14.04.2016 - Natural Sciences Sector

New director for science policy and capacity building

© TWAS Romain Murenzi

Prof. Romain Murenzi (Rwanda) has been appointed to the post of Director of UNESCO’s Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building by the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. Prof. Murenzi has over 30 years of experience in capacity building in science, science policy and diplomacy, in both the public sector and in academia. Since 2011 Prof. Murenzi has served as Executive Director of The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS), a UNESCO programme, based in Trieste, Italy. PhD fellowship opportunities have more than tripled over the course of his tenure, from 150 per year in 2011 to over 460 in 2016. During that time, Prof. Murenzi chaired the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on a Technology Bank for the LDCs, which studied the scope and functions of such a proposed institution, and became a member of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development. In January 2016, he was appointed by the Secretary-General as a member of the 10-Member Group to support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Division leads UNESCO's work in assisting its member states in the formulation and upgrading of their science policies, the strengthening of the science policy interface, the building of institutional and human capacities in science, innovation and engineering, in addition to mobilizing local and indigenous knowledge with the aim of contributing to the international sustainable development agenda and frameworks, at global, regional and national levels. It also focuses on small island developing states (SIDS) and implements its programmes through, among other means, cooperation with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and TWAS.  The Division is also responsible for the production of the flagship UNESCO Science Report, the UNESCO Engineering Report and the Global Science Policy Information Network (GO-SPIN).

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Prof. Murenzi to the position of Director of the Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building” said Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for the Natural Sciences. “He will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position, taking its work forward in the context of the 2030 Agenda, continuing to backstop TWAS’ vital ongoing role in promoting science in the developing world. Prof. Murenzi has overseen the growth and expansion of TWAS since his appointment by UNESCO's Director-General in 2011 and, while continuing the smooth transition in TWAS, is expected to take his expanded mandate and the programmes of the Division forward in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development.”

Born in Rwanda, Prof. Murenzi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Burundi (1982), as well as degrees in Physics at the Master’s (1986) and doctorate (1990) levels, obtained at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). In 2013, he obtained a Master of Law degree in Information Technology and Telecommunication from the University of Strathclyde (UK). He served from 2001 to 2006 as Rwanda's Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research, and from March 2006 to July 2009 as Minister in the President's Office in Charge of Science, Technology, and Scientific Research, with responsibilities including Information and Communications Technology.

"Over the past five years at TWAS," Murenzi said, "I have been privileged to work with some remarkably committed people – the TWAS Council and staff, and our many global partners – to build science for the developing world. In my new position at UNESCO, I am confident that many of us will continue to work together toward the goal that we all share: using science and engineering to support sustainable development and better lives for people everywhere."

Prof. Murenzi will take up his duties of Director of UNESCO’s Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building on 1 June 2016.  

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