How can science deliver solutions to global development problems?

Left to right: Mariette DiChristina, Klaus Kleinfelt, Subra Suresh, Ellen Kullman an Oleg Deripaska. Credit: World Economic Forum

That was the question before us at one of the panels I moderated during the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of New Champions 2013, or “Summer Davos,” the week of September 9 in Dalian, China. Of course, we all knew science could not solve all challenges by itself: public-private partnerships, the speakers agreed, are important to success. Those collaborations need to be transparent, their results need to be measurable so that success (or not) is clear, they should have strategic thinking and a bigger-picture vision but work well locally, and they should be cross-disciplinary. And while science is very much an international endeavor, funding that science can stop at boundaries.

On the panel were: Oleg V. Deripaska, CEO, RUSAL, Russian Federation; Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Alcoa; Ellen Kullman, chair of the board and CEO of DuPont; and Subra Suresh, president of Carnegie Mellon University and immediate past head of the National Science Foundation.

As you’ll see in the video below, we talked about many domains: energy security, food security, and how important it is to scale up educational opportunities for young people and to increase their mobility, the better for them to succeed individually. The focus on young people at the close of the session seemed immediately apt: Right afterward, Klaush Schwab, the founder and CEO of WEF, handed out certificates to the Young Scientists attending. Their passion and dedication to their areas of study were inspiring.