarked:

I am confident that if stakeholders from research, policy, and the wider society come together, there is a potential to see a timely change for the better. The valuable report certainly delivers the necessary data to facilitate immediate actions.

This conference represents the conclusion of the joint ALLEA-FEAM-KNAW project on the topic of health inequalities. You can watch the full conference below or on the KNAW website.

 

 

Read the ALLEA-FEAM report ‘Health Inequalities Research: New methods, better insights?’: Short version / Full report.

Learn more about the ALLEA-FEAM-KNAW joint project on health inequalities here.

 

A Patent Waiver Is Not a Silver Bullet in the Pursuit of Vaccine Equity

Rather than a World Trade Organization patent waiver, Covid-19 vaccine equity requires measures with immediate effect on the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines in the Global South and improved compulsory licensing mechanisms.

The low level of Covid-19 vaccination in the Global South is ethically unacceptable and risks prolonging the pandemic. The patent waiver in discussion since 2020 within the World Trade Organization (WTO) will not solve these vaccination bottlenecks in the short-term. Instead, additional measures should be adopted to accelerate local manufacturing and distribution of vaccines in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), ramp up investment in vaccination campaigns, and facilitate the compulsory licensing of patents and transfer of know-how.

ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, released a statement today assessing the legal hurdles of the current patent waiver proposal for Covid-19 vaccines within the WTO. It also proposes alternative mechanisms to achieve vaccine equity and speed up the transfer of technology and know-how for vaccine roll-out across LMICs.

In particular, the statement advocates for (i) practical measures that could accelerate the production, export, distribution, and administration of vaccines worldwide and ii) an international mechanism affording additional scrutiny of the manufacturing bottlenecks combined with new measures in the intellectual property (IP) framework such as flexibility for the compulsory licensing of patents.

According to the experts, the current co-sponsored waiver proposal at the WTO is “not well-tailored to the urgent vaccine problem” and would require further national legislation to have any effect in practice. The statement upholds that a WTO waiver would only remove the obligation for WTO Member States to grant IP protection, but would not ensure that stakeholders can effectively benefit from the invention and related know-how.

“A waiver (in the sense of the co-sponsored proposal at the WTO) of IP protection, including of trade secrets, would never make this know how publicly accessible, but only remove the possibility for companies enjoying confidentiality protection to sue for trade secret infringement”, the experts argue.

There are other IPR measures to be considered instead. The WTO waiver debate has opened the floor to other IP fixes that are needed in the field of health. The WTO rules on compulsory licensing of health-related patents should be amended. Important adjustments to patents and trade secret protections should also be adopted by the EU, its Member States, and other countries. In particular, improved procedures and institutional design should help to streamline the process for compulsory licensing on pharmaceutical products, including vaccines.

Read the ALLEA Statement

About this Statement

This ALLEA statement has been prepared by ALLEA’s Permanent Working Group Intellectual Property Rights (PWGIPR) with Professor Alain Strowel as principal author. Through its working groups, ALLEA provides input on behalf of European academies of sciences and humanities to pressing societal, scientific and science-policy debates and their underlying legislation. With its work, ALLEA seeks to ensure that science and research in Europe can excel and serve the interests of society.

 

UN Proclaims 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development

We need more basic sciences to achieve the Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This is the message sent to the world by the United Nations General Assembly on 2 December 2021. Member States approved by consensus the resolution 76/A/L.12 promulgating the year 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD 2022).

With this resolution, the United Nations General Assembly “invites all [its] Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other global, regional and subregional organizations, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including academia, civil society, inter alia, international and national nongovernmental organizations, individuals and the private sector, to observe and raise awareness of the importance of basic sciences for sustainable development, in accordance with national priorities”.

The United Nations General Assembly motivated its decision with “the high value for humankind of basic sciences”, and with the fact that “enhanced global awareness of, and increased education in, the basic sciences is vital to attain sustainable development and to improve the quality of life for people all over the world”. It also stressed that “basic sciences and emerging technologies respond to the needs of humankind by providing access to information and increasing the health and well-being of individuals, communities, and societies”.

The successes and difficulties of the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic have been for two years a stark reminder of this importance of basic sciences, such as (but not limited to) biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and anthropology.

The vote is the result of the mobilization of the international scientific community, led since 2017 by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), CERN (The European Laboratory for Particle Physics), and 26 other international scientific unions and research organizations from different parts of the world, under the auspices of UNESCO.

Over 90 national and international science academies, learned societies, scientific networks, research and education centers are also supporting this initiative.
They will organize events and activities all over the planet during this special year, to showcase and improve the links between basic sciences and the 17 SDGs. The resolution was proposed to the United Nations General Assembly by Honduras, and co-sponsored by 36 other countries. Its vote confirms resolution 40/C 76 adopted unanimously by UNESCO General Conference, 25 November 2019.

The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD2022) will be officially inaugurated with an opening conference 30 June – 1 July 2022 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Events and activities will be organized around the world until 30 June 2023. ALLEA is an active supporter of the project and part of the network of international science organizations behind this initiative.

UNESCO General Conference Adopts Recommendation on Open Science

The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science has been adopted at the 41st session of the UNESCO General Conference on 23 November 2021, making it the first international framework on open science. This follows a resolution from the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2019, where 193 Member States tasked UNESCO with the development of an international standard-setting instrument on Open Science.

In developing the Recommendation on Open Science, UNESCO gathered contributions through Multistakeholder Consultations. A global online consultation on Open Science was conducted between February and July 2020 in the form of an online survey, which was open to all stakeholders and was available in English, French, and Spanish.

ALLEA participated in the design of this survey, which was coordinated by the International Science Council. As part of the UNESCO Open Science Partnership, the ALLEA Open Science Task Force also responded to the UNESCO Multistakeholder Consultations on Open Science with a statement submitted on 15 December 2020, which you can find here.

The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science complements the 2017 Recommendation on Science and Scientific Research. It also builds upon the UNESCO Strategy on Open Access to Scientific Information and Research and the new UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources.

 

Aim of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science

The aim of the UNESCO Recommendation is to provide an international framework for open science policy and practice that recognises disciplinary and regional differences in open science perspectives, takes into account academic freedom, gender-transformative approaches and the specific challenges of scientists and other open science actors in different countries and in particular in developing countries, and contributes to reducing the digital, technological and knowledge divides existing between and within countries.

The Recommendation outlines a common definition, shared values, principles and standards for open science at the international level and proposes a set of actions conducive to a fair and equitable operationalisation of open science for all at the individual, institutional, national, regional and international levels.

To achieve its aim, the key objectives and areas of action of the UNESCO Recommendation are as follows:

i. promoting a common understanding of open science, associated benefits and challenges, as well as diverse paths to open science;
ii. developing an enabling policy environment for open science;
iii. investing in open science infrastructures and services;
iv. investing in human resources, training, education, digital literacy and capacity building for open science;
v. fostering a culture of open science and aligning incentives for open science;
vi. promoting innovative approaches for open science at different stages of the scientific process;
vii. promoting international and multi-stakeholder cooperation in the context of open science and with view to reducing digital, technological and knowledge gaps.

 

Read UNESCO Press Release

Read the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science

Read the Report on UNESCO’s Global Online Consultation on Open Science

Read ALLEA’s Recent Statement on Equity in Open Access

Learn more about ALLEA’s Open Science Task Force

 

PERITIA Lectures: 10 Speakers, 1400+ Participants, 200+ Questions

The PERITIA lectures series [Un]Truths: Trust in an Age of Disinformation came to an end this Tuesday with the final lecture ‘Expertise, Democracy and the Politics of Trust’ by Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School). Her lecture brought the series to a close with a reflection on the changing role of expertise across different political cultures.

Over 1400 attendees with more than 200 questions participated throughout the 10 lectures led by prominent academies from across Europe and the United States. The series explored the concepts of trust and truth in light of current events and included Q&A sessions moderated by Dr Shane Bergin and Prof Maria Baghramian (University College Dublin).

In the first part of the series, from April to June, participants were able to attend and interact with Naomi Oreskes (Harvard University), Quassim Cassam (Warwick University), Michael Lynch (University of Connecticut), Heather Douglas (Michigan State University) and Dan Sperber (Institut Jean Nicod).

The topics addressed ranged from trust in science, the value of truth in democracies or science advice systems, to conspiracy theories or cognitive science questions related to trust and argumentation.

The Autumn series, from October to November, brought together Maya J. Goldenberg (University of Guelph), Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), Philip Kitcher (Columbia University), Åsa Wikforss (Stockholm University) and Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard Kennedy School).

In this round of lectures, vaccine hesitancy, the lack of action against climate change, the impact of social media and disinformation on trust in science or the concept of knowledge resistance were discussed.

All biographies, abstracts, videos and reading materials are available online. The series was hosted by the University College Dublin and the American University of Armenia and counted with the support of ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities.

PERITIA is an EU-funded research project investigating public trust in expertise. ALLEA is one of the partners of the consortium, which is composed by 11 organisations from across Europe.

Visit PERITIA Lectures Website

Watch PERITIA Lectures on YouTube

Future of Science Communication Conference: Interactive Portal Now Available

On 24-25 June 2021, ALLEA partnered with Wissenschaft im Dialog to organise the Future of Science Communication Conference. Over 1000 participants joined virtual workshops, panels and lectures that sought to find ways to make science communication more effective and impactful. The event’s documentation is now available online in an interactive portal.

 

The portal allows people to revisit many of the 3 keynotes, 6 panels, 10 workshops, and 3 lightning talk sessions that were held throughout the conference, as well as to view the posters depicting the main talking points of each session.

The portal is arranged topically based on the main themes that were discussed throughout the two-day conference. Some of the themes include Fake News, which features a panel discussion with Prof. Dan Larhammar, Chair of ALLEA’s Scientific Committee on Tackling Science Disinformation; and Science & Politics, which features a panel discussion moderated by ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno. Other themes covered in the conference that can be explored in the portal are Research & Practice, Trust in Science and Citizen Science, each with their respective audiovisual content.

You can also find demographic information, such as geographic location and professional background, of the 1109 attendees of the conference in the Info & Sources section.

The international conference brought together actors from research and practice of science communication. Its goal was to sensitise the various stakeholders from science, science communication and politics to the respective challenges and to provide an impetus for stronger networking and transfer between the ‘science of science communication’ and European practitioner communities.

You can read our summary of the conference here and watch all the complete panels here. You can also read the summaries of Day 1 and Day 2 of the event published at the German science communication portal Wissenschaftskommunition.

 

New Methods to Study Health Inequalities Require Investments in Data Infrastructures, European Academies Report Says

A new generation of scientific methods are helping to better understand health inequalities in Europe, but investments in data infrastructures are required to make use of its full potential for informing policymaking, European academies say in a new report.

The COVID-19 pandemic has struck disadvantaged groups in society much more severely than others. As a result, the health gap between socio-economic groups has widened, exacerbating inequalities long known to researchers. A better understanding of these inequalities is therefore more important than ever.

In the Health Inequalities Research: New methods, better insights? report published today, experts from the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) evaluate scientific methods to study health inequalities with the aim of helping to narrow the health gap across Europe.

“In many European countries, differences in average life expectancy at birth between people with a lower and a higher level of education, occupation, or income amount to between 5 and more than 10 years, and differences in healthy life expectancy often amount to even more than 15 years”, the document says.

Issues in the field of health inequalities are not new to policymakers and have, over the past four decades, been studied extensively by researchers from various disciplines. However, there is still substantial uncertainty about several important issues, such as the extent to which socioeconomic disadvantage causally affects health, and the effectiveness of interventions to reduce health inequalities.

In the newly published report, experts on the scientific committee, chaired by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), conclude that a range of new analytic methods are a “valuable addition to health inequalities researchers’ tool-box” and should be used as a complement to conventional research methods to resolve these issues and reduce the uncertainties.

Examples of such new methods include “counterfactual” approaches to assess the causal effect of socio-economic conditions on health, and “natural experiments” to evaluate the effect of interventions on health inequalities.

Research using these new methods can play an important role in informing policies to narrow the health gap but requires investments in data infrastructures which allow these methods to be applied, the experts highlight.

The experts therefore call on the European Commission and on national governments to support research on health inequalities, including research that takes advantage of variation in socioeconomic conditions, health outcomes and policies between European countries.

Final conference “Health inequalities: new methods, better insights?” on 8 December

The debate on health inequalities research methods began in 2018 and had as its starting point a discussion paper prepared by the ALLEA-FEAM interdisciplinary scientific committee. Under the chairmanship of Johan Mackenbach of the KNAW, the experts on the committee developed this work further over the last few years and as a result, produced the report.

The official presentation of the Health Inequalities Research: New methods, better insights? report will take place at a symposium to be held on 8 December 2021, 13:30 – 17:30 CET. The event, hosted by KNAW, will be organised in Amsterdam in a hybrid format.

Under the theme How can new research methods help address COVID-related health inequalities?, researchers and policymakers will discuss how to capitalise on new research methods in the field of health inequalities.

Registration and Conference Programme

Download publication (short version, full report)

ALLEA Awards Legal Scholar Helen Keller at the 2021 Madame de Staël Prize Lecture

On Saturday 6 November, ALLEA celebrated its annual Madame de Staël Prize Lecture. On this occassion, the 2021 Madame de Staël Prize laureate, Professor Helen Keller, accepted her award and delivered the lecture “Climate Change in Human Rights Courts”. The event was hosted by the Swiss Embassy in Berlin and took place in a hybrid format as part of the Berlin Science Week.

ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno hands over trophy to Professor Helen Keller, the 2021 Madame de Staël Prize laureate.

The Madame de Staël Prize Lecture is an annual scientific event hosted by ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities. Each year, the Madame de Staël Prize laureate delivers an interactive lecture related to their own research and reflecting on current affairs in the European political and scientific landscape. This year’s laureate, legal scholar and judge Helen Keller, delivered a lecture titled ‘Climate Change in Human Rights Courts: Overcoming Procedural Hurdles in Transboundary Environmental Cases’. Her lecture was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session.

Ambassador Seger delivers the welcome remarks

The event was opened with welcome remarks by this year’s host, Dr Paul R Seger, the Swiss Ambassador to Germany. Ambassador Seger, also an international lawyer by training, celebrated the fact that Professor Helen Keller was the first Swiss scholar to receive the Madame de Staël Prize, and commended her for her work as a legal academic, a lawyer, and as a judge at the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR), where she served from 2011 to 2020. Ambassador Seger also emphasised that through Professor Keller, the work of the ECtHR, and indirectly, also the work of the Council of Europe were being recognised as institutions whose contributions to human rights, to the rule of law, and to European cohesion deserve to be highlighted.

This was followed by a laudatory speech delivered by ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno. Professor Loprieno highlighted Professor Helen Keller’s important contributions to the development and the consolidation of human rights jurisprudence in Europe, and for her relentless commitment to fundamental rights:

Professor Antonio Loprieno delivers the laudation speech in honour of Professor Helen Keller.

“Professor Keller stood out among a dozen other candidates because she not only excelled in the theoretical and academic field, having led research projects and held teaching positions for the past 20 years, but she also greatly contributed to Europe’s political and social life, serving at the United Nations Human Rights Committee between 2008 and 2011, at the ECtHR in Strasbourg between 2011 and 2020, and at the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina since December 2020.”

Professor Loprieno also stressed that the Madame de Staël Prize, named after Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (commonly known as ‘Madame de Staël’), represents the values of inquisitiveness, European intellectualism, and individual as well as academic freedom, values that were embodied by Madame de Staël herself, who suffered the consequences of violence and political persecution in the 18th Century for the ideas she espoused and openly advocated for, but remained unshacken in her convictions.

 

Procedural Hurdles in Climate Change Litigations

 

Professor Helen Keller delivers the 2021 Madame de Staël Prize Lecture.

In her lecture ‘Climate Change in Human Rights Courts: Overcoming Procedural Hurdles in Transboundary Environmental Cases’, Professor Helen Keller introduced 3 procedural admissibility hurdles that can pose particular challenges for climate change cases brought before court. As Professor Keller explained, before the ECtHR can judge a case on the merits, it must check whether all the admissibility requirements have been met. More than 90% of all cases at the ECtHR fail to comply with admissibility requirements, which means the cases are declared inadmissible before they can be judged on the merits. Respecting the admissibility requirements is also important for the legitimacy of the Court, as these are the fundamental rules for the interaction between the Court and the Member States.

The first procedural hurdle Professor Keller introduced involves the demonstratation by the applicants that they have exhausted the domestic remedies; the second hurdle requires applicants to succesfully establish that they have victim status; the third hurdle requires applicants to meet their burden of proof to show that they face a significant disadvantage. For each of these hurdles, Professor Keller highlighted that there are important exceptions that have been made in previous cases, which can serve as legal precedent for future climate litigation cases.

As a conclusion, Professor Keller remarked that:

“National and international courts are being challenged in climate cases. The devil lies in the proverbial details of many admissibility requirements. For the ECtHR, this means that it has to set new standards for various admissibility requirements in the light of the climate crisis. This is possible, but the Court must handle these questions carefully so that the Strasbourg judges cannot be accused of activism, which could endanger their legitimacy.”

Professor Keller’s lecture was followed by an interactive panel discussion, moderated by Professor Başak Çalı, Professor of International Law at the Hertie School and Co-Director of the School’s Centre for Fundamental Rights. She was joined by Professor Felix Ekardt, Head of the Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy, and Professor of Public Law and Legal Philosophy at Rostock University; and by Dr Adam Levy, Doctor in Atmospheric Physics (University of Oxford), Science Journalist, and Climate Communicator.

The panel dug a little deeper on the 3 procedural hurdles mentioned in Professor Keller’s lecture, analysing them from a legal, but also political and climate science perspective. The floor was then opened for questions from attendees at the Swiss Embassy and for those who joined the event virtually.

The panel was moderated by Professor Başak Çalı (Hertie School) and compossed by Professor Helen Keller, Professor Felix Ekardt (Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy), and Dr Adam Levy (Science Journalist, and Climate Communicator).

 

This event was hosted in a hybrid format in the context of the 2021 Berlin Science Week. You can watch the full livestream below.

 

 

Download event programme