Plenary Session 1: Research Infrastructures for Global Challenges

This session sets the tone for the whole of the conference while the other sessions discuss specific examples of challenges that need to be tackled for both single-site and distributed global facilities.

Research Infrastructures (RIs) play an increasingly important role in the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge. They are key instruments in bringing together a wide diversity of stakeholders to look for solutions to many of the challenges society is facing today. RIs offer unique research services to users from different countries, attract young people to science, and help in shaping multidisciplinary scientific communities.

Research Infrastructures span all thematic areas such as Physical Sciences and Engineering (telescopes, accelerators, lasers), Bio-Medical Sciences (infrastructures for molecular biology, microbes, bio-databases), Energy (green energy reactors and special lasers), Environmental Sciences (aircrafts and other infrastructures for monitoring biodiversity, the atmosphere, the poles, and the seabed), and Social Sciences and Humanities (cultural databases, content resources and services for social phenomena, history, cultural heritage, linguistics, and the arts). They include e-Infrastructures, which traverse and support all the RI thematic areas, including advanced and high-speed networks, computational infrastructures for simulation and analysis of complex problems and data infrastructures for storage, preservation, discovery and analysis of datasets and publications.

In some cases, the complexity and the high development, construction and operation costs of such facilities, or simply the global nature of the scientific challenges they address, makes it impossible for one country or region alone to build and operate them. Then, it becomes crucial to make concerted efforts at the international level for the realisation of Global Research Infrastructures. Their attractiveness relies on their capacity to address the research needs of world-wide scientific communities by combining the best available expertise, human capital, and technological and financial resources in the relevant scientific areas.

This conference continues the discussion around the questions raised in ICRI2012 and takes stock on the current developments towards finding the proper answers.

- Why do we need global research infrastructures? Which types of world-class infrastructures are best suited to a global efforts?

- How do we increase the use of these facilities and how do we support access to them based on excellence?

- How do we strengthen international cooperation in the implementation, governance and operation of research infrastructures?

- How do we nurture synergies between research infrastructures from different disciplines and how do we promote interdisciplinary approach?

- How do we manage large international Research Infrastructures focused on global challenges?

- How do we increase awareness of the education and training possibilities that Research Infrastructures offer?

- How do we tackle data management problems; how do we address the distributed nature of either the facilities themselves or their user communities?