Can Malaysia avoid the middle-income trap?

Malaysia is considered an upper middle-income country. The Najib Razak coalition government estimates that 6% annual growth is necessary to reach high-income status by 2020. This is a somewhat higher rate than both the average for the previous decade and the World Bank’s projection for 2016 and 2017 of about 4.2% growth. The UNESCO Science Report observes that ‘a greater focus on innovation will be necessary to reach [the government’s] goal’.


Call for nominations: UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences

UNESCO invites Members States in consultation with their National Commissions, and non-governmental organizations in official partnership with UNESCO and active in a field covered by the Prize to propose candidates for the UNESCO–Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences. Deadline for the submission: 31 December 2016 at midnight.


Rwanda integrating environmental protection in its growth strategy

On 2 September 2016, President Kagame of Rwanda attended the annual naming ceremony for newborn baby gorillas in the Volcanoes Biosphere Reserve, known as Kwita Izina. ‘Today is not only about Kwita Izina’, he told the gathering, ‘it is also about remembering that development must be founded on protecting our environment. ‘There is no trade-off between economic growth and protecting our environment, they complement each other’.


ASEAN Economic Community likely to spur scientific co-operation, says report

Launched in November last year, the ASEAN Economic Community groups 622 million people in a market worth US$2.6 trillion, according to the ASEAN website, and in 2014, was collectively the third-largest economy in Asia and the seventh-largest in the world. ASEAN groups ten countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.


The G20 accounts for 92% of global spending on research

The world’s 20 biggest economies are meeting in the Chinese city of Huangzou on 4 and 5 September. They account for two-thirds (64%) of the global population but as much as 80% of GDP and 92% of spending on research and development (R&D) worldwide, according to the UNESCO Science Report. When it comes to private knowledge creation, the domination is even stronger: 94% of patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office stem from G20 countries.


Scientists have never been so mobile

Switzerland is currently negotiating its new relationship with the European Union (EU), following a popular vote in February 2014 restricting immigration to the country, which ‘offends one of the guiding principles of the EU, the free movement of persons’. The UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 observes that ‘Switzerland has built its recipe for success in science on developing a sturdy international network. It is ironic that the fallout from the Swiss referendum of 2014 may jeopardize this proud achievement’.


Nanotechnology is a growing research priority

When the French National Laboratory of Metrology and Testing analysed four daily foods in June on behalf of the NGO Act for the Environment – a brand of chocolate biscuits, chewing gum, a tin of veal casserole and a mixture of spices for guacamole, – each was found to contain nanoparticles.

This study reminds us that, in many countries, nanoparticles have become part of our daily life. They are also found in clothing, tyres, fertilizers and cosmetics, for instance. Given the breadth of potential applications, nanotechnology has become a research priority for many countries, as the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 explains.


The growing influence of billionnaires on research priorities in the USA

Photo ©: Jim West/Science Photo Library. Light therapy being used to treat the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a cancer patient, during a trial at Birmingham Hospital in 2011 run by the University of Alabama. This therapy was developed from experiments carried out at the International Space Station.

What do British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Russian philanthropist Yuri Milner and Facebook Founder Marc Zuckerberg have in common? The answer is that all three are on the board of directors of Breakthrough Starshot, an ambitious project announced in April this year to send a fleet of robots the size of a mobile phone to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, in the next 20 years. The project is being managed by Pete Worden, a former director of the Ames Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Milner estimates that the journey to Alpha Centauri would take 20 years – and billions of dollars to fund. He is one of a new generation of philanthropists who are making ‘a major impact on research priorities’ in the USA, according to the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, released last November. Be they motivated by profit or philanthropy, billionaires are exerting a growing influence on research and development (R&D) in the USA.


More Arab countries are seeking to orient their economies towards knowledge

© courtesy of the Dubai Futures Foundation
A computer image of office buildings to be constructed in Dubai layer by layer using three-dimensional (3D) printing technology.

In January, sociologist Nadji Safir from the University of Algers (Algeria) remarked in Le Monde that the UNESCO Science Report had appeared at a time in history that was dominated more than ever by challenges related to knowledge. Echoing many of the findings of the chapter in the report on the Arab States, he observed that, ‘in many Muslim countries, we are seeing a spiral of crises nurtured by a lack of knowledge that engenders a lack of innovation and economic growth and, in turn, a lack of job creation – particularly for the millions of young people who have come to form a large precariat.’

Young job-seekers constitute over 40% of the Arab region’s unemployed, according to the UNESCO Science Report. ‘As of 2013, most Arab states had achieved a gross tertiary enrolment rate of more than 30% and even above 40% for Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Saudi Arabia but they had failed to create the appropriate value chain of job openings required to absorb the spreading pool of graduates,’ notes the report. It recalls the widespread frustration engendered by ‘the inability of most Arab countries since 2008 to address socio-economic needs effectively and ensure that their economies keep pace with population growth. Even before the economic crisis of 2008, unemployment in the Arab world was high, at around 12%.’


Empowering the private sector to drive economic growth in low-income countries

© Micky Wiswedel /,
Welding, Cambodia.

In an article published in the Guardian newspaper on 16 April 2016, Liberia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel M. Addy, and the Deputy Secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Joakim Reiter, suggest that jobs are the solution to the migrant crisis in low-income countries. ‘We must re-ignite the engines of growth by stimulating private sector development,’ they urge.

The UNESCO Science Report observes that many low-income countries have used their strong economic growth over the past decade during the commodities boom to develop infrastructure and modernize their economies. Countries are eager to reduce their dependence on raw commodities and, thereby, their vulnerability to fluctuating global market prices.


Gender parity in science not yet a reality

© michaeljung /

A manifesto for women in science was launched in Paris on 24 March 2016, at the close of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award ceremony, which recognized five outstanding scientists and 15 promising researchers. The manifesto draws attention to the need to ensure gender parity in science.

According to the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, women now account for 53% of the world’s bachelor's and master's graduates and 43% of PhDs but just 28% of researchers.. These figures often mask wide intraregional variations. Women make up 52% of researchers in the Philippines and Thailand, for instance, and are close to parity in Malaysia and Viet Nam, yet only one in three researchers is a woman in Indonesia and Singapore. In Japan and the Republic of Korea, two countries characterized by high researcher densities, as few as 15% and 18% of researchers respectively are women.


Australia and Canada to raise investment in clean technology

© Arindambanerjee/
Climate rally in Toronto in July 2015

Recent moves by the Australian and Canadian governments suggest a greater policy focus on clean technology. At the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in November last year, the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to develop a sustainable economy based on clean technology and green jobs.

Four months later, his government’s first budget honours this pledge: €40.5 billion are to be invested over the next ten years in green technologies and a low carbon economy, according to Le Monde. Of this, €1.9 billion will be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of the air, soil and water. This budget comes just weeks after the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, announced a series of innovative projects. He commented that the time had come for Canadian firms to seize their share of the global market for clean technology.


The fourth industrial revolution: tearing down the barriers between services and industry

CC Mickael Shick / Wikimedia Commons

Some of the world’s most technologically advanced countries are fostering creative industries, in order to revitalize their manufacturing sector, observes the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030. This trend is visible in Europe, the USA or the Republic of Korea, for instance. Creative industries have become a driver of what has been termed the fourth industrial revolution, which is bringing the internet of things and the internet of services to industry.

After introducing a policy of ‘low carbon, green growth’ in 2008, the Republic of Korea began emphasizing the ‘creative economy’ in 2013, as part of efforts to revitalize its manufacturing sector in the face of stiff competition from China and Japan. In her inaugural address in February 2013, President Park Geun-hye described her vision for national development as ‘the convergence of science and technology (S&T) with industry, the fusion of culture with industry and the blossoming of creativity in the very border areas that were once permeated by barriers.’


Africa has begun the transition to sustainable development

© / Daleen Loest

From 20 February to 2 March, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel, travelled to Kenya, South Africa, Sudan and Zimbabwe to discuss how the Organization could best help these countries harness the potential of science, technology and innovation (STI) to implement their sustainable development strategies. The UNESCO Science Report was presented at her last port of call, Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe.

The UNESCO Science Report reveals that many African countries have not waited for the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September last year to embark on a more sustainable development path. Many of the long-term planning ‘Vision’ documents to 2020 or 2030 adopted by African countries over the past decade have identified sustainable development as being a pillar of their national development strategy, along with more inclusive growth and better governance


China: taking stock of progress towards becoming an innovation-driven nation

© Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center.
The Chang’e 3 probe landing on the Moon in December 2013.

On 4 February 2016, Reuters news agency reported a US$43 billion bid by the state-owned China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) to take over the Swiss agrochemical giant Syngenta. China is seeking to improve crop productivity by acquiring Syngenta's portfolio of quality chemicals and patent-protected seeds. Should the two companies seal the deal, it will be the biggest foreign purchase by a Chinese firm since the China National Offshore Corporation purchased the Canadian oil and gas company Nexec Inc in 2012 for US$ 15 billion.

‘Knowledge transfer is evidently embedded in China’s foreign direct investment,’ observes the chapter on China in the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030. ‘With few exceptions, Chinese enterprises still depend on foreign sources for core technologies.’ The report cites a World Bank study published in 2012 which claimed that ‘China had a US$ 10 billion deficit in 2009 in its intellectual property balance of payments, based on royalties and license fees.’


Opportunity beckons for Africa’s agricultural sector

© atm2003 /
Tea plantation in Rwanda.

On 1 February 2016, the Moroccan Office of Phosphates (Office chérifien des phosphates, OCP) inaugurated a new factory in Jorf Lasfar, 100 km south of Casablanca. OCP Director-General, Mostafa Terrab was reported by Le Monde Afrique(1) as saying that, ‘by 2017, OCP will be producing almost 12 million tonnes of fertilizer every year, making our group the world leader for this market.’ The new factory will focus on the African market. It is estimated that the continent currently consumes just 3% of the world’s fertilizer. ‘Africa needs to use more fertilizer,’ says Mr Terrab. ‘The challenge will be to achieve this in an effective and responsible manner.’

Although Africa remains highly dependent on agriculture, productivity tends to be low and there is little value addition. In Zambia, for instance, agriculture employs about 85% of the population but contributes just 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 5% of exports, mostly due to weak linkages with manufacturing.


The Republic of Korea: a champion of green growth

Source : UNESCO Science Report : towards 2030

During her visit to UNESCO headquarters on 1 December 2015, President Park Geun-hye announced that the Republic of Korea would be partnering with UNESCO in implementing the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Korean government has been championing green growth for years. Within its Low Carbon, Green Growth policy (adopted in 2008), the government doubled its investment in green technology between 2008 and 2012, according to the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, published in November 2015. A new government-funded think tank, the Green Technology Center Korea, followed in 2013. The government plans to commercialize carbon capture sequestration technology by 2020. It has also identified five strategic areas for national technological development between 2013 and 2017 (see figure).

Meanwhile, the top 30 private enterprises invested KRW 22.4 trillion (circa US$26.2 billion) in green technologies between 2011 and 2013. On the international front, the country has hosted the Green Climate Fund since 2012 in the city of Incheon; this fund was established by the United Nations’ conference on climate held in Copenhagen in 2009. The Republic of Korea also established the Global Green Growth Institute in Incheon in 2010; this institute works with public and private partners in developing countries and emerging economies to put green growth at the heart of economic planning.

Call for Advice: Revision of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers

© Flickr / Alain Bachellier

UNESCO calls for advice and comments regarding the revision of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers. This Recommendation is recognized globally in the 195 Member States of UNESCO since its adoption in 1974. This instrument was created in order to help Member States to formulate and execute adequate policy frameworks for science and technology production, aiming, inter alia, to support researchers and encourage new entrants. The possible revision will allow for changes and contemporary challenges to be better reflected.

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World Science Forum to focus on enabling power of science

© Ascom ABC, 2013 - Rio de Janeiro Opening Ceremony

The theme for this year’s World Science Forum is ‘the enabling power of science’. Participants from science, government, industry and civil society will be meeting in Budapest (Hungary) from 4 to 7 November 2015 to examine the many ways in which science improves our quality of life and creates new paths for business innovation.

The dates and themes of this, the seventh World Science Forum, were decided by the forum’s Steering Committee, which met at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 4 November 2014.

The World Science Forum is organized every two years by UNESCO, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the International Council for Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and the European Academies Science Advisory Council. This year’s World Science Forum will be the seventh. The previous forum was held in Rio de Janeiro in November 2013.

During the Opening Ceremony, UNESCO’s Director-General will award two prestigious UNESCO prizes, the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science and UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation.

Republic of Congo and UNESCO join forces to enhance research and innovation

© UNESCO. The agreement was signed by UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Minister of Scientific Research and Technological Innovation of the Republic of Congo, Bruno Jean Richard Itoua.

On 17 December, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Minister of Scientific Research and Technological Innovation of the Republic of Congo, Bruno Jean Richard Itoua, signed a three year agreement within which Congo will provide UNESCO with $400,000 to reinforce Congo’s capacities in scientific and technological innovation.


The Second African Forum on STI issues the Ministerial Statement of Rabat

Ministers signing Rabat Declaration, © UNESCO/Sarah Colautti

The Second Ministerial Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa concluded in Rabat on 17 October by issuing the Ministerial Statement of Rabat signed by over 20 African Ministers or their representatives in Science and Technology, Higher Education, or of Industry. The Statement of Rabat is a reaffirmation of Africa’s commitment to further entrench STI into the heart of political dialogue and into their national action plans and regional initiatives. The Statement comes two years after its predecessor, the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration, which was signed in 2012 in Nairobi at the First Ministerial Forum on STI in Africa.


UNESCO maps research and innovation in Malawi

Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Malawi, © UNESCO

UNESCO has just released the third volume in its series of country profiles in science, technology and innovation (STI) policy. Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Malawi reveals an intriguing paradox: despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi devotes 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) to research and development (R&D), one of the highest ratios in Africa. Although R&D spending remains low in real terms, Malawian scientists publish more in mainstream journals –relative to GDP – than researchers in any other country with a similar population size.


Nurturing Tanzania’s fledgling bioentrepreneurs

© Muhammad Mahdi Karim/Wikipedia Commons, Sisal plantation on the outskirts of Morogoro.

In December 2010, the United Republic of Tanzania published two key national policies, one on research and development (R&D) and the other on biotechnology.

To mark the event, UNESCO’s Dar es Salaam office commissioned a report from the Ifakara Health Institute on Biotechnology and Bioentrepreneurship in Tanzania, in order to help the government plan ahead in these areas. Published in July 2011, the study went beyond its strict reporting mandate to incorporate a one-day encounter in the capital on 9 February 2011 between public and private players to identify the obstacles preventing them from taking science from the laboratory to the market.

The final report describes this encounter, the first of its kind in Tanzania, within a broader analysis of the country’s efforts to develop a bio-economy. The following article is adapted from Biotechnology and Bioentrepreneurship in Tanzania. (More)

UNESCO Director-General speaks about l’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science

© L'Oréal Foundation

In April 2014, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova retraced the history of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science programme, in an interview given to Ubrain TV. Over the past 16 years, the programme has recognized more than 2,000 women researchers around the globe: 1,920 fellows and 82 laureates, two of whom went on to win the Nobel Prize. On the evening of 19 March 2014, this year’s five laureates and 15 international fellows were honoured at an award ceremony held at the Université de la Sorbonne in Paris.

Namibia developing national programme for research, science, technology and innovation

Dr Gladys Kahaka from the University of Namibia used her l’Oréal−UNESCO fellowship in 2012 to study three endangered species, the cheetah, ximenia tree and devil’s claw. © L’Oréal Foundation

Namibia’s newly formed National Commission on Research, Science and Technology has begun developing the country’s National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation (NRSTI) Programme, together with UNESCO. As part of this process, a National Consultative Workshop on the Development of the NRSTI Programme is taking place on 24−25 March 2014, in the capital, Windhoek.

The three-year National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Programme will seek to operationalize and instrumentalize the role of research, science, technology and innovation (RSTI) in driving Namibia’s economic development.

Although limited information is available on the RSTI landscape in Namibia today, this programme presents the first coherent attempt to address challenges faced by the country.  (More)

Burundi makes great strides in STI policy reform

© Belle Image Pro., Left to right : Dr Janvière Ndirahisha, Director-General of the Ecole normale supérieure, which hosted the forum ; Dr Tatien Masharabu, Director-General of Science, Technology and Research and ; Ms Joséphine Ntahobari, Representative of UNESCO for a Culture of Peace at the UNESCO Bujumbura Office

UNESCO has been accompanying Burundi in the reform of its science, technology and innovation (STI) policy since 2008. This collaboration will culminate in a national workshop in March or April 2014 to validate three crucial documents for the reinvigoration of research in Burundi, namely: the Strategic Plan for Science, Technology and Research for Sustainable Development, a related Action Plan and a draft law on STI. These documents will provide a framework for implementation of the National Policy on Scientific Research and Technological Innovation. (More

‘Global challenges offer unique opportunity for collaborative research’

World Science Forum 2013

The Declaration adopted by the participants in the sixth World Science Forum in Rio de Janeiro on 27 November sees global challenges as a ‘unique opportunity’ for collaborative research on an equitable basis.




It observes, however, that ‘excessive inequalities in natural resources, highly skilled talent, strategic knowledge resources and research infrastructure are inhibitors of meaningful cooperation and are the foundation of political, social and economic tension.’


Sixth World Science Forum gets under way

World Science Forum 2013

Much of the programme for the World Science Forum on Monday 25 November was taken up with the three plenary sessions on Inequalities as Barriers to Global Sustainability; Science Policy and Governance: Inventing the Future and; Scientific Integrity.



Six parallel thematic sessions followed on the themes of: Amazonia, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development; The Medical Challenge of Old Age; Science Diplomacy; Sustainable Planted Forests; Applying Ocean Sciences and Knowledge for Societal Benefit: Demands after Rio+20 and; The Role of Higher Education in Building a Critical Mass for Global Sustainability. (More)

UNESCO launches new series with a profile of R&D in Botswana

© UNESCO / Aurelia Mazoyer, Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Botswana

The first volume in UNESCO’s new online series of GO→SPIN Country Profiles in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy was launched on 14 November 2013 at UNESCO headquarters. It is dedicated to the research and innovation landscape of Botswana.

The study was launched at a side event of UNESCO’s General Conference that was inaugurated by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and moderated by Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences Gretchen Kalonji. ‘All countries are seeking new sources of creativity and innovation, to craft policies that are inclusive, just and sustainable,’ observed the Director-General in her opening remarks.


World Science Day

World Science Day 2013, © UNESCO

The theme of this year’s World Science Day for Peace and Development on 10 November reflects the theme of the International Year of Water Cooperation, for which UNESCO is lead agency. A poster may be downloaded or printed by those interested in organizing an event for World Science Day around this year’s theme: science for water cooperation: sharing data, knowledge and innovation. People are also most welcome to use UNESCO stories on different aspects of water cooperation as a resource (More)

Read the Director-General's message to mark this year's celebration (AR, CH, EN, FR, SP, RU)

World Science Day focuses on science for water cooperation

© DR, Water well

The theme of this year’s World Science Day for Peace and Development on 10 November reflects the theme of the International Year of Water Cooperation, for which UNESCO is lead agency. A poster will be available shortly for downloading or printing by those interested in organizing an event for World Science Day around this year’s theme: science for water cooperation: sharing data, knowledge and innovation. People are also most welcome to use UNESCO stories on different aspects of water cooperation as a resource. (More)

Promoting Women in Science in Africa

Promoting Women in Science in Africa, ©John Emrys Morgan/UNESCO

Johannesburg, South Africa, 24-25 September 2013

UNESCO’s Nairobi office ran a two-day workshop for university women decision-makers and mid-career women scientists and engineers on 24-25 September 2013. The meeting provided a platform for them to deliberate on how to forge ahead in preparing for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

It also offered them an opportunity to identify niche areas in training and research which will enable women scientists to drive Africa’s economic transformation and its sustainable development agenda. (More)

ECOSOC focuses on STI and culture

© Magali De Vrin

UNESCO coordinated two ministerial breakfasts during the high-level segment (1-4 July) of the ECOSOC session this month. This year’s theme is STI, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In her opening speech, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova recalled the importance of innovation and culture in the post-2015 development agenda ‘We need to create cultures of innovation,’ she said. ‘Computers do not drive innovation – women and men do.’

Universities: a key role in meeting Africa’s emerging industrial and socio-economic needs

© ANSTI, The conference is being hosted by the University of Botswana.

The World Bank anticipates that the economies of sub-Saharan Africa will grow by 6% on average in 2013. At the same time, climate change and rapid population growth pose potential threats to Africa’s economic resilience. If ignored, these trends could threaten health services, food security, energy access, environmental sustainability, youth employment and rational urban development.

Now more than ever, universities will play a crucial role in generating the knowledge which will in turn drive sustainable development. The African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI), hosted by UNESCO’s Nairobi office, is organizing a conference on 5−7 November 2013 on this very theme, at the University of Botswana. (More)

Submit an abstract: African conference on enhancing capacity in STI

© ANSTI, The conference is being hosted by the University of Botswana.

The African Network of Scientific and Technological Institutions (ANSTI), hosted by UNESCO’s Nairobi office, is organizing a conference on 5−7 November 2013 on the theme of Enhancing capacity in science, technology and innovation in response to emerging industrial and socio-economic needs of Africa: the role of universities and research institutions. University leaders, development partners, researchers and decision-makers with relevant experience and/or knowledge are invited to submit an abstract by 15 June to the ANSTI secretariat (More)

Call for nominations for the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science

© UNESCO/N. Burke
Each UNESCO Kalinga Prize-winner is awarded the UNESCO Albert Einstein silver medal


Jointly funded by the Kalinga Foundation Trust, the Orissa Government of India and the Indian Government, the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization is an international distinction to reward the efforts of a person who has had a distinguished career as writer, editor, lecturer, radio/television programme director or film producer, which has enabled him/her to help to interpret science, research and technology to the public.

Nominations shall be submitted to Director General by the governments of Member States, in consultation with their National Commissions, and by non-governmental organizations maintaining official partnerships with UNESCO. Each Member State and non-governmental organization may designate one candidate. Nominations for the prize should reach UNESCO by 15 June 2013. (More)

‘If more women owned mobile phones, there would be more development’

© Barbara Birungi, Founder of Women in Technology Uganda (WITU)

In 2010, Barbara Birungi founded Women in Technology Uganda. This NGO provides networking, training, mentoring and partnering to increase the number of women in technological fields. Ms Birungi is also Executive Director of Hive Colab, a business incubator in Kampala for East African start-ups in technological fields which also dates from 2010. On 26 February, she was one of several speakers invited by UNESCO to describe how e-science was being used in their country to strengthen the interface between science, policy and society. (More)

Fifteenth edition of L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science

The L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science programme is proudly celebrating its 15th anniversary in Paris (France) with a three-day programme beginning on 26 March. The programme consists of a photo retrospective on the avenue of the Champs-Elysées, a science forum at the Paris Observatory and a dinner debate. The final event will be the award ceremony, to be held at the Sorbonne University.


Using e-science to strengthen the science−society interface

From 25 to 27 February 2013, UNESCO hosted the 10-year review meeting for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) at its headquarters in Paris, France. One session organized by UNESCO on Tuesday 26 February focused on Using E-Science to Strengthen the Interface between Science and Policy.

The session was divided into two parts, a Technical Working Group (9:30am - 11:00am) and a High-level Segment (11:05am - 12:30pm).

Months before the Arab Spring, the prescient words of a UNESCO report

Demonstrators in Tunis on 14 January 2011, © Voice of America

Two years after the Arab Spring, author Moneef Zou’bi comments that ‘many senior decision-makers I talk to from the Arab region cannot believe their eyes when they read what we said in the chapter on the Arab States. They often end up asking if the UNESCO Science Report 2010 was really published before the outbreak of popular protests in Tunisia and Egypt.’

Published in the UNESCO Science Report 2010 in November 2010, the chapter stressed the long-term failure of governments in the Arab region to use education, science and technology to deliver socio-economic development to an increasingly frustrated public. At the time, young job-seekers constituted 40% of the unemployed. ‘Governance in the majority of Arab countries is in a state of turmoil,’ wrote Moneef Zou’bi and co-author Adnan Badran. ‘Arab regimes are torn between upholding national security and maintaining social order, on the one hand, and adopting good governance practices, on the other,’ including democracy and the rule of law. ‘Without good governance, achieving a knowledge society … will be difficult, if not impossible.’

Africa desirous to develop innovation

The Southern African Large Telescope wasinaugurated in 2005. It is the largest in the southern hemisphere, © Wikipedia Commons

‘African countries have begun to recognize that, without investment in science and technology, the continent will stay on the periphery of the global knowledge economy’, observes the UNESCO Science Report 2010. ‘Some countries are taking steps to establish a national innovation system, in an approach generally borrowed from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The level of investment in S&T nevertheless remains low in most African countries, concludes the report.

Read the chapter on Africa (EN, FR), which has just been translated into French and printed in booklet form by the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), in collaboration with UNESCO, for distribution in Africa.

UNESCO Science Report 2010

World Science Day

World Science Day 2012, © UNESCO

This year, the theme of World Science Day on 10 November is Science for Global Sustainability: Interconnectedness, Collaboration, Transformation. For those who wish to participate, the poster can be downloaded in several languages

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Read the Director-General's message to mark this year's celebration (EN, ES, FR)

New centre holds first seminar on S&T development planning

Photo: ©CASTD; China Academy of Science and Technology for Development; Dr Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO

The International Research and Training Centre for Science and Technology Strategy was inaugurated in Beijing (China) on 24 September. The launch coïncided with the centre's first training seminar for participants from Africa and Asia.

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Journalists explore ways of improving science communication in Southeast Europe

The China Science and Technology Museum opened in Beijing in 2009

Organized under the patronage of UNESCO, the XIIth International Conference on the Public Communication of Science and Technology in Florence (Italy) on 18-20 April drew 670 participants from five continents and gave rise to a staggering 450 presentations.

One of the parallel sessions was organized by UNESCO’s Venice office. Devoted to science communication in Southeast Europe, the session offered an opportunity for the eight journalists from the region to outline the situation in their respective countries. Generally speaking, the journalists were critical of the quality of science journalism. (More)

First Africa Forum on STI for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth

Science, technology and innovation (STI) are a key component of the sustainable growth and development of any country. Investments in STI and its integration into education, economic and industrial policies can create employment and improve the productivity and competitiveness of African countries on the global market.

The mission of the forum taking place in Nairobi (Kenya) on 1-3 April is to facilitate the sharing of experiences and analyses of best practices in strengthening STI mechanisms; designing policy measures for the promotion of innovation, entrepreneurship and youth employment; harnessing the role of innovation in the informal sector and; increasing the participation of women and youth in STI. (More)

Five laureates find new ways of looking at old problems

On 29 March, five laureates will receive the L’Oréal-UNESCO award for Women in Science, which comes with prize-money of US$100,000. They will be joined by this year’s 15 international fellows and one special fellow in life sciences.

The focus of the laureates’ research is on medicine and, for one of them, on ‘resurrection plants’. As Günter Blobel, President of the jury and Nobel laureate in Medicine (1999), put it, ‘the laureates have all uncovered new ways of looking at old problems.’ (More)

‘The high level of basic research and innovation promotes Israeli science-based industries’

Professor Ruth Arnon, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Israel’s economy has escaped relatively unscathed from the global economic recession. Gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) fell by just 0.4 percentage points to 4.4% of GDP between 2008 and 2010, maintaining Israel’s global lead for the level of commitment to R&D. Most exposed to the financial turbulence has been the business sector (80% of all R&D), owing to its dependence on world markets for its high-tech exports and venture capital. One development that should have strong repercussions for the country’s economy is Israel’s integration into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2010. (More)

Developing an entrepreneurial culture at Arab universities

Prof. Mona Bahr from Egypt, TWAS Scientist of the Year 2011 for her research in the field of nanoscience, © UNESCO

By developing a partnership between academia and industry, UNESCO’s Network for the Expansion of Converging Technologies in the Arab Region (NECTAR) plans to reorient academia towards problem-solving and remove the barriers between disciplines that currently hinder innovation in the Arab world. Just seven months after the network was launched, three innovation centres within Arab universities have already opened their doors and NECTAR has developed a graduate diploma in nanosciences for the new academic year. (More)

UNESCO’s country planning document for Tanzania to 2015

© Jasmina Sopova/UNESCO
Street in Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar in the United Republic of Tanzania

Since 2008, UNESCO has been leading the reform of Tanzania’s science system within the One UN Programme, now transformed into the UN Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP) 2011–2015. This year, UNESCO published a country planning document to 2015, as well as various assessments on such topics as the research–policy linkages of science ministries, biotechnology and bioentreneurship in Tanzania, the role of women scientists in industry, the state of higher education and needs in science education (More).

The World Science Forum

The Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), © Zoltán Bese

The prestigious biennial World Science Forum was held from 17 to 19 November in Budapest. This year’s forum explored The Changing Landscape of Science: Challenges and Opportunities and adopted a declaration on the new era of global science. (More)

The forum adopted a declaration on 19 November 2011.

World Science Day for Peace and Development

World Science Day for Peace and Development 2011

World Science Day for Peace and Development is celebrated each year on 10 November. The theme this year is Towards Green Societies: Equity, Inclusiveness, Participation. (More)

Programme of activities at UNESCO headquarters in Paris


Read the Director-General's message

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Nurturing innovation in Brazilian firms

Interview of Hernan Chaimovich on Brazil on the UNESCO Science Report 2010

Brazil experienced an economic boom in the years leading up to the global recession. Such a healthy economy should be conducive to business investment. However, most of the research funding effort is left to the public sector (55%) and the majority of researchers are academics (63%).

One of the key objectives of the Plan of Action in Science, Technology and Innovation for Brazilian Development (2007–2010) is to nurture an innovation-friendly environment in firms.


For details, read the chapter on Brazil in the UNESCO Science Report 2010 in English or Portuguese

Watch an interview of Herman Chaimovich, one of the authors of the chapter on Brazil

 Read more about the UNESCO Science Report 2010

Access the full report

Read the Summary of the report in Arabic, Chinese, English, Français, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Answer a questionnaire on the impact of the UNESCO Science Report

UNESCO Science Report 2010

© UNESCO Science Report 2010

One year ago, the UNESCO Science Report 2010 was launched. Every five years, this series updates the status of science worldwide. What kind of impact has the 2010 edition made in UNESCO’s Member States? We invite governments to share their impressions by responding to a survey comprised of 10 short questions. (More)

Russia’s anti-crisis measures favour innovation

Pushchino Radio Astronomy Observatory in Russia

Today, the Russian Federation remains dependent on raw materials, with persistent barriers to entrepreneurship and a technological gap with leading industrial nations. Caught up in the global economic recession, the country has adopted anti-crisis measures that are clearly designed to tackle these impediments to innovation, in order to favour competitiveness and economic growth. The UNESCO Science Report 2010 has the details.

Read the chapter on the Russian Federation

Read more about the UNESCO Science Report 2010

Access the full report

Read the Summary of the report (in Arabic, Chinese, English, Français, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)

China vows to develop an innovation-driven economy by 2020

Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, © Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics

Today, high-tech industry remains much less intensive in China than in developed countries, even if investment in R&D has made great strides. China plans to narrow this innovation gap substantially by 2020, via an ambitious plan which places capacity-building at its core in an important shift in policy.

Read the chapter on China in the UNESCO Science Report 2010

UNESCO Science Report 2010

Summary of the UNESCO Science Report 2010 (in Arabic, Chinese, EnglishFrançais, German, Portuguese, Russian)

‘We were set for some dramatic events’

Dr Moneef Zou-bi

If the timing and rapidity of regime change in Tunisia and Egypt took observers by surprise, Moneef Zou’bi believes conditions were ripe for ‘dramatic events’ to happen. Co-author of the chapter in the UNESCO Science Report 2010 on the Arab States, he discusses the implications of the pro-democracy movement for science in the Arab world in the latest issue of UNESCO’s journal, A World of Science.

 Read the interview (page 15)

Chapter on the Arab States in the UNESCO Science Report 2010

UNESCO Science Report 2010

Summary of the UNESCO Science Report 2010 (in Arabic, Chinese, English, GermanPortugueseRussian)

UNESCO assisting Azerbaijan in reviewing its STI strategy

Nowruz, Azerbaijan

UNESCO is assisting the Government of Azerbaijan and the National Academy of Sciences in designing a ‘road map’ for the formulation a new Azerbaijan Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy and Policy, with a focus on capacity-building over the period 2011–2015. (More)

Science without borders

Computer-generated image of International Space Station in low orbit around the Earth

One of the most striking trends observed in the UNESCO Science Report 2010 is the growing internationalization of science. This is evident from the statistics on scientific co-authorship but also from the multiplication of joint programmes and research centres involving two or more countries.

Read Science without borders in the latest issue of A World of Science

‘The time has come for Indian science to once again think big’

©UNESCO/Pankaj Arora
Boy getting his mother to listen to a ringing telephone

As India embarks on its Decade of Innovation, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh remarked in his address to the 98th Indian Science Congress in Chennai on 3 January that ‘the time has come for Indian science to once again think big; think out of the box; and think ahead of the times’. He went on to say that, ‘unless we strengthen the base of our educational system, we can never hope to extend the height of the pyramid of excellence. We also need to create an innovation eco-system so that innovation becomes a way of life in our knowledge institutions’. He explained that, in the past five years, the government had established eight new Indian Institutes of Technology and five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research to provide high-quality education and carry out frontier research.

As the UNESCO Science Report 2010 reveals, the past few years have seen a rise in private investment in research and development (R&D) in India, with the majority of new companies belonging to knowledge-intensive sectors. A growing number of foreign companies are also establishing R&D centres on Indian soil. India’s biggest challenge ‘will be to improve both the quantity and quality of science and technology personnel’. The central government’s decision to establish a total of 30 new central universities, 14 of which will be world-class ‘innovation universities’, augurs well for the future.

World Science Day for Peace and Development 2010

World Science Day 2010


World Science Day 2010 recognizes the role of science in facilitating the rapprochement of peoples and cultures through its contribution to the advancement of ‘mutual knowledge and understanding of people’. In keeping with this theme, the 2010 World Science Day poster celebrates the contribution of various civilizations (namely Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Maya/Aztec, Roman, Sumerian) to scientific progress by depicting scientific formulae and numerals from various regions around the world that helped to form the basis of science. More

Chinese history of science and its interaction with other civilizations

The Dunhuang map, Chinese astronomy map

The Dunhuang map, Chinese astronomy map

As a contribution to the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, the China Association of Science and Technology, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and UNESCO are organizing an international conference in Beijing on 10-11 November on the history of science in China and China’s interaction with other civilizations through science and technology. The history of science in China goes back to at least the Shang Period (6000 BCE). While much is known of Chinese accomplishments in astronomy, medicine and mathematics, less is known about the historical interaction between Chinese science and that of other civilizations (Islamic, Indian, Western, etc).

(Click here for details)

Contact the UNESCO co-ordinator.

‘TWAS can help us link our experience in science policy with the work of scientists’

Asked what kind of relationship she hopes to forge with the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), Lidia Brito, Director of UNESCO’s Division of Science Policy and Sustainable Development, says she hopes to tap the academy's impressive networks of scientists and scientific institutions. ‘TWAS can help us link our experience in science policy with the work of the scientists themselves in ways that can advance our shared agenda for accelerating science-based development throughout the South,’ she told the editor of the TWAS Newsletter in June. UNESCO is responsible for the administration of TWAS finances and staff, based on an agreement between the two organizations and the Italian government, but the two organizations also collaborate closely. For example, UNESCO provides financial support for the TWAS associateship programme at centres of excellence in the South.

Read the interview of Lidia Brita in the TWAS Newsletter

Search on for best example of innovation in the South

The International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre for South-South Cooperation (ISTIC) operates under the auspices of UNESCO. ISTIC and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) are collaborating on a project to identify, reward and disseminate best practices in the innovative use of science and technology in the development of new products, processes or services that have had an impact on economic development in the South.

During the initial project phase, scientists, entrepreneurs and others are invited to submit abstracts of their experience by 31 May 2010. Authors of the best 10-15 case studies, as judged by a panel of experts, will be invited to present full-length reports at a workshop in Malaysia scheduled for 6-7 September 2010. During the workshop, the best three presentations will be rewarded with cash prizes of US$5,000, US$3,000 and US$2,000, respectively. The case studies of all 10-15 finalists will also be published by ISTIC and TWAS and made freely available throughout the South.

European countries in transition share experiences of STI policy-making

The Transition of STI Systems in South Eastern Europe was the topic of the presentation by Engelbert Ruoss, Director of UNESCO’s Venice office, to a workshop on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy organized by the Technopolis group and other partners on 29 January. The workshop was hosted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The latest issue of UNESCO’s Venice Newsletter covers the event. (More)

‘Any public policy should have strong national ownership and you need capacity for that’

In an interview with on 11 January, Lidia Brito, the new director of the Division of Science Policy and Sustainable Development, describes some of the barriers to creating good science policies in developing countries and how to overcome these. She explains that science policy is becoming a big priority for national governments and shares some of her ideas for developing UNESCO’s science policy programme. (Read the interview)

UNESCO World Science Report 2010

© Pilar Chiang
In the Mediterranean (France)

Preparation is under way of the fifth report in the series of UNESCO Science Reports on the state of the support system for science around the world. Every five years, a new report identifies and discusses emerging trends in research and higher education in the different regions.


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