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Royal Society welcomes report on the Transit of Venus Forum

24 August 2012

Royal Society welcomes report on the Transit of Venus Forum and Prime Minister’s response

The Royal Society of New Zealand welcomes the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor’s report on the Transit of Venus Forum, and the Prime Minister’s response.

The Transit of Venus Forum, held in June in Gisborne and inspired by the late Sir Paul Callaghan, brought together scientists, business leaders, young people and iwi representatives to discuss the importance of science and research to the future of New Zealand.

In his report to the Prime Minister, Science and New Zealand’s Future: Reflections from the Transit of Venus Forum, Sir Peter Gluckman highlights the challenges discussed at the Forum around issues such as: the role of research; the importance of the full range of scholarship from natural science to the humanities and social sciences; and the importance of science literacy in dealing with the complex policy questions the country faces.

The President of the Royal Society, Professor Sir David Skegg commented on these challenges. “Most of us want New Zealand to be a prosperous and cohesive nation with a high standard of living for all. In order to achieve that we need to make optimal decisions about the resources – economic, environmental, and intellectual – that we have.

“It is heartening to see recognition of the many ways in which research advances our national well-being. Science underpins the innovation system, and the full spectrum of research from blue-skies discovery work through to commercial development all contribute to our cultural, environmental, health, and social strengths, as well as our national identity.

“We hope to see New Zealand perceived by the rest of the world as ‘clean and green’, corruption-free, and innovative. Research underpins all such aims, and we can do more to connect and promote ourselves as an innovative nation in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s speech “Science and New Zealand’s future”, Sir David Skegg said: “I would like to thank the Prime Minister for recognising the importance of science and research by confirming a continuing role for the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.

“The reappointment of the Chief Science Advisor underlines the Government’s commitment to research informing policy at the highest levels, which should assist the Government to take a strategic approach to risk assessment, to improve the effectiveness of public expenditure, and to support scientific diplomacy with key partner nations.

“In naming the new Advanced Technology Institute after Sir Paul Callaghan, a great New Zealand scientist is celebrated, and we hope the institute will put science at the heart of its innovation.”

ENDS

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