10.03.2014 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

One step closer towards a science, technology and innovation policy for Iraq

Iraqi scientists in a lab in Ramadi during the 1980s © UNESCO

Iraq is closer than ever to the establishment of a comprehensive policy for science, technology and innovation policy after the successful completion of a UNESCO supported workshop for main actors in the STI area early this week.

With the participation of the task force appointed by the council of ministers for this particular project, including representatives from the Ministries of Science and Technology, Industry and Minerals, and Higher Education and Scientific Research from both Baghdad and Kurdistan, the workshop that UNESCO organized from 6 to 10 March 2014 in Amman, Jordan, resulted in a harmonization of different approaches and modalities, and an agreement on a general framework to draft an STI policy that responds to the different sectorial needs, and that is in line with the objectives adopted in the country’s National Development Plan for the years 2013-2017.

Following an inclusive SWOT analysis of different sectors, and after "Formulating Iraq's science, technology, and innovation policy - Framework and agenda action" last year, this workshop that was attended by a dedicated task force assigned particularly for this task was in fact an essential milestone in drafting this Policy.

During five days, participants explored priorities and challenges in the fields of science, technology and innovation in Iraq, identified applicable processes for effective interaction between all related stakeholders in formulating this policy, and agreed on establishing a drafting committee, as well as a timeframe to draft and validate the final document.

Members of this Iraqi panel were also introduced to similar experiences through a special presentation showcasing the case studies of Jordan and Lebanon, where a very comparable project was implemented with the support of UNESCO. This enriching session allowed them to better understand the complexity of setting national research policies, and the lessons learned from this practice.

"After more than three years of hard work, we can say that we attended the tangible phases of actually drafting this policy", stated the senior depute minister of Science and Technology , Samir Raouf. "This policy will lay the foundations of national research and innovation, and will establish for a very promising future in these regards", he added.

"As a researcher and an expert, I really see that this project is a real opportunity for change", commented the representative of the director general in the Ministry of Science and Technology Saadi Al-Naseri. "It gives a new hope for young future researchers and talented innovators, for them to believe that there is a bright future for research and innovation in Iraq", he concluded, as he praised UNESCO for its efforts and proven commitment through the long process of this project.

Once a regional leader in scientific research and technological innovation, Iraq gradually lost its institutional and human capital due to wars and a crucial wave of attacks targeting its scientists, obliging them to flee their home country. Following years of wars, and within its wide efforts of reconstruction, the Iraqi government is seeking today to restore this prominent heritage in research and technology through institutional rehabilitation and capacity building. As a lead organization in academic innovation and scientific research, UNESCO is sharing its international expertise with its Iraqi counterparts to help them draw and implement an applicable and reliable policy to develop science, technology and education in the country.

Supporting the Iraqi government in setting frameworks, action plans and strategies to improve the country’s economic and social outlook has been a main pillar in UNESCO's work in Iraq. Realizing the major significance of scientific research and technical innovation in providing short and long term solutions, and shaping a future based on a qualified human capital, UNESCO is leading a number of initiatives to create an academic and professional environment that enhances research and innovation.

Drawing a Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Policy for Iraq is among UNESCO's main projects in this field.

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