Statement 2003

IAP Statement on Scientific Capacity Building

Policy for Science

The IAP General Assembly which met in Mexico City from 1-5 December has released five statements, signed by two-thirds majority of the IAP membership. The statements address a wide range of topics and are intended to influence policy makers both in individual countries and international organizations.

All countries now recognize the intimate relationship between science, technology and sustained economic development. Yet disparities in scientific and technological capacities between nations continue to grow - a trend accompanied by increasing disparities in economic and social well-being. Per-capita income in "high-income" countries is 60 times greater than per-capita income in "low-income" countries; meanwhile, per-capita research expenditures in developed countries is 220 times greater than per-capita research expenditures in the poorest developing countries.

Over the past two decades, the North-South divide in scientific and technological capacities has been accompanied by another unwelcome divide: growing disparities within the South between scientifically proficient countries (for example, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, and South Korea) and scientifically laggard countries (most notably, the nations of sub-Saharan Africa).

The InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP) has sought to address these trends by helping to nurture the creation of merit-based science academies in nations where they do not exist and to strengthen the capacities of science academies in countries where they do exist but function far below their potential. It is a compelling challenge (for example, of the world's 139 developing countries, only 40 have merit-based science academies). Yet, the IAP is convinced that strong merit-based science academies provide critical indigenous mechanisms for promoting scientific excellence, bringing the fruits of scientific research closer to national economic development strategies, and devising science-based solutions to issues related to resource conservation and use.

To date, the IAP has held regional workshops on scientific capacity building for academies in Africa, South America and the Caribbean region, as well as for academies in countries with predominantly Muslim populations.

The IAP recognizes that merit-based science academies represent only one key player in efforts to build enduring scientific and technological capacities on national, regional and international scales.

Therefore, in a broader perspective, the IAP recommends the following:

  1. creation of national science and technology strategies that specify research and development priorities and funding commitments. Such strategies should be developed in full consultation with the nation's scientific and technological communities;
  2. continued development of centres of scientific excellence, especially in the South. International funding agencies should work closely with national and regional scientific institutions throughout the developing world to create centres of excellence in a broad range of disciplines. These centres should promote research excellence, comprehensive training, and the exchange of both personnel and information;
  3. expansion of programmes for North-South and South-South scientific cooperation not only through the activities of centres of excellence but through bilateral and global initiatives sponsored by national governments and international organizations;
  4. targeted programmes designed to meet the special needs of women and minorities interested in pursuing careers in science. These potentially critical groups are often woefully under-represented in the scientific community. This vast untapped source of talent must not be neglected when seeking to build and strengthen scientific and technological capacities worldwide.

We, the undersigned science academies throughout the world, members of the IAP, are convinced that building scientific and technological capacity is necessary for the promotion of sustainable development; that this implies the local creation of centres of scientific excellence (possibly academies); and that this entails both a mobilization of all intellectual resources and renewed international efforts for scientific cooperation.

Scientific Capacity Building: Signatories

Latin American Academy of Sciences
Third World Academy of Sciences
Albanian Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina
Australian Academy of Science
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Bangladesh Academy of Sciences
The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium
Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazilian Academy of Sciences
Cameroon Academy of Sciences
The Royal Society of Canada
Academia Chilena de Ciencias
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Academia Sinica, China, Taiwan
Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences
Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences
Cuban Academy of Sciences
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
Estonian Academy of Sciences
The Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters
Académie des Sciences, France
Georgian Academy of Sciences
Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities
Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
Academy of Athens, Greece
Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Indian National Science Academy
Indonesian Academy of Sciences
Royal Irish Academy (Acadamh Ríoga na héireann)
Kenya National Academy of Sciences
Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
Science Council of Japan
Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
African Academy of Sciences
Latvian Academy of Sciences
Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Akademi Sains Malaysia
Academía Mexicana de Ciencias
Academy of Sciences of Moldova
Mongolian Academy of Sciences
The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Nigerian Academy of Sciences
Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters
Pakistan Academy of Sciences
Palestine Academy for Science and Technology
Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru
National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines
Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
Singapore National Academy of Sciences
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Academy of Science of South Africa
Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain
National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Council of the Swiss Scientific Academies
Academy of Sciences, Republic of Tajikistan
The Caribbean Academy of Sciences
Turkish Academy of Sciences
The Uganda National Academy of Sciences
The Royal Society, United Kingdom
US National Academy of Sciences
Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela