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FORUM II
PROGRAMME THEMATIC MEETINGS

II.7   New Mechanisms for Funding Science

 

Increasing private funding (business, foundations, charities) and decreasing public funding. How to re-define a rationale for public support? Funding for international science.

Chair: Sir Crispin Tickell ICSU Advisory Committee on the Environment; UK
Rapporteur: Kirsten Broch-Mathisen Chair IGFA; Norway

Session co-ordinator: Jean-François Stuyck-Taillandier Executive Director, ICSU, France
Local secretary: tbd


ABSTRACTS:

Adding value to national research:
a need for glue money and development of new partnerships

John Marks
Director, NWO Earth and Life Sciences Council, Netherlands

A typology of mechanisms for international science funding ranges from facilities governed by a Treaty (e.g. CERN), to light forms of coordination and networking (e.g. ESF, UN programmes, ICSU). At the global level these latter forms dominate. Complex scientific questions with great societal significance like global change and the human genome can only be addressed in truely global scientific cooperation.

The existing mechanisms for funding such cooperative global efforts will be reviewed. The international global change research programmes and the global observing systems for environmental monitoring will be treated as examples. Characteristics of these programmes are their large scale and multidisciplinarity, their light central scientific management structure and the multiple source, mainly national, funding of projects. Central activities are funded through a variety of (informal) contribution mechanisms. Conditions for success of these mechanisms, and essential shortcomings will be identified. The international programmes add value to national research projects in a variety of ways which will be described. A key new element is the integration and synthesis of results obtained throughout the individual programme elements, and even across the programmes. Such integration and synthesis is a scientific collaborative activity, often involving scientists from many different countries. Existing funding mechanisms have difficulty coping with such activities. The concept of Glue Money could contribute to solving the problem. The discussion in the thematic meeting should focus on improvements of existing mechanisms, and on possible new mechanisms.

In the global change research domain, the science funding agencies and ministries have created an informal International Group of Funding Agencies (IGFA) to address resource issues of the international global change programmes. The role of IGFA will briefly be described. It will be argued that broadening of this partnerships is needed. Three examples of such broadening will be discussed.

The first arises from the essential role of the scientific communities in developing countries in the success of these programmes. Full involvement of these communities requires capacity building and regional research programmes like START, with a role for Development Assistance Agencies and international entities like Worldbank and UN bodies.

An important driving force for the integration and synthesis, apart from the scientific interest, is the need to transfer results to society. More than a decennium of global change research has led to a better understanding of the Earth system and the way in which it is affected by human intervention. It has also taught us that there essential gaps in our understanding. IPCC was created as a mechanism for integrated assessment of scientific knowledge of the climate system. Its effectiveness critically depends on the quality of the international global change programmes. For biodiversity no similar mechanism exists. A partnership of the WCRP, IGBP, IHDP, DIVERSITAS and START, involving the Conventions is called for. At the national level this should be complemented by a partnership between the science funding agencies and the ministries with leading responsibility for the Conventions. The aim should be to create awareness, and to develop co-funding mechanisms for integration and synthesis.

Business and industry rightly are interested in the best available independent knowledge on global changes, because of the implications for their future operations (e.g. the insurance sector and the energy sector). Partnerships with the private sector have often been called for, and at the national level such partnerships increasingly develop. How to create such partnerships at the global level is an item for discussion in this session. The aim of such partnership could be early information for the private sector on new developments, access to useful data for the research programmes, and possible cofunding mechanisms.

The global observing systems provide a different example of the need of broadening the partnerships. The observing systems all have their origin in the scientific community, and are essential for policy. Their longterm continuity depends on the willingness of operational agencies to take over the funding responsibility. In particular the in situ component of such systems is vulnerable. At the international level a partnership between the sponsors of the observing systems, the funding agencies and the space agencies is developing. The Integrated Observing Strategy is a concrete tool to achieve coherence and cost effectiveness. The next step is to complement this at the national level with a partnership of science funding agencies with ministries and agencies with responsibility for operational monitoring.

 

Scientific and technological co-operation
and the role of Asia

Koichiro Matsuura
Japanese Ambassador to the French Republic

The fruits of the development of science and technology have enriched humankind, changing the way in which we live and vastly expanding the range of human activities. Yet we are now confronting issues arising from the negative effects of the scientific and technological developments of the 20th century such as global warming, the arms race, excessive consumption and the loss of cultural identity.

Six factors behind the changes of general perception on science and technology can be identified: 1) an unbalanced development, widening the gap between those who enjoy the benefits of development and those who do not; 2) an increased specialization, creating problems of communication and understanding between ordinary people and scientists; 3) colossal growth and large-scale projects requiring a budget and expert knowledge which makes it difficult for developing countries to participate; 4) environmental pollution such as acid rain and the depletion of the ozone layer; 5) development of life science, raising issues concerning "Ethics of Life" including organ transplantation and genome research; and 6) further scientific, technological and cultural factors.

Recognizing a need for technologically advanced nations to co-operate internationally, Japan has taken several approaches toward creating an internationally open atmosphere. Specifically with regard to the global environment, Japan has approached the issues through bilateral and multilateral intergovernmental co-operation and non-governmental co-operation.

Within Japan itself, approaches toward environmental issues are being taken at the national government level, the local government level, the corporate level, and by NPOs. Approaches toward scientific co-operation in Asia include contribution to the Trust Fund for UNESCO scientific projects, participation in the APEC Working Group on Industrial Science and Technology, and implementation of various international researcher exchange programs and joint research projects.

In order to consider from an Asian perspective how to best use science and technology for the sake of humanity in the 21st century, it is necessary to acknowledge that the introduction of a modern science based on a European system of logic into Asia which possesses its own diverse systems of logic will result in a difference in impact on society and the state. The difference can be clearly exemplified by differing reactions to issues such as brain death, organ transplantation and genetic engineering. Sharing its collective knowledge, Asia is seeking to integrate and develop the traditional science unique to the region and the leading science of industrialized nations, and is trying to discover new fields.

Reflecting on at least the past quarter century of development, I would like to propose consideration of concepts from an Asian perspective, namely, the "Concept of Living Together" and the concept of "Human Security". Making use of the two concepts, Japan and Asia will be able to play a proactive role in forging a new relationship between science and humanity in order to resolve the issues resulting from scientific and technological advancement.

Management of new mechanisms for funding science

Jaime Lavados
Ambassador of Chile to UNESCO

When discussing new forms of financing science, we should have at least three key themes in mind:

  1. Which are the activities which should be financed in order to develop science?
  2. What are the best means of financing them?
  3. What is the impact, positive or negative, of a special form of funding in relation to specific types of activities connected with science?
  1. In the discussion, one very often omits to bear in mind that what is in question goes beyond the financing of specific research projects. In fact the implementation of such projects can only follow after the installation of the physical infrastructure (buildings, equipment, etc.), the trainning of scientists and support staff, the existence of a series of interrelated activities and academic mobility (through meetings, communications technologies, etc.) and other actions which all together favour the development of high quality science. If we furthermore wish to take an interest in the use of knowledge, then other activities which require funding will come up.
  2. There are many mechanisms and instruments for funding science, but these are not equally adequate to sustain the various activities related to science. Development banks grant international credit to finance the installation of infrastructures and training of personnel rather than specific research projects. The funds that are now available around the world on a competitive basis are more adapted to finance research programmes and projects rather than installation of costly equipment (new telescopes, new particle accelerators). The latter type of investment certainly requires forms of public funding or international co-operation of considerable magnitude. The financial arrangements proper to university-industry co-operation and the provision of services acquire their own and diverse modalities which, in turn, are different to those which procure funds for the trainning of personnel through a system of fellowships.
  3. Finally, during these last decades, it has become evident that the various forms of funding can have positive effects, but negative effects can also result if the mechanisms and instruments used are not adequate. It is well known, for instance, than financing research via competitive founding has a negative effect on academic teaching at the undergraduate level. Researchers can neglect their teaching obligations, or surrender them to less qualified assistant lecturers, due to the tough competition that prevails to succeed in carrying out and sustaining projects founded on a competitive basis. Furthermore,, "administrative" financing of projects takes away competition and therefore incentives for higher standards. Similar problems come up with joint university-industry research funding or upstream advisory services, because the purely technical expertise often required by industry makes it difficult to sustain high quality research in these joint ventures. Some types of scholarships induce brain-drain.

The foregoing shows that the funding of science has to be integrated within a more general vision of scientific policy and above all benefit from a more adequate management of science development. It is essential to conduct a very careful and coherent monitoring of the multiple funding sources available to finance the wide variety of activities linked with science that need to be sustained.

Financer la science en pays pauvres
dans le contexte de la globalisation: perspectives et défis

Charles Binam
Cabinet du Ministre de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique, Cameroun

Trouvera-t-on bientôt une solution miracle pour juguler le déclin inexorable de la Science dans les pays pauvres de notre planète, au moment rnême où galope vers des horizons toujours plus pointus la Science considérée sur la base des épistèmes et des standards universels.

C'est que la Science a un coût. Dans les pays développés et dominants, ce coût se 1aisse dégager au bout, de choix culturellement assis, parfaitement planifiés en termes d'investissement, soutenus par des stratégies de puissance. Par contre, pour les pays et les nations à économie de subsistance, ce coût est tout simplement prohibitif. Financer la science y est au-dessus des capacités ordinaires des Etats, dont beaucoup sont, .par ailleurs, soumis au harcèlement de la dette du développement; qui s'allége elle-même par de nouveaux emprunts, de nouvelles dettes à rnoyen ou à long terme, confiscatrices de 1'avenir des peuples.

Depuis une quarantaine d’années, beaucoup a été dit, et beaucoup a été fait pour trouver et mettre en place des mécanismes de financement de la science dans ces pays. La situation évoquée ci-dessus donne à penser que les efforts entrepris de par le vaste monde, tant au niveau des Etats eux-mêmes qu’à celui des institutions et des organisations internationales, n’ont toujours pas porté le fruit espéré. Pourtant partout, l’Argent existe, l’Argent circule, massivement et de plus en plus vite… D’où vient donc le fait que l’Argent ne puisse être rendu disponible que pour financer le développement de la culture scientifique et l’organisation des modalités de production des connaissances dans les pays pauvres, seule véritable garantie de leur accès au développement économique et social? Une telle perspective existe-t-elle seulement?

Aujourd’hui, les ressources de l’intelligence et de l’imagination ont définitivement relativisé l’impact des ressources naturelles; l’Humanité est entrée dans une phase de mutations accélérées, imposées ou orientées par l’Utopie apprivoisée; les autoroutes tracées par la Science exercent leur emprise grandissante et dessinent du XXIème siècle la configuration d’une "Société scientifique" fondée sur l’immatériel et le virtuel. Comment imaginer que la majorité de l’Humanité soit exclue de cette société nouvelle qui s’invente sous nos yeux, parfois sur notre dos, et qui nous gère tous? Voilà le défi à relever.

Minimiser les risques d’exclusion, augmenter les chances d’adhésion, désamorcer les bombes de la misère, repenser le partage de l’essentiel qui gît dans le cerveau des hommes, c’est cela financer la Science. Nous sommes persuadés que ce défi peut être relevé au XXIème siècle. Quelques pistes d’approche seront proposées lors de la discussion sur les Nouveaux Mécanismes de Financement de la Science.

 

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