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The Group of Senior Officials (GSO) was established in 2008 by G8 Science Ministries in recognition of the potential for increased international cooperation on Global Research Infrastructures (GRIs).

Based on the mandates issued in 2008, 2013 and 2015, the Group focussed on various issues of international cooperation, including the sharing of information on plans to construct new large-scale research facilities, a framework for GRI, promoting access to GRI, and sharing scientific data and information.

In 2015 and 2017, the Group reported to the G7. In 2017 and 2019, no further specific mandates were issued. The Group decided to establish a work plan based on the latest mandate and continue an informal exchange.

The Group currently operates on a mandate received from the G7 in 2022.

The first mandate came from the ministerial meeting in Okinawa in 2008, and included:

  • the promotion of international cooperation in large-scale research facilities through the exchange of relevant information and by allowing researchers from other countries access to such facilities including wider access by industry
  • the sharing of information on plans to construct new large-scale research facilities in order to promote mutual international use by international groups or individuals to avoid international investment duplications and to facilitate cost sharing where appropriate
  • the promotion of the international mobility of human resources in science and technology to further the development of science and technology on a global scale

In its first years of work, the GSO developed a Framework to identify the key features of a Global Research Infrastructure. The GSO wrote a background report presenting the rationale of the Framework and arranged a questionnaire through which candidate projects would be able to address the Framework criteria. A Data Working Group was established and produced a White Paper on Data with five principles for an Open Data Infrastructure and effective management. 

At the G8 Science Ministers’ Meeting that took place on 12 June 2013 in London, the Science Ministers adopted the Framework and the White Paper on Data. The GSO mandate was renewed with the emphasis to concentrate on:

  • promoting the adopted Framework and continuing to exchange information on RIs which might offer opportunities for international collaboration, with specific reference to the role of RIs in addressing the Global Challenges
  • sharing information on national RI priorities and prioritisation processes
  • identifying areas of potential benefit that could be achieved through sharing of good practices;
  • establishing a representative list of GRIs open to global cooperation.

The Science Ministers invited the GSO to report in 2015 on their progress. This progress report was presented to the G7 Science Ministers’ Meeting that was held on 8-9 October 2015 in Berlin. This report included a first list of GRIs proposed by the GSO members. The Science Ministers acknowledged the document, and confirmed the GSO’s mandate while expanding it to focus on:

  • testing the GSO Framework and identifying good practices for the establishment and development of future GRIs
  • exploring the potential for existing research infrastructures to be opened up to international partners on the basis of existing legal structures
  • guaranteeing that the access to GRIs would be established on the basis of a peer review process with a focus on scientific excellence
  • achieving progress on sharing and managing scientific data and information, especially by continuing engagement with community based activities such as the Research Data Alliance (RDA)

Under this renewed mandate, the GSO was asked to present another report in 2017 to the G7 Science Ministers.

The group now operates under a renewed mandate from the G7 (November 2022).
Decision of the G7 Science Ministers “New mandate of GSO on Global Research Infrastructures