A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology
In a world moving rapidly toward the knowledge-based economies of the 21st century, capacity building in science and technology (S&T) is necessary everywhere. But the need is greatest for the developing countries. INVENTING A BETTER FUTURE is a call for global movement to build science and technology capacities in all nations. It addresses the general public and specifically decisionmakers-in national and local governments, international intergovernmental organizations, the research communities, national academies,...
In a world moving rapidly toward the knowledge-based economies of the 21st century, capacity building in science and technology (S&T) is necessary everywhere. But the need is greatest for the developing countries. INVENTING A BETTER FUTURE is a call for global movement to build science and technology capacities in all nations. It addresses the general public and specifically decisionmakers-in national and local governments, international intergovernmental organizations, the research communities, national academies, S&T organizations, foundations, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and the media.
The purpose of the report is to help mobilize concern among all these parties and to trigger actions, recommending ways in which interactions among them could be usefully pursued. The growing sense of cooperation among scientific and technological communities of different countries and regions is highlighted as especially important in making these ideas and paths more practical now than ever before. Recommendations focus on five major areas for action:
Science, technology, and society: To achieve societal goals, governments must develop national S&T strategies; the S&T community should provide knowledge and advice for addressing critical issues; and the public must be informed about and engaged in national S&T policymaking.
Human resources: New efforts are required for the attraction, development, and retention of scientific and technological talent in all nations.
Institutions: Centers of excellence are needed for S&T to flourish. Virtual networks of excellence, linking professionals from different locations working on similar problems through the power of ICT, can multiply the potential effectiveness of individual centers, as can regional cooperation between countries.
The public-private interface: The private (and the literally "productive") sector is now the primary global force in R&D for S&T, and clear distinctions between public goods and proprietary interests would help in the establishment of true public-private partnerships.
Financing: To complement national efforts, creative new mechanisms are needed to ensure adequate funding for S&T capacity-building.
INVENTING A BETTER FUTURE was authored by a study panel appointed by the InterAcademy Council to develop a global strategy for addressing global S&T issues and to prepare a report for publication by the IAC. Co-chaired by Jacob Palis of Brazil and Ismail Serageldin of Egypt, the study panel met five times to reach consensus on a set of conclusions and recommendations for enhancing worldwide capacities in science and technology. A draft report of the study panel was completed in August 2003 and then revised to reflect an extensive external-review process conducted in September 2003, as required by the rules of procedure of the InterAcademy Council.
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Sound scientific knowledge is fundamental to addressing the critical issues - such as economic transformation and globalization; reduction of poverty, hunger, and disease; and the sustainable use of natural resources - facing the world today. The InterAcademy Council (IAC) was created by national science academies to mobilize the world's best scientists for providing expert knowledge and advice to international bodies, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, charged with addressing these issues. The IAC aims to complement, rather than duplicate, the advisory roles of other scientific institutions.
The IAC brings together the collective advisory expertise and experience of a truly worldwide group of national academies. Headquartered at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam, the IAC governing Board is composed of the Presidents of 15 national academies of science and equivalent organi-zations representing Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus the Third World Academy of Sciences. Ad-ditional programmatic consultation is provided through the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues, representing over 90 national science academies
As a nongovernmental organization, the IAC works on a project-by-project basis. When it receives a request to advise, the IAC assembles an international study panel to examine the issue at hand. Panel members serve on a voluntary basis and are selected solely for their expertise. Each study panel prepares a draft report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations. This draft is subjected to an intensive process of peer-review by experts in the field. When the IAC Board is satisfied that the study panel has adequately responded to this outside review, a final report is then released to the requesting organization and to the public. Every effort is made to ensure that IAC reports represent a scientific consensus across the globe, and are free from national or regional bias.
IAC projects are funded individually by multiple sponsors, including interested foundations and interna-tional organizations. Administrative overhead is covered by special grants from the Netherlands government and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Participating academies not only contribute time and ideas, but also funding for developing new projects and other special activities. The United Nations SecretaryGeneral, Kofi Annan, has been a strong supporter of the IAC and its mission. When the IAC was established in May 2000 he sent the following message: 'I welcome your initiative to create an InterAcademy Council for providing advisory studies and reports on issues of concern to the United Nations system and other international organizations'.