"to promote the sciences and strengthen their influence in society"

Science in Society

A knowledge-based society that gives priority to education, research and innovation has the best chances of meeting the future challenges. The Academy focuses on important social issues and appraises them from a scienctific perspective.

Thanks to its independent position and accumulated experience – not least internationally – the Academy is well positioned to play an important part in research-political discussion. Since the Academy comprises all scientific disciplines a very wide spectrum of issues can be reviewed, just as complex issues can be discussed from many different viewpoints.

New Academy statement: The need for measures to strengthen the international position of Swedish research

During the last 20 years there has been a decline in Swedish research with high international impact compared to countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the number of young Swedish researchers who publish articles of high international standard is considerably lower than in these reference countries. The Academy statement The need for measures to strengthen the international position of Swedish research identifies how Swedish research differs from the more prominent research nations in four respects. The academy consider it is high time to implement decisive measures to turn the development around if Sweden is to remain a research nation of the highest rank and calls for the implementation of a six-point programme in order to improve the quality of Swedish research.

Read the full statement (pdf)

The Academy statement is based upon the Academy report Fostering breakthrough research: A comparative study, authored by Gunnar Öquist and Mats Benner, and published in December 2012.

Download the report (pdf)

Unexpected benefits

All too often, politicians and other decision-makers reason that strategic research initiatives focusing on predetermined areas will deliver the necessary results. With this approach, we are in danger of missing the greatest breakthroughs, which in many cases are based on discoveries in open-ended research. The Academy is alarmed by the decline of recent years in conditions for open-ended research, and strongly supports initiatives to improve its funding. Without such actions, the long-term development of society will be impaired.

In the publication Unexpected benefits, the Academy aim to highlight a few examples of how basic research, without being driven by ideas about applications, has nonetheless yielded myriad everyday benefits. History is full of unexpected discoveries that paved the way for what are now self-evident features of our everyday life, such as our IT society, healthcare and drugs that keep us healthy, or new materials with fascinating properties.

The project is funded by the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation, the Olle Engkvist Foundation, the Sven and Dagmar Salén Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.  

Download Unexpected benefits (pdf)

IPCC and climate change assessment – is the science robust enough for reliable societal advice?


Panel discussion with Thomas Stocker, University of Bern, Switzerland and Stephen Schwartz, Brookhaven NL, USA. Lennart Bengtsson, University of Reading, UK and International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland. Concluding remarks by  Stefan Claesson, 1:st Vice President, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. From: Natural and man-made climate change – open sessions, 2012-05-23.

Watch the entire symposium at KVATV.se  (search on symposium title)

Statement by the Academy: Sweden needs bold, creative and pioneering basic research

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has delivered a statement to the Ministry of Education and Research ahead of the forthcoming 2012 Research and Innovation Policy Bill. It emphasises that Sweden needs bold, creative and pioneering basic research in order to safeguard the country's future prosperity and tackle the huge global challenges humanity is facing. It is the Academy's view that the government should:

  • provide quality assurance for government research appropriations
  • ensure long-term coordination of Swedish research policy
  • work to strengthen basic research in Europe
  • foster academic mobility and the long-term supply of knowledge
  • invest in individual creative researchers
  • improve infrastructure
  • rehabilitate know-how in Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology.

Read the full statement (pdf)

Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien