UNESCO maps research and innovation in Malawi
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
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
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.
- Watch the video
- Facts and figures about women in science
(interactive tool developed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in 2014)
- More on the 2014 edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science
Namibia developing national programme for research, science, technology and innovation
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
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’
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
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
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
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)
World Science Day focuses on science for water cooperation
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
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
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.’
- Director-General’s speech (opening of high-level segment, 1 July)
- UNESCO Ministerial Roundtable on Culture and innovation in the post-2015 development agenda (2 July)
- Director-General’s speech (side event on women in science, 2 July)
- Women are a necessity for science, panel observes (side event, 2 July)
- Ministerial breakfast stresses importance of STI for global sustainability (3 July)
- Background on UNESCO’s contribution to ECOSOC session
Universities: a key role in meeting Africa’s emerging industrial and socio-economic needs
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
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
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’
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.
Months before the Arab Spring, the prescient words of a UNESCO report
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.’
- Read the chapter on the Arab States in the UNESCO Science Report 2010
- Read the interview of Moneef Zou’bi (2011) on the implications of the Arab Spring for science in the region. (version française)
- UNESCO Science Report 2010
- UNESCO project developing an entrepreneurial culture at Arab universities (version française)
Africa desirous to develop innovation
‘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.
World Science Day
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
New centre holds first seminar on S&T development planning
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.
Journalists explore ways of improving science communication in Southeast Europe
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’
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
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
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 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 is celebrated each year on 10 November. The theme this year is Towards Green Societies: Equity, Inclusiveness, Participation. (More)
Read the Director-General's message
Nurturing innovation in Brazilian firms
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.
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
Answer a questionnaire on the impact of the UNESCO Science Report
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
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
China vows to develop an innovation-driven economy by 2020
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.
‘We were set for some dramatic events’
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 assisting Azerbaijan in reviewing its STI strategy
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
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’
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 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
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 SciDev.net 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
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.