Online workshop held with Namibian STI leaders

On 14 October 2021, UNESCO and the Namibia National Commission for UNESCO organized a workshop to review programmes and activities implemented by the Sectors for Natural Sciences and Social and Human Sciences in Namibia, as well as identify national needs and establish a roadmap for activities over the next two years.
The workshop was attended by 62 participants representing academia, government, parastatals, the private sector and UNESCO.
The workshop included a panel discussion on the state of Namibia’s national innovation system, featuring two university Vice Chancellors, the Director of Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, and two representatives of the Minds in Action science learning centre. 
The panellists identified a need to significantly improve communications relating to scientific results and issues; ensure that research is adequately funded, including by the private sector; and provide stakeholders in the tech industry with sufficient legal protections for their intellectual property. The panellists highlighted developmental programmes as a way of fostering innovation among the youth.
The challenges and opportunities highlighted by the panellists reflect some of the values inscribed in the Recommendations on Science and Scientific Researchers, which calls on UNESCO’s member states to:
Promote access to research results and engage in the sharing of scientific data between researchers, and to policy-makers, and to the public wherever possible, while being  mindful of existing rights (paragraph 16, a,v);
Treat public funding of research and investment as a form of public investment (paragraph 6);
Ensure that the scientific and technological results of scientific researchers enjoy appropriate legal protection of their intellectual property (paragraph 37); and
Lend their support to all educational initiatives designed to: (a) strengthen all sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics education, in schools and other formal and informal settings (paragraph 14, a).
Namibia is one of six pilot countries taking part in the project Strengthening STI Systems for Sustainable Development in Africa, an initiative funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
As part of the project, stakeholders in Namibia are conducting a baseline assessment of the country’s science, technology and innovation system, benchmarked against the standards of the Recommendations. Having identified challenges and opportunities for Namibia, the project will then seek to raise national capacity to design and monitor inclusive policies.