“A full experience based on multilateralism”

Monday, March 13, 2017

Embajadores para la ciencia

  • More photos in Flickr Album of “Ambassadors for Science”.

The scheme “Ambassadors for Science” began in May 2016 in the United Kingdom with nine couples of scientists and diplomats, who shared a few days together to learn about their different professional worlds, and to share their experiences in a last session in October 2016

One of the groups was composed by the Attaché for Transportation and Infrastructure Esteban Pacha and the Attaché for Maritime Affairs Miguel Núñez, both from the Office for Transportation, and the engineer and Manager in Software Quality in the British multinational in telecommunications Metaswitch Networks Ernesto Abad. 

How did their visits go?

Esteban visited Ernesto’s company on the 19th May. He was surprised for the high interest of the company on “Ambassadors for Science”. In fact, Esteban was able to meet with up to four directors of this multinational: the Director of Engineering, the Director of International Development, the Director of Patents, and the Director of Interoperability. After these meetings and carry out some practical tests in the lab, Esteban attended the Annual Conference on Quality Verification 2016 of the company, in which Ernesto participated as a speaker. For Esteban, this experience was “a total immersion on the scientific and technology activity applied to highly-specialised industrial processes”. 

On the other hand, Ernesto went with Miguel as a member of the Spanish delegation in the 12th Session of the Joint IMO/ITU Expert Groups on Maritime Radiocommunication Matters, at the International Maritime Organization headquarters in London, on the 13th July. In an experience that he described as “fascinating and unforgettable”, Ernesto witnessed a multilateral debate between delegates from different countries that went on not only in the meeting rooms, but also in the corridors. 

What have they learnt?

For Esteban, the scheme has been “a full experience based on multilateralism: on the one hand, because of the contact of a public administration with a multinational; and on the other hand, because Ernesto witnessed the multilateral agreement between countries and the importance of the diplomatic efforts in the action of governments”. 

Ernesto valued his experience because he realized “how much effort and hard work are needed to reach international agreements”. The IMU session debate was around the emergency call protocol in merchant ships, the radio communication equipment to use and how signals were to be transmitted to radars. Although Ernesto was able to follow the technical discussion, he reckoned he needed the guidance of Miguel to detect the subtleties of the political interests of each country. 

How can their own fields interact with each other?

Esteban acknowledged the shared experience with Ernesto because both of them have an engineering background and because transportation and telecommunications are much related to each other. He also noted how much multinationals can benefit from the expertise and support of diplomats and foreign policy action of governments, especially for those challenges in the international expansion to new markets or countries with uncertain politics or situations. 

Ernesto stated that the Governments have an impact on industrial activities through the regulation of standards and protocols. His visit to the IMU showed him “a clear example of how international politics and diplomacy influences in the technical development of telecommunication protocols”. 

Listen to Esteban Pachá and Ernesto Abad’s speeches during the last session. 

About “Ambassadors for Science”

“Ambassadors for Science” is organized by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the Office for Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Spanish Embassy in London, with the support of the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU). This programme fits within the FECYT’s priority lines of increasing science outreach and science culture, and supporting the internationalization of Spanish science. The scheme is a pilot experience with the aim of extending it to other diplomatic missions and even to the Congreso de los Diputados and other scientific institutions in Spain. 

The scheme has been covered on Twitter with #Amb4Sci.


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