Consultation with key STI stakeholders on the draft National Policy in science, technology and innovation (2021-2030)

On 27 January 2022, the Ministry of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan, in cooperation with UNESCO, held a seminar on the current draft policy in science, technology and innovation (STI). The draft policy was developed with the framework of the UNESCO-Islamic Development Bank joint-project on strengthening inclusive STI Systems for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Attended by more than 270 stakeholders from government, academia, private sector and partner agencies, the on-line event discussed the National STI Policy of Uzbekistan for 2022-2030 with a view to its finalization.  

The seminar was opened by Abdulaziz Abduvaliev, Director of the Scientific and Technical Information Center, who noted that Uzbekistan is committed to invest in STI to transform its economy and achieve inclusive and sustainable development. He noted that since 2016, the government undertook significant reforms to establish a market-oriented economy and improve the business and investment climate under the leadership of the President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Isatou Cham, representative of the Islamic Development Bank, stated that the Republic of Uzbekistan is one of the countries that aims to develop through social, economic and environmental research and innovation. Alexandros Makarigakis, Head a.i. of UNESCO office in Tashkent and Representative a.i in Uzbekistan, emphasized UNESCO’s efforts in reinforcing the capacities of Uzbekistan to autonomously and effectively develop, implement and monitor gender­ responsive STI policies that contribute towards the SDGs. the need for countries to take a fresh look at STI policies to be able to address social and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the pressing environmental issues. On his side, Ezra Clark, Chief of Science Policy and Partnerships Section at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, reiterated UNESCO’s commitment to continuously support Uzbekistan in building a sustainable STI ecosystem.

Sirin Elci, UNESCO expert for the STI policy development in Uzbekistan, presented the draft policy acknowledging the strong political will and high-level commitment to achieve innovation-driven development in Uzbekistan, demonstrated by the proclamation of 2020 as the “Year of Development of Science, Education and the Digital Economy in Uzbekistan”, and 2021 as the “Year of Supporting Youth and Improving Population Health”. Ms Elci noted that the short-term effect of new policies on R&D performance is not yet visible although progress in innovation performance is reflected on Uzbekistan’s positioning in the Global Innovation Index in 2020. 

During the seminar, Alexander Tsoy, foreign adviser to the Ministry of Innovative Development, expressed his views on the STI policy, followed by representatives of government agencies and organizations, scientific community, private sector, international and regional organizations, who shared their proposals on the National Policy.

The policy development process was initiated in 2020 with mapping the STI system and identifying key areas for investment in STI using the UNESCO’s GO-SPIN methodology. The process was conducted in close collaboration with the Ministry of Innovative Development, in charge of STI policy development and implementation in Uzbekistan.

At the end of 2020, at the initiative of Shavkat Mirziyoyev the government adopted the document called the Concept for the Development of Science of the Republic of Uzbekistan 2030, which defines the foundations for STI development in the medium and long term, and includes a plan for the phased development of science as well as a set of indicators to monitor the progress that will contribute to the development of science and innovation trends in the country.

Following the STI review, data and information was collected and analysed through surveys, regional visits, interviews and workshops to identify the needs, challenges and opportunities in the national STI ecosystem. The preliminary results and draft policy was presented by UNESCO and discussed with STI stakeholders in May 2021.

The National Policy has been formulated based on international good practices and following a participatory approach. It establishes the framework for achieving the STI objectives for the country by 2030 and aims to strengthening the political framework for the use of STI to successfully rebuild the country after the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and improve the conditions for inclusive, fair and sustainable socio-economic development. 

The STI Policy will be one of the main instruments for Uzbekistan to achieve its objective of becoming a high middle-income country by 2030 by doubling per capita income, and reducing poverty and inequality. It is also a key tool to realize the SDGs by strategically investing in research excellence and innovation at national and regional level, and creating a vibrant research and innovation ecosystem facilitating the development and dissemination of technological solutions and innovations that eradicate poverty and support sustainable development trajectories.