UNESCO advocates the strengthening inclusive STI system in Uzbekistan

A National Consultation Workshop on Strengthening Inclusive Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) System was held in Tashkent on 18 February 2020 within the framework of the UNESCO-Islamic Development Bank (IsBD) project*. Organized in close cooperation among the Ministry of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the UNESCO Tashkent Office and IsDB, it was aimed at discussing the dynamics of the STI system as well as the opportunities in accelerating STI-driven development in Uzbekistan.

The workshop was opened by Mr Jan Hladík, the UNESCO Representative to Uzbekistan, Mr Sayidafzal Mallahanov, Acting Secretary-General of the National Commission of Uzbekistan for UNESCO, and Mr Sharof Rajabbaev, Acting First Deputy Minister of Innovation Development of Uzbekistan.

The participants of the seminar exchanged views on improving the STI system, conducted a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of the national STI system and were acquainted with UNESCO's tools for conducting the system analysis. The online platform "GO-SPIN" (Global Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments), which offers innovative databases with a complete set of various information on STI policies was presented to the participants.

Promoting Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) has become a key policy objective in developed and developing countries. Governments throughout the world have recognized STI to be a driving force for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and particular, SDG 9, which aims at building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

UNESCO, within its mandate, supports efforts of Member States to reform and improve national STI systems and governance, provides technical advice, methodology and recommendations to governments on science policy formulation, monitoring and implementation.

In Uzbekistan, this work was initiated at the end of 2019 with the financial support of the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB). Last December, a UNESCO technical mission visited Uzbekistan to conduct an objective assessment of the national STI system.

“Today's seminar is the result of the first stage of the work, which is based on the consultations we held in last December when we met various agencies and public authorities involved in science, technology and innovation," says Ms Kristine Tovmasyan, Programme Specialist in Natural Sciences at UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty.

The mission's visit resulted in an analytical review of the STI system in Uzbekistan, which was discussed during the seminar. "Based on today's outcomes and conclusions of the seminar, UNESCO will prepare a document with recommendations that will highlight the sectors and directions considered for investment and further action," notes Ms Tovmasyan.

"Uzbekistan is making a very important step in innovative development since 2016," explained Ms Sirin Elchi, UNESCO international expert. "Reforms are being implemented here to improve the business climate and transform the economy, and the emphasis is focused on the development by innovations," she said.

According to her, STI is an intersectoral policy related to all sectors: education, healthcare, agriculture, tourism. "A good example of implementation of this policy is the Scandinavian Counties, Armenia, Estonia and others. We hope that Uzbekistan will join these countries and be able to inspire the countries of the entire region with its example," Ms Sirin Elchi said.

 "There was a lot of useful information and recommendations at this workshop on building innovative development policies not only in large cities but also in the regions. This experience will be useful for me in future recommendations and programme planning. It was also useful to learn more about international programmes and grants that support the development of science," said Mr Sardor Nazirov, specialist of the Centre for Scientific and Technical Information under the Ministry of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan.

*UNESCO- IsBD project on strengthening inclusive Science, technology and innovation system in Uzbekistan

Mr Jan Hladík, the UNESCO Representative to Uzbekistan