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 decision makers-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.

    If you have difficulty with downloading the report or parts thereof, the IAC will be happy to send you a hard copy of the report. Please send an email to secretariat@iac.knaw.nl or fax your request to +31 20 620 4941. There will be no charge for a single copy.