Sunday, July 31, 2005

World Not Set To Deal With Flu

Washington Post article:

"Public health officials preparing to battle what they view as an inevitable influenza pandemic say the world lacks the medical weapons to fight the disease effectively, and will not have them anytime soon.

"Public health specialists and manufacturers are working frantically to develop vaccines, drugs, strategies for quarantining and treating the ill, and plans for international cooperation, but these efforts will take years. Meanwhile, the most dangerous strain of influenza to appear in decades -- the H5N1 'bird flu' in Asia -- is showing up in new populations of birds, and occasionally people, almost by the month, global health officials say."

Moreover, there are other strains of flu viruse circulating that have the potential to cause a pandemic, and the work being done on the H5N1 strain might not apply when the epidemic begins.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Online electronic cyber- and technology-law journals

Here are links to some online journals that focus on cyber-law or more generally on technology law. One journal focuses on scientific testimony. (Extracted from the U.S. Library of Congress' Law Reviews Online.)

Berkeley Technology Law Journal (University of California, Berkeley. School of Law)

Computer Law Review and Technology Journal (Southern Methodist School of Law / Computer Section of the State Bar of Texas)

IDEA: The Journal of Law and Technology (Franklin Pierce Law Center)

Intellectual Property and Technology Forum (Boston College Law School)

Journal of Information, Law & Technology (Electronic Law Journals Project, Warwick Law School, University of Warwick)

Journal of Intellectual Property Law (University of Georgia School of Law)

Journal of Online Law (William and Mary School of Law)

Journal of Technology and the Law (University of Florida College of Law)

Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review (University of Michigan School of Law)

Richmond Journal of Law and Technology (University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law)

Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal (Santa Clara University School of Law)

Scientific Testimony: An Online Journal (University of California Irvine Department of Criminology, Law & Society)

Stanford Technology Law Review (Stanford University Law School)

Syracuse Law and Technology Journal (Syracuse University College of Law)

UCLA Bulletin of Law and Technology (University of California, Los Angeles School of Law)

Virginia Journal of Law and Technology (University of Virginia School of Law)

West Virginia Journal of Law and Technology (West Virginia University College of Law)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

DFID Science and Innovation Strategy Consultation questions

The U.K.'s Department for International Development has posted a list of questions as part of its development of a new policy on science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI). The following are the quesstions and my responses

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

1. What should the international community and DFID do to support the contribution that science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) make to the achievement of the MDGs? Can you give any examples of good practice?

“In order to significantly reduce poverty and promote development it is essential to achieve sustained and broad-based economic growth. The millennium development goals highlight some of the priority areas that must be addressed to eliminate extreme poverty.” Thus, the goals per se are not the whole picture, SETI priorities should be set to achieve sustained, broadly-based economic growth. Only secondarily should priorities be modified to include such complementary efforts as are required to assure the specific MDG targets are achieved and MDGs are met. While most targets are specified for the year 2015, the MDGs are longer term, and SETI efforts should also be planned for the long term as well as the short term.

In the short term, it is critical to direct the SETI capacity of the UK and other rich nations more toward solving the problems of poverty, since the required professional cadre and institutional capacity of the world is located so preponderantly in developed nations. Thus, new technologies to deal with the diseases of poverty will come from rich countries, as will critically important new approaches to improving agricultural productivity. At the same time, it is necessary to improve the transfer of and adaptation of technology to poor nations.

In both the long and the short term, it is important to improve the climate for innovation in developing nations. An important aspect of such an effort is to change international market conditions, allowing poor nations greater access to the markets in developed nations.

Priority efforts will depend heavily on the nations targeted. Peace is a requirement for SETI-based economic development and poverty reduction. So too is economic freedom, and freedom from coercive or corrupt government.

Development is based on infrastructure: energy, transportation, communications, potable water systems, waste disposal systems, dams and canals; engineers are the masters of infrastructure. China and India now produce large numbers of engineers each year, but engineering manpower remains a problem in many poor countries. One result is that such countries have to outsource expensive engineering services. More problematic, such countries don’t have the cadre’s of engineers needed to lead in infrastructure policy and development. Strengthening engineering capacity in poor nations includes providing incentives to employ the engineers they train, and strengthening engineering capacity is a priority.

For large, industrializing nations such as Brazil, China and India, which have relatively strong SETI capacity, it is perhaps most important to maintain a climate that allows that capacity to grow, that allows persons and organizations to prosper via technological innovation. For such countries, industrial technology and innovation are important. Agricultural innovation remains important in these countries to improve the productivity of rural populations, and to allow continued immigration to urban, industrial and service jobs.

For the poorest nations, especially small, poor nations, it will be important to organize regional institutions that allow for the sharing of SETI, and to create incentives for the transfer of technology benefiting the poor (such as creation of markets via subsidies for important innovations in health and educational technology.) Poor nations have agricultural economies, and the emphasis must be on SETI in agriculture.

Increasingly, the service sector is being transformed by technology, and it is important to stimulate service technology innovation in developing nations. The outsourcing of service jobs from developed to developing nations via information and communications technology has been shown to help alleviate poverty, and the climate permitting such outsourcing must be maintained.

Social sciences are important, though often overlooked in SETI discussions. On the one hand, societal reorganization is the key to economic development, and the social sciences provide the knowledge and understanding to guide that social reorganization. On the other hand, rapid social and economic development changes culture radically, and is intended to help peoples to achieve their own aspirations; social sciences provide critical knowledge and understanding needed to make societal change responsive to the values of the members of the changing societies.

It is important to recognize that building SETI capacity to achieve broadly based, sustainable development involves the best science, engineering and technology that can be mustered, not just a second rate technology acceptable only to the neediest of the poor! Cutting edge technologies are often not only appropriate, but the best or only technological approach with which to tackle problems of the poor. While simple means such as condoms have an important place in AIDS campaigns, development of an HIV vaccine is requiring the best science the world can muster!

SETI capacity includes the capacity of institutions to supply the resources needed for SETI: political support, finance, human resources, facilities, specialized equipment, supplies, and social support. Institutionalizing these capacities in developing nations to support domestic SETI capacity should be a priority. So too should be institutionalizing these capacities in developed nations to support the increased application of developed nation SETI capacity towards poverty eradication and international development.

A best practice model for SETI capacity building might be Israel, which has utilized SETI as a tool for development over more than half a century. While there are certainly aspects of Israeli policy that one would not want to emulate, and aspects idiosyncratic to the country’s history and situation, Israel has successfully built a productive, export-oriented agricultural base using technological innovation and strong technology services as a tool, and made the transition to an industrial and then post industrial economic system, shifting SETI priorities in the process.

Capacity development

2. Where is further SETI capacity most needed to advance the MDGs? Are there any critical gaps? – This could be in specific areas of research or knowledge, in particular skills and professions, or in countries and regions.

As noted above, SETI capacity needs depend on the state of development of the economy of the nation involved: agricultural economies require technological innovation supporting agriculture and micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs); industrialization requires more focus on manufacturing technologies; movement into post-industrial areas requires more focus on service-industry technologies.

Special needs of developing nations include a vaccine against HIV; improved technology against TB, malaria, and tropical diseases; a range of affordable agricultural and food- processing technologies, especially technologies that can be used in tropical areas; engineering technologies for low-cost, labor-intensive infrastructure development; etc.

Special emphasis should be given to delegation of professional technological functions. In the health sector, for example, poor nations have fewer professional health workers per capita than do rich nations, they have less capital in health facilities, and they face different patterns of disease than do rich nations. The health services appropriate to poor nations will be different than those in rich nations (where most modern health technology originates). Poor nations need health services that are largely preventative, that focus on the most prevalent diseases, and that can be delivered by health workers with limited training. The packages of technologies embodied in health workers, their equipment, facilities, and pharmaceuticals and supplies must be matched, and appropriate to the epidemiological and economic circumstances in which they are to be used. Similar arguments can be made for engineering, agriculture, etc.

More generally, there are gaps wherever there are economic failures. Poverty keeps the market incentives for SETI low in developing countries, and thus many areas (such as child welfare and public health in which British and other rich country peoples agree merit more support) are under-funded by the private sector. Public goods requiring subsidies from government or civil society are under-funded because of the weakness of governments in developing countries, and the weakness of charitable foundations and civil society organizations.

3. What are the key capacities that developing countries need to be ‘intelligent customers’ of SETI, able to make informed decisions about how SETI could best contribute to their development, and to respond to opportunities and threats such as climate change and natural disasters?

Unfortunately, the framing of the question implies that developing countries are “customers” of SETI in ways that developed countries are not. It is important to see SETI as a part of any nation’s development toolkit. Like any nation, poor countries need:
· strong S&T communities as SETI gatekeepers,
· markets that reward appropriate technological innovation,
· open media and political processes that allow the articulation of technological needs, and
· effective governance that recognizes the needs for public investment in public goods, such as research and development.

The framing of the question also suggests that developing nations are conceptualized as “intelligent individual consumers”. In fact complexity theory offers more insight to technological behavior of countries than decision theory. The work of economists such as Nelson and Winters is a more productive framework for the conceptualization of SETI, but even that must be expanded.

4. What are the most effective approaches to developing SETI capacity in developing countries? Can you give any examples of good practice?

SETI capacity building begins with bricks and mortar, training, and technical assistance. “Sandwich programs,” in which graduate education abroad is sandwiched with guided practice at home, can be useful. Linkage programs, in which institutions in developed countries establish long term development partnerships with institutions in developing countries, can also be useful. Exchanges are important; Israel, for example, has a policy in which university faculty are expected to work abroad during summers and sabbaticals since its SETI system must be fully integrated with the larger international SETI systems.

Many if not most countries have already reached stages of SETI development where these approaches recede in relative importance. SETI capacity is further developed through practice in conducive policy and institutional environments. It is important, therefore, that SETI tasks be delegated to developing nations themselves, and that the economic and political systems needed to support SETI capacity in developing nations be strengthened correspondingly.

5. What are the characteristics of ‘successful’ centres of excellence, which promote effective and sustainable SETI capacity development in developing countries? Can you give any examples of good practice?

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, with support from USAID, operated a project in the 1980’s supporting an international network of centers to do research on the etiology of acute respiratory infections in children. The results of the research done in this network clarified the nature of pneumonias in children in poor countries, and provided half of the scientific evidence cited in the revision of WHO guidelines for acute respiratory infections. The program depended on:
· strong, professional epidemiological management,
· peer review of proposals for selection of laboratories seeking to participate in the network,
· new and emerging diagnostic technologies,
· strong support for the quality of the research (including technical assistance in diagnostic laboratory procedures, use of U.S. and European reference laboratories, and technical assistance in survey techniques and data processing).
Researchers were gathered periodically to provide peer review of each other’s work. Results were published in high quality international journals, with assistance provided to the authors to enable them to redact good papers.

Centers of Excellence form around leaders who combine professional excellence with drive and organizational skills. But they only exist where political support, social support, financing, human resources, facilities, and supplies are adequate.

A “worst practice” might be the attempt by one or more foreign scientists to create a center of excellence, defined by them as “participating in world-class research on cutting-edge topics of interest to the scientific community,” where the local institutions are incapable of supporting such a center, and the research is not relevant to the needs of the country where it is done. Too many worst case examples exist!

6. What capabilities does DFID need to enhance its role as an intelligent customer that uses and supports SETI for the achievement of the MDGs?

DFID should focus on creating conditions (markets, IPR domains, etc.) that encourage private sector SETI activities benefiting developing nations. To do so well requires that DFID develop the relevant staff and institutional capabilities, which include capabilities in the economics of technology, the sociology of SETI institutions, and understanding of technological change and innovation.

DFID should seek opportunities in which it can influence British and other SETI activities to make them more beneficial for developing nations. These opportunities might be financial, such as DFID subsidies for development assistance components leveraging larger resources from domestic programs. They might be through advocacy, negotiation, or provision of non-financial incentives (e.g. prizes). To do so well, DFID has to have the capacity to recognize such opportunities in the British-domestic and international SETI systems. Successful advocacy seems outside the capabilities of many SETI proponents.

For those areas in which DFID proposes direct subsidies for SETI, it should depend on peer review from members of the relevant SETI professional communities, including SETI professionals from and working in developing countries. Of course, DFID also needs professionals expert in the specific SETI fields, and perhaps more to the point, the capacity to locate and draw upon such expertise from Britain and the development community.


7. Where does innovation have the greatest potential to advance the MDGs? – This could be in specific sectors, countries or regions.

Clearly the most rapid innovation processes occur in countries which are experiencing already rapid economic growth, especially China. Similarly, the most rapid innovation processes are occurring in certain technologies, especially information and communication technologies and biotechnology. Note that very large numbers of the poor are still to be found in middle-income countries.

On the other hand, DFID should seriously consider its potential role in stimulating more rapid innovation in lagging geographic areas and fields. Thus poor countries in Africa might benefit greatly by increased rates of innovation. So too might fields such as small-farmer agriculture, primary health care, and local environmental management.

8. What should the international community do to enhance developing countries’ capacity to exploit innovation for wealth creation? Can you give any examples of good practice?

“Demand pull” or “supply push”? Should the emphasis be on creating the conditions which foster innovation or on creating the capacity to innovate? Clearly both are necessary. Where social and economic conditions discourage innovation, innovators will become frustrated and leave. Even given conducive conditions, innovation requires knowledge, skills and resources.

DFID might find it useful to differentiate between innovation in commercial versus public goods. Where conditions exist conducive to innovation in the private sector, there is a relatively good history of private sector innovation. DFID might have a greater role to play fostering innovation in public goods. In this respect, it is important to recognize that the public sector plays a greater role in very poor nations, where markets are not sufficiently developed to support high levels of commercial innovation, and where complementary institutions are weak or absent.

There is a traditional, but useful distinction made between innovation in traditional versus innovation in modernizing communities. Both are important, but successful innovation in traditional communities is perhaps more difficult, and perhaps more important in achieving the MDGs. One difference is that modernizing communities tend to have access to more modern knowledge systems – schools, agricultural and industrial extension services, market-based information services. And they have accepted these systems. The further extension of these institutions to serve subsistence populations is an important step in improving innovation in currently traditional communities. Considerable care must be taken to gain the trust of traditional peoples in these modernizing institutions, something that is difficult when rural schools and health sevices function poorly and treat their clients poorly. Moreover, traditional communities are often marginalized from the policies that promote innovation, facing social and economic climates that are not conducive to innovation. These circumstances must also be improved. Then too, modern scientific and technological knowledge must be available and accessible to these people – affordable, available geographically, in their languages, etc.

Engaging the private sector

9. What action is needed to enhance the role of the private sector in harnessing SETI for the achievement of the MDGs? How can the international community better engage with the private sector towards this end and what role should DFID play?

The private sector in developing nations must emphasize technological innovation, adaptation, deepening, and improvement. The private sector in developed nations has to increase the transfer of appropriate technologies to developing nations, especially to poor countries. In both cases, the incentives for doing so are likely to be profits. The international community should work to see that profit incentives are institutionalized, and to remove impediments that interfere with profit incentives.

It should be recognized that the private sector can be defined to include academic and civil society organizations as well as for-profit firms. Some civil society organizations, such as professional societies and the Royal Academies have an important role to play in SETI approaches to international development. Public-private partnerships should also include government partnerships with these organizations. Indeed, some domestic not-for-profit organizations might play such a role, but have little incentive to do so without government intervention. Thus, the U.S. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has played an important role in U.S. energy assistance, due to the encouragement and finance supplied by USAID.

There is also an important role for the private sector in advocacy – promoting the work of academia, government and civil society in harnessing SETI for the achievement of the MDGs. Again, the private sector will do so most effectively when it perceives a profit motivation in doing so. Still, there is a need for education to clarify for private sector leaders the importance of better SETI training in the schools and universities, the importance of better SETI in government, and the importance of better SETI in civil society organizations. Such education should also help convince the private sector of the critical need for partnerships to enable and encourage SETI.

10. What are the characteristics of successful Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), that harness or promote SETI for the achievement of the MDGs? Can you give any examples of good practice?

I would guess that the most important characteristic for success it that each partner brings to the partnership those things that it does better than the others. Government is especially good at financing that which the economist terms “public goods”. The private sector is especially good at providing goods and services for which markets exist. Civil society is especially good at providing services to those outside the market economy, It is also good at mobilizing social and political support for the actions of government and social and political concern about the actions of the for-profit sector.

It is not always important that the partnership be formally defined, nor explicit.

I would suggest that the rapid diffusion of cell phones is a good example. The international community promoted policies that would unleash competitive processes in developing countries, and many developing country governments implemented such policies. Developed country private firms took advantage of the burgeoning technological opportunities to rapidly improve cell phones and cellular services, and to lower their costs. Entrepreneurs in developing countries linked with multinational firms to go into the cellular business, and rapidly took advantage of the commercial opportunities that had been created. Social entrepreneurs, such as the Grameen Bank, seized the opportunity to invent new institutions that would enable the poor in villages and urban slums to acquire and utilize cell phone service.

The diffusion of the Internet is another example. Again, a critical step was the introduction of policies that allowed a competitive market to form for Internet service providers. The private sector appropriated the technology relatively rapidly for its own purposes, with some areas such as the hospitality and tourist industries becoming leaders. Government policies encouraged the adoption of the technology within government agencies, such as those in the education and health sector. Civil society organizations, such as professional societies both used the Internet, and helped their members to master the technology. Other civil society organizations, such as trade associations, used their influence with the government to promote pro-Internet policy changes. Civil society organizations and donors helped to pioneer new institutions such as telecenters, while the commercial sector pioneered cybercafés and Internet-connected business centers. The academic institutions were the leaders in adopting and disseminating the technology, and trained people in its use.

11. In which areas of SETI could new or enhanced PPPs add most value? – This could include PPPs in specific areas of research or product development, or in particular sectors, countries or regions.

Clearly, the geographic area most in need is Africa, although there are many enclaves of poverty in other continents, some quite large. Thus public-private partnerships would meet the most pressing needs in these geographic areas.

The geographic areas in which PPPs will be easiest to form and will be most successful are probably the newly industrialized countries. Thus the “bang-for-the-buck” may be quite high in developing countries with limited poverty but rapid economic growth.

I suggest that the most important role for public-private partnerships is in the generation of remunerative employment, and this is best done by developing industry and commerce. The poorest countries have agricultural economies, so PPPs that build agricultural employment are important for them. An example might be private firms creating markets for the product of poor farmers, and private firms creating markets for the farming inputs that the farmers use (seed, fertilizer, simple equipment) – while the public sector creates agricultural infrastructure (farm to market roads, irrigation infrastructure, etc.) and provides extension services. Tata Chemicals, Tata Kisan Sansar (TKS) program in India, which uses ICT to provide information for farmers, in conjunction with marketing inputs might be an interesting example, especially in terms of its relations with the public sector.

Countries develop economically by expanding from agricultural development to industry, commerce, and post-industrial economic activities. Thus one might expect that PPPs would be especially important in promoting that transformation. The private sector of course best runs manufacturing, many financial services, wholesale and retail trade, etc. Yet these sectors depend on the public sector policies and institutions, as well as on physical infrastructure provided by the public sector.

I would give priority to PPPs in the development of biomedical technology appropriate to the needs of poor people in developing nations. So too would I give priority to developing engineering and agricultural technology appropriate to tropical regions and poor nations. Information and Communications technology seem especially promising of high returns to investment, as they are adapted to the needs of developing nations.

Policy and practice

12. Can you give any examples of good practice in terms of how SETI has been handled in developing Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS) and other national planning processes in developing countries? Is there a role for the international community and DFID to play in supporting the representation of SETI in such processes?

The recent development of the World Bank’s Millennium Science Initiative in Uganda might be a useful example. The problem of donor funding of science and technology in poor countries is especially acute, and this project moves toward a new paradigm in that respect. The Bank and the Government agreed that a SETI project would have high priority, and each assigned a team to explore possibilities. An assessment of SETI conditions and issues was written by a joint team. Consultations were held with hundreds of Ugandan SETI leaders participating. A US$21 million project was eventually designed, based upon the findings of this process, and is to be initiated this year.

The project will utilize peer review methods extensively for allocation of resources. It will focus on creating capacity in institutions of higher education. It will emphasize investments to improve the training of people in the science-based and technology-based learned professions, such as engineers, agronomists, public-health physicians, etc. The emphasis will be neither on research nor on innovation, but on good professional practice in areas with strong public-goods aspects. S&T education will be a strong focus.

13. How could DFID improve the treatment of SETI in Country Assistance Plans? How might it better engage with its partners in developing countries in this process?

I have no comments on the treatment of SETI in DFID’s Country Assistance Plans.

It is hard not to encourage coordination, but it must be recognized that coordination consumes resources that could be used for other aspects of management of DFID’s development portfolio. It is also important to recognize that coordination will occur to a large degree because of the participation of professionals in DFID, in other donors, in the governments of developing countries, and in other organizations in professional societies and institutions which share knowledge and understanding.

Still, I suggest it would be useful for DFID to coordinate more with other donors on SETI issues. DFID could encourage the donor community to be more explicit about SETI aspects of donor assistance policies and projects in order to facilitate such coordination. It would be especially useful to encourage multilateral agencies to lead in coordination of SETI. They have the resources to do so with developing countries, and the multilateral efforts could then serve as a basis for achieving more synergy among bilateral programs as well.

Developing country governments may be encouraged to deal more explicitly and formally with SETI policy. They will need a strengthened capacity (training, technical assistance, institution building) to do so well. It is important to recognize that SETI policies best develop from the interplay of government, the private sector, civil society, and the SETI institutions themselves. Policy-making capacity has to be strengthened across the board!

The best encouragement might be in the form of support to projects, programs and countries with sound development policies that effectively include SETI concerns, although it is hard to make decisions about the quality of government policies and institutions.

14. What should DFID do to enhance the role that research plays in informing policy and practice, both in developing countries and in DFID?

It has been very difficult to move toward knowledge based practice in the United Kingdom and other developed nations! The efforts to improve the scientific basis of medical practice are at least one hundred years old, and many are still dissatisfied with the results. Fast results should not be expected in poor countries, when results have come only slowly in the histories of rich countries.

Some approaches are obvious, although perhaps not from the viewpoint of donor assistance agencies. Professional standards must be set, and institutionalized, for the science-based and technology-based learned professions. Guidelines and standards should be institutionalized for the levels of professional training and skills required fro different functions in government and industry. Professionals must be certified. Certification should be introduced in science-based and technology-based education, especially higher education. Donor assistance projects and programs must insist on high quality SETI components. Continuing education must be offered for people in the science-based and technology-based learned professions appropriate to their needs and the needs of their countries. Incentives should be institutionalized to encourage their continuing education, and sanctions when professionals fail to keep up their skills. Peer review should be institutionalized for professional services.

One especially important aspect for DFID’s consideration is that donor assistance should build local SETI capacity. There is a tendency for donor agencies to rely on staff and consultants from abroad, but science, engineering and technological skills are best learned by doing. Donors, and developing country governments, should use professionals from developing nations in project planning and implementation, even when it appears more costly in time and money to do so. The extra cost should be seen as an investment in capacity development. The developing country expertise can be, and often should be from the country benefiting from the assistance itself. However, employment of consulting firms from the region (even outside the beneficiary nation) builds regional SETI capacity. DFID should use its own projects and program portfolio to build local SETI capacity by creating professional opportunities, and also should encourage the international financial institutions to do so.

Improving the role of research in policy is a somewhat different matter. First, the pot should not call the kettle black! DFID itself has significant problems with knowledge management – the ability to base its own policies firmly on research. DFID should improve its knowledge management practice.

Note that it is critical to get the results of social science research into science, engineering, technology and innovation policy. It is sometimes hard for physical scientists, engineers, physicians, and others to appreciate their need for inputs from economists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and organizational scientists. DFID can help to overcome this problem, especially by itself assuming leadership in bridging the gap. So too, DFID can help by leadership in its own program in bridging the gap between the science and technology community and the humanities communities, between science and culture.

European research output has now surpassed that of North America, and Asian research output is projected to do so in a few decades. World production of research results is huge and increasing. It takes a large, highly-professional staff to keep up. In this regard, DFID seems at a disadvantage as compared with larger organizations such as the World Bank. DFID’s comparative advantage lies in its ability to tap the expertise of British academic institutions, and it should continue to do so. Reliance on Royal Academies and professional societies for SETI advice seems especially prudent.

Of course, the more important and more difficult task is in getting developing countries themselves to improve the use of research in their policy making. Obviously, before it is used the research has to be done, and that means it has to be financed. So too, the research results have to be disseminated. The Internet facilitates such dissemination, as do other novel technologies, but there has to be more done to allow free and open distribution of research results to developing nations. The policy making process has to be opened up in many developing countries. SETI related policies, especially, benefit from effective interplay among government, academia, professional societies, academies of science, civil society, and industrial groups. Institution building is needed in all these sectors. People in all these sectors have to be trained in knowledge-based policy formulation. Ultimately, the science-based and technology-based learned professions and the SETI understanding of the public and national leadership have to be strengthened. Levels have to be elevated, both in quantity and quality.

15. Can you give any examples of good practice where SETI has improved governance or service delivery, in particular in fragile states?

The place to look for good examples of SETI improvements in service delivery is not fragile states, but nations that are developing strongly. In failed states, conditions are usually too chaotic to support science, engineering, technology or innovation. But clearly, the newly industrialized states all show strong rates of innovation, and build science, engineering and technology quickly.

e-Government is perhaps an example of the way in which SETI can promote improved governance. Opening government procurement via online solicitations seems to have reduced corruption. Provision of government information online may have improved transparency. Putting transactions on the Internet seems to be improving government services. Innovations such as community radio and the Internet are strengthening citizen knowledge of government actions, and ultimately giving more voice to the governed.


16. What approach should DFID take to horizon scanning, for example to identify how SETI could help or hinder development in the long term? How should DFID coordinate these activities with similar exercises undertaken in the UK and internationally? Can you give any examples of good practice?

There is a need for developing countries as well as other donors to be involved in collaborative horizon scanning in SETI. The UN agencies (WHO, FAO, UNIDO, UNFPA, etc.) should be an important venue for such scanning, and for coming to agreements among nations as to what SETI priorities should be. DFID’s recent evaluation of these multilateral organizations seems to have missed this point, and DFID’s use of the reports of those evaluations in governance organs of those organizations seems to have been less than helpful.

DFID might consider methods used in other nations for horizon scanning. In the United States, for example, USAID has had a science advisor and is considering reestablishing the post. It has a central bureau responsible for SETI functions, that seeks to establish a critical mass of professionals in each of USAID’s areas of assistance. USAID maintains contracts with many organizations to provide SETI services, including horizon scanning; these contracts include indefinite quantity contracts that can be used to provide SETI services quickly from pre-qualified sources. It has created relationships with an extensive cadre of consultants who are available to provide expert advice on an individual basis. It has fellowship and exchange programs to bring SETI professionals from academia into the Agency on a rotating basis. USAID has a long term association with the U.S. National Academies and with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and can draw upon these agencies for SETI advice.

17. Are there any other areas where you feel there is particular scope for the international community and DFID to improve their approach to using and supporting SETI?

Yes. The overall tone of the questions posed suggests an excessive emphasis in DFID’s thinking on research and experimental development of technology, and on technological innovation. These are important, but I would suggest that the importance of strong professional services have not been sufficiently recognized. For example, good engineering practice is essential for the efficient and effective development and operation of a nation’s physical infrastructure. And that infrastructure is critical to economic development and to meeting the MDGs.

I would give highest priority to developing strong cadres in the science-based and technology-based learned professions, focusing especially on those providing services with strong externalities. Areas such as public health, the control of diseases of livestock, control of crop pests and diseases, soil science, weather prediction, water resource management, forest management, fisheries management, geological surveying, cadastral surveying, food safety, and industrial standards all require highly trained professionals, and all provide significant social benefits beyond their costs.

Especially important is the development of cadres of adequately trained teachers for the SETI subjects in secondary and vocational schools and universities!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"The Consequences of Global Educational Expansion: Social Science Perspectives"

This report summarizes the information from economics, sociology and other social sciences about the consequences of education in developing nations. It is structured to examine the evidence supporting or challenging the following common assumptions: "• Human capital stock is central to national economic development, as better-educated citizens are more productive. • Within societies, the expansion of educational opportunities enables individuals to improve their economic circumstances. • Educational expansion narrows social inequalities within nations by promoting a meritocratic basis for status attainment. • Countries with better-educated citizens have healthier populations, as educated individuals make more informed health choices, live longer, and have healthier children. • The populations of countries with more educated people grow more slowly, as educated citizens are able to implement a virtuous cycle of having fewer children. • Countries with more educated populations are more democratic, as their citizens are able to make more informed political decisions. Emily Hannum and Claudia Buchmann, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2003. (PDF, 44 pages.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

International Scientific & Engineering Academies

The Sigma Xi International Newsletter (Volume 4, Number 7/8; July/August 2005) provides this list of academies of science.

Regional networks of academies

All European Academies (ALLEA): European Federation of National Academies of Sciences and Humanities

Association of Academies of Sciences in Asia (AASA)

Comunidad Científica del Caribe (CCC)/Caribbean Scientific Union

European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC)

European Council of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering (Euro-CASE)

Federación Latinoamericana de Academias de Ciencias (FELAC)
no Web site or contact information found

Federation of Asian Scientific Academies (FASAS)*
*Web site currently under construction

InterAcademy Council (IAC)

Interacademy Panel on International Issues (IAP)

InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS)

International Association of Academies of Science (IAAS)

International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS)

Network of Academies of Sciences in the countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (NASIC)

Network of African Science Academies (NASAC)

Transnational academies

Academia de Ciencias de América Latina (ACAL)

Academia Europaea

Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)

African Academy of Sciences (AAS)

Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Islamic Academy of Sciences (IAS)

Pacific Academy of Sciences (PAS)

Universal Basic and Secondary Education

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Project website:

"What would it take to ensure that every child in the world, from age 6 to 16, receives an education of good quality? How important is universal education compared to other development objectives such as health, nutrition, income, and physical security? Would a concerted effort to provide universal education help reduce birth rates in countries where rapid population growth impedes economic development, damages the environment, and depresses living standards?

"These are some of the questions that are being addressed in a major Academy project, Universal Basic and Secondary Education (UBASE), led by Joel Cohen (Rockefeller and Columbia Universities) and David Bloom (Harvard School of Public Health). The project is assembling teams of scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of fields to begin the preliminary study of the rationale, means, and consequences of providing universal education. Participants will offer informed but fresh perspectives on the magnitude of the challenge, the opportunity costs, and the potential benefits of such an ambitious undertaking."

Note the publications from the project:

- The Consequences of Global Educational Expansion: Social Science Perspectives

- Education for all: an unfinished revolution

A recent press release from the project states that not only is Universal Primary Education financially possible in the foreseeable future, but so too is Universal Secondary Education.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Asian scientists 'set to overtake US research output'

SciDev.Net article:

"The number of scientific papers published by researchers in the Asia-Pacific region could exceed the number from the United States within six or seven years, says a US report published in the July/August issue of ScienceWatch.

"Asia-Pacific nations, led by China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, produced 25 per cent of the world's scientific papers in 2004, just below the United States with 33 per cent. European researchers produced 38 per cent of the papers."

Jobs in Multilateral Development Agencies

I have tried to gather in this place links to the job sites for the largest and most important multilateral development agencies:

This is a very good website from the United Nations in Denmark with links to multilateral agency employment websites.

Job Websites of Multilateral Financial Institutions

The World Bank (IBRD, IFC, IDA)

The International Monitary Fund (IMF)

The African Development Bank AfDB)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The InterAmerican Development Bank (IADB)

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Job Websites of United Nations Family and Similar Institutions

Jobs@UN The Canadian United Nations Association provides this website on jobs at the United Nations.

UN Jobs This is the website of a Swiss organization not associated with the United Nations, that nevertheless lists jobs at the UN.

The United Nations (UN) This website provides listings of vacancies for the UN system.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

The International Labor Organization (ILO)

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

The UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF)

The UN Environmental Program (UNEP)

The World Health Organization (WHO)

The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)

The UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA)

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

United Nations University (UNU)

World Food Program

The World Trade Organization (WTO)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Technology and Poverty Reduction in Asia and the Pacific

Technology and Poverty Reduction in Asia and the Pacific website:

"This publication, with a Preface by ADB President Tadao Chino and OECD Development Centre President Jorge Braga de Macedo, arises from the Seventh International Forum on Asian Perspectives. The Forum was jointly organized by the Asian Development Bank and the OECD Development Centre on 18-19 June 2001 in Paris with the theme 'Technology and Poverty Reduction in Asia and the Pacific.'

"The book brings together the papers and speeches presented at the Forum. The book notes that technology should be a focal point to improve economic welfare and reduce poverty. Two key sets of technologies, namely, agricultural technologies and information and communication technologies, serve as its principal focus.

"The discussions and recommendations included in the book provide an excellent set of policy advice for pursuing technological progress and poverty reduction. "

a More Effective NSF Role in International Science and Engineering

Report: Toward a More Effective NSF Role in International Science and Engineering

This is a 2001 report of the National Science Board.

An Emerging and Critical Problem of the Science and Engineering Labor Force

The National Science Board's Companion to the Science and Engineering Indicators, 2004 report:

"Every two years the National Science Board supervises the collection of a very broad set of data trends in science and technology in the United States, which it publishes as Science and Engineering Indicators (Indicators). In preparing Indicators 2004, we have observed a troubling decline in the number of U.S. citizens who are training to become scientists and engineers, whereas the number of jobs requiring science and engineering (S&E) training continues to grow. Our recently published report entitled The Science and Engineering Workforce/Realizing America's Potential (NSB 03-69, 2003) comes to a similar conclusion. These trends threaten the economic welfare and security of our country."

Friday, July 22, 2005

IDRC- UNESCO Workshop: Future Direction of National Innovation and Science Policy Reviews: International Development Research Centre

IDRC- UNESCO Workshop website

"A joint IDRC/ UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) workshop entitled "Future Directions of National Innovation and Science Policy Reviews" brought together about 50 clients and users of science and technology (S&T) reviews in Paris, 23-24 April 2003."

S&T Capacity Building in Africa

SciDev.Net S&T Capacity Building in Africa conference website:

"News reports, transcripts and other material from an international seminar being held in London on 31 January and 1 February 2005.

"The meeting brings together African, British and Canadian policy-makers, researchers and research users to discuss how to collaborate more effectively in building science and technology capacity in Africa."

Major Recent Reports About Science, Technology and Development

There are a number of reports that have been issued recently about Science, Technology and Development. While there have been many reports on agricultural, environmental, health and information and communications science and technology, I am focusing on those reports which are cross-sectoral. Here is my list of the most important of those:

Science and Technology for Sustainable Development: A G8 Action Plan
G8 Meeting, Evian (France), 2003.

Innovation: Applying Science and Technology to Development
UN Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation, 2005
This report is also to be found on the Harvard website.

Interim Report of Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation
UN Millennium Project Task force on Science, Technology and Innovation, 2004.

Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology
InterAcademy Council, 2004.

The Use of Science in UK International Development Policy UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, 2004.

Science, Technology and Innovation for the 21st Century
Meeting of the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy at Ministerial Level, 2004. (Note Appendix 2, "Declaration On International Science And Technology Co-Operation For Sustainable Development".)

Knowledge for Development
World Bank, World Development Report, 1998/99

Strategic approaches to science and technology in development
The World Bank, 2003.

Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education
The World Bank, 2002.

Human Development Report 2001: Making new technologies work for human development
UNDP, 2001.

World Employment Report, 2001: Life at Work in the Information Economy
ILO, 2001.

Building Science Capacity: A TWAS Perspective
Third World Academy of Science, 2004.

Science Education and Capacity Building for Sustainable Development
ICSU, 2002.

Foresight Analysis
ICSU Committee on Strategic Planning and Review, 2004.

Priority Area Assessment (PAA) on Data and Information
ICSU Committee on Strategic Planning and Review, 2004.

Priority Area Assessment (PAA) on Environment
ICSU Committee on Strategic Planning and Review, 2004.

PCAST Report on Sustainable Development
President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, 1997.

Science and Technology Collaboration: Building Capacity in Developing Countries
RAND, 2001.

Proceedings of the World Conference on Science
UNESCO, 2000.

Harnessing Science to Society: a report on the first 30 months of follow-up
UNESCO, 2002.

World Science Report, 1998
UNESCO, 1998.

Closing the Gap
InterAmerican Development Bank, 1997.

Toward a More Effective Role for the U.S. Government in International Science and Engineering
Report of the National Science Board, 2002.

Toward a More Effective NSF Role in International Science and Engineering
Report of the National Science Board, 2001.

Note also these conferences:

Building S&T Capacity with African Partners
Conference brought together African, British and Canadian policy-makers, researchers and research users to discuss how to collaborate more effectively in building science and technology capacity in Africa. SciDev.Net, 2005.

Future Direction of National Innovation and Science Policy Reviews
SciDev.Net: IDRC-UNESCO Workshop, 2003.

Technology and Poverty Reduction in Asia and the Pacific
Asian Development Bank, 2002.

Science, Technology And Innovation For The 21st Century
Meeting of the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP) at Ministerial Level, Paris, 29-30 January 2004

First Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities of Science and Technology within the Framework of CIDI
Organization of American States, 2004.

The Role of Science in the Information Society
Preliminary meeting to the World Summit on the Information Society, 2003.

Here are a some important sources of S&T data, not specific to developing nations.

Science and Engineering Indicators, 2004
National Science Foundation, 2004.

OECD Science, Technology and Industry (STI) Outlook 2004
OECD, 2004.

OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2003
OECD, 2003.

"The Impact Of Research Led Agricultural Productivity Growth On Poverty Reduction In Africa, Asia And Latin America"

King's College London Working Paper

Summary: "Twenty percent of the world population, or 1.2 billion live on less than $1 per day; 70% of these are rural and 90% in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Research led technological change in agriculture generates sufficient productivity growth to give high rates of return in Africa and Asia and has a substantial impact on poverty, currently reducing this number by 27 million per annum, whereas productivity growth in industry and services has no impact. The per capita 'cost' of poverty reduction by means of agricultural research expenditures in Africa is $144 and in Asia $180, or 50 cents per day, but this is covered by output growth. By contrast, the per capita cost for the richer countries of Latin America is over $11,000."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Senate Trims Bush's Foreign Aid Request

SFGate.Com article (San Francisco Chronicle)

"The Senate on Wednesday cut President Bush's request for foreign aid and the State Department's budget by about 3 percent to free $1 billion for domestic programs.

"The $31.8 billion measure passed by a 98-1 vote after a debate that spanned four days even though the bill was devoid of controversy.

"The House had passed an even larger cut of about $3 billion from Bush's request when passing a similar bill last month."

Science-based and technology-based learned professions in development

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the "learned" professions are those requiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction and study as distinguished from a general academic education and from an apprenticeship and from training in the performance of routine mental, manual, or physical processes. "They include law, medicine, nursing, accounting, actuarial computation, engineering, architecture, teaching, various types of physical, chemical, and biological sciences, including pharmacy and registered or certified medical technology and so forth. The typical symbol of the professional training and the best prima facie evidence of its possession is, of course, the appropriate academic degree, and in these professions an advanced academic degree is a standard (if not universal) perquisite."

I want here to focus on the science-based and technology-based, learned professions. That would leave out from list above such professions as law and accounting. The engineering professions might be considered prototypical technology-based, learned professions. Meteorology and epidemiology might be considered prototypical science-based, learned professions. I don't think that the distinction between science-based and technology-based learned professions is common nor well established, but it is not important for the point I would make here. I refer to the two, together.

I would distinguish between those learned professionals who deal with public services and those who deal with services to individuals. Thus, I distinguish between public health physicians and epidemiological versus physicians and nurses in clinical practice; between engineers versus architects designing buildings for individual clients. (And indeed, the distinction extends to other learned professions, separating for example, judges who define legal precedents and interpret the law from lawyers who advocate for individual clients.)

I suggest that those in the learned professions providing public services are generally less likely to be able to appropriate a large share of the benefits created by their services than those providing private services. Thus, the social benefits from a railroad, road, or dam built on the basis of civil engineering services are likely to greatly outweigh the salaries paid to those civil engineers. The social benefits accruing from the services of a public health campaign are likely to greatly exceed the salaries paid to the public health physicians who run those campaigns. The social benefits that occur from good weather predictions are likely to far exceed the pay of the meteorologists making those predictions.

The science-based and technology-based learned professions are recognized as having high returns to investment in human resources. The high salaries accorded to physicians, engineer-entrepreneurs, and some other professionals can be measured, and suggest the high private-returns to scientific and technological higher education.

The social returns to public services by the science-based and technology-based, learned professions are difficult to measure, and I suspect that they are too often overlooked by development economists.

Science and Technology policy seems to me to have emphasized research and development (R&D) and, more recently, technological innovation. Good professional engineering is, to my mind, neither R&D nor innovation. Neither is the professional work of the entomologists working in plant pest control, nor the soil scientists working on maintaining soil fertility, nor the scientists working in plant and animal disease control. Nor is the work of epidemiologists and public health physicians working to reduce communicable and other diseases.

We know that poor countries do very little R&D, spending a much lower portion of their GDPs on research than do more affluent countries. While R&D is critically important for development, the developing nations are probably economically rational in spending only sparsely on R&D.

Innovation is clearly critically important, but much of the innovation that occurs in developing nations is in the form of adaptation and adoption of technology from abroad. Some have suggested that technology deepening, with the increasing mastery of technology transferred from abroad, is more important for poor nations than technological invention. While much of the innovation in poor countries is accomplished in low-technology industries, and can be done by people without professional scientific nor technological status, as these countries move into higher-technology, more extensive cadres of professionally trained people will be required. But even low-technology innovation in poor countries seems to benefit from the presence of engineer and scientifically trained managers, and from some professionals in the workforce. Of course, some innovations, such as in public health and medical standards require fully trained professionals in all countries.

I suggest that the public services of the science-based and technology-based learned professions may be as or more important than either R&D or innovation for poor countries. I further suggest that the training for such professions and building capacity of institutions that utilize their services for the public good should be given a very high priority in development programs for poor countries.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

World Universities' ranking on the Web

World Universities' ranking on the Web: Home

Numbers within the top 1000 universities, as ranked by presence on the WWW:

- USA-Canada 501

- Europe 349

- Asia-Oceania 123

- Latin America 22

- Africa 5

Engineering is as vital as R&D for development

Read my SciDev.Net letter to the editor: "Engineering is as vital as R&D for development"

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Nelson Mandela Institution For Knowledge Building

Nelson Mandela Institution For Knowledge Building website:

"The Nelson Mandela Institution for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa is a private and independent organization established to provide the leadership needed to address the growing knowledge gap between Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the rest of the world, and to play bothdirect and catalytic roles in improving learning and the application of science and technology to the development needs of SSA."

Aid Harmonization

Special Report - Development Gateway:

"The year 2005 is a landmark year for aid effectiveness. It marks the beginning of a 10-year project to achieve the Millennium Development Goals aimed at significantly reducing global poverty by 2015. How donor countries can work together to achieve these ambitious goals, adopted by the UN in 2000, was a major topic of discussion at the July 2005 G8 Summit. The topic is now resonating around the world as all stakeholders in the aid community prepare for the MDG 5 Summit at the United Nations in September 2005.

"This Special Report focuses on aid harmonization, a new framework for how donors may soon be conducting business in the developing world. This report contains interviews and feedback from the donor community, from aid recipients, from civil society, and from private citizens discussing the complexities of donor harmonization--and the promise it holds for meeting the MDGs in the developing world. You will find here links to resources about MDG-related aid projects, opportunities to participate in reader polls on aid issues, and opinions from Development Gateway members. "

In Memorium: Francesco di Castri

Sid Passman informs me that the following was published yesterday in the Washington Post:

"Francesco di Castri, 74, an ecologist, former deputy director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and former president of the World Science Institute, died July 6 in Nimes, France. No cause of death was reported.

"Dr. di Castri was the founding director of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme, considered one of UNESCO's principal contributions in promoting international cooperation on environmental issues. He also was the director of the French CNRS Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, worked as a university professor in Santiago, Chile, and became an expert on the moai statues of Easter Island.

"With Michel Batisse, he nurtured the birth and development of the biosphere reserve concept and the designation of the early biosphere reserves.

"A prolific writer with more than 20 books and 350 articles to his credit, Dr. di Castri's work addressed such matters as quantitative soil biology, the convergence of Mediterranean ecosystems and the structure of animal communities from the tropics to Antarctica."

Unprepared for a Flu Pandemic

New York Times editorial: (Free registration required.)

"If a much-feared pandemic of avian influenza starts sweeping through the world's population anytime soon, neither the United States nor international health authorities will be prepared to cope with it. There is not enough vaccine or antiviral medicine available to protect more than a handful of people, and no industrial capacity to produce a lot more of these medicines quickly."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Email forwarding amounts to ritual gift exchange

New Scientist article:

"Forwarding a quirky email or an amusing link or video attachment to colleagues may seem innocent enough, but it is the modern equivalent of ritual gift exchange and carries with it similar social implications, say US researchers...........

"Forwarding a genuinely amusing or interesting link to a friend, for example, shows that you are thinking of them and are aware of the sort of content they like, Gross says. But passing an irrelevant or out-of-date link on to contacts can be annoying, thus lowering the sender's social status in the recipient’s eyes."

Nelson Mandela joins the ranks of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors

UNESCO Media services release:

"Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, has been designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador by Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, in a ceremony today at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mr Mandela has been awarded the title 'in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the fight against apartheid and racial discrimination, in his country and worldwide; for his dedication to reconciliation between different communities; his unfailing commitment to democracy, equality and learning; his support for all the oppressed of the Earth; and his exemplary contribution to international peace and understanding.'"

Monday, July 11, 2005

G8 leaders give indirect boost for science in Africa

SciDev.Net article:

"The leaders of the world's most industrialised nations (G8) have given their joint backing to the development of 'centres of excellence' within science and technology institutions in Africa.

"In a communique issued at end of their annual summit, this year in Gleneagles, Scotland, the G8 leaders also urged support for 'networks of excellence' linking institutions of higher education in Africa and in other countries, suggesting that these are needed to help develop 'skilled professionals for Africa's private and public sectors'."

A check-list for science in Africa

SciDev.Net editorial:

"A number of key ideas have emerged from recent debates about Africa's needs for capacity in science and technology. Each should be kept in mind when implementing the conclusions of the G8 summit."

25 big questions facing science over the next quarter-century

125th Anniversary Issue: Science Online Special Feature (I think a subscription is required, although Science sometimes makes content like this freely available on its website.)

"In a special collection of articles published beginning 1 July 2005, Science Magazine and its online companion sites celebrate the journal's 125th anniversary with a look forward -- at the most compelling puzzles and questions facing scientists today."

As scientists move (with increasing rapidity) toward the solution of these problems, the technological spin-offs will revolutionize our world!


Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) are the driving force behind the overall development strategy of many developing countries. The report focuses on 33 countries that had completed their report as of 1 December, 2003. The author reports: "All reviewed PRSPs underline that economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition for poverty reduction..... infrastructure interventions are mainly focused on the development of the rural/agricultural and private sectors...... Infrastructure development strategies in the rural/agricultural sector include the development of rural roads, electricity, and telecommunications...... support for Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), is also one of the prevailing strategies in PRSPs.....Infrastructure interventions for SME development are designed to build the enabling business environment..... They mainly focus on the improvement and expansion of roads to facilitate logistics and the development of electricity and telecommunication networks..... All PRSPs underline the importance of other infrastructure interventions in the social and/or economic sectors. In particular, most PRSPs recommend improving the water and sanitation systems and expanding them to better reach the poor. Several PRSPs also underline that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can play an important role in human resources development (e.g., by improving education systems), in increasing access to markets and attracting investment, and in promoting good governance by strengthening information sharing and transparency (for example, through egovernment). The major challenge for infrastructure development strategies in PRSPs is whether they can introduce sustainable maintenance mechanisms by systematically securing financial and human resources...... the cost of inaction due to lack of financing can dramatically curtail efforts to achieving the Millennium Development Goals." By Namomichi Murooka, DAC Network on Poverty Reduction, OECD, October 2004. (PDF, 43 pages.)

The human resources which are likely to be hardest to train, most in demand, and providing the best overall return to investment in education are engineers!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Director-General addresses the Permanent Delegations on the WSIS:

UNESCO release:

"On 8 July 2005, the Director-General held an information meeting for Permanent Delegations on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to brief them on the preparation of the second phase of the WSIS, which will take place in Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Statement of the Heads of Academies of Science on Science and Africa

Read the (short) statement.

The heads on nine science academies jointly signed this statement on "Science and Technology for African Development". It underlines the importance of science and technology if Africa is to achieve sustained development. It was prepared in preparation for last week's G8 meeting in Scotland.

Friday, July 08, 2005

UNESCO Library - Periodicals

UNESCO Library - Periodicals

UNESCO publishes many newsletters and magazines. You can reach them all from this central website.

Helping a Troubled Continent

Commentary by Lee H. Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson Center President and Director :

"This week's G-8 summit will inevitably produce soaring rhetoric about the international commitment to Africa's future. Making rhetoric a reality will demand a new chapter of responsible governance within Africa, and support from the international community that is sincere, focused, and sustained. "

G8 Gleneagles 2005

G8 Gleneagles 2005 Website

The UK has provided this website for the G8 meeting in Gleneagles. The website provides briefing materials on "policy issues" related to African development and climate change. It will post the communiques from the meeting, and has information on recent G8 meetings.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Science 'key to African future'

BBC NEWS article:

"If all the aid from Live 8 was spent on agricultural colleges rather than relief, Ethiopia would not be in difficulties today.

"So says Professor Calestous Juma, co-ordinator of the UN's Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation."

Who are most victimized by the London bombings?

The bombings were terrible, with scores killed and hundreds wounded, but those who suffer most are likely to be Africans.

Some 50,000 people die each day in Africa. The vast majority of these would live years longer, had they had the good fortune to be born and live in England or the United States. The G8 meeting is to have focused on development in Africa and Global Warming. If global warming is allowed to continue, it is the Africans who will suffer most, since their food production will be most affected, and their food security is already the most threatened.

It seems unfortunately clear that Tony Blair will not be able to make the case he had hoped to his peers on the importance of improving the rate of economic development in Africa and on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and thus reducing the rate of global warming. If the result is a less ambitious program, it is the poor in Africa who will suffer most. Their excess deaths and disability will dwarf those of the English killed and wounded by today’s bombs!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"Africa's economy: Aid and growth"

OECD Observer article:

"The recent history of the world's second largest continent has been plagued by internal conflict, famine and disease. But recent economic prospects for Africa are looking more favourable than they have for a number of years."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Knowledge and Understanding as Qualifications for the Supreme Court

The discussion of the appointment of a new U.S. Supreme Court Justice that is taking place in the media seems to focus almost entirely on the ideological positions of the candidates. Ideology is too often the antagonist of knowledge and understanding.

The first qualification of the next Justice should be strong moral character. He or she should be an ethical person who not only will try to do the right thing, but who will be assumed to do so as a result of the reputation gained by a lifetime of ethical behavior.

The person should be of balanced disposition, with a temperament that allows rational thought always to be brought to bear on the issues before the Court.

I would like a person thoroughly expert in the law, and especially in constitutional law. The Supreme Court bench does not have training wheels. Indeed, the person should have the demonstrated ability to lead a team of clerks in analyzing legal issues, and a demonstrated ability to successfully debate legal issues with his peers, such as will be required on the Supreme Court.

Perhaps more important, the person should have a strong grasp of history, and the impact of the Court as well as of the law on society. The rulings of the Supreme Court must be understood in the largest context.

The person should have the ability to frame decisions (and dissents) in ways that clarify principles of law and the constitution, when it is appropriate to do so, to avoid inadvertent framing that creates spurious clarification when it is not appropriate to clarify, and the wisdom to recognize the difference.

The person should be humane, understanding how to temper justice with mercy, and understanding when and how to do so from the Supreme Court bench.

The person should be wise, and should have the authority given to those who are known to be wise.

The expertise and legitimate intellectual authority will not be found other than in a gifted legal scholar, who has demonstrated long dedication to the study of the law and society.

Among the few candidates who combine such qualifications, the President can choose whichever pleases him best on ideological grounds.

Monday, July 04, 2005

DFID Consultations

DFID website for the consultation:

The British government's Department for International Development (DFID) "recognises that science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) have an important role to play in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in supporting development beyond 2015. In the words of DFID?s Secretary of State, Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP, 'Science and technology are vital for development, and vital for our fight against world poverty'.

DFID is now in the process of developing a Science and Innovation Strategy. The work is being led by DFID's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir Gordon Conway. The Strategy will provide a scientific lens for DFID thinking and future policy development and will help guide our engagement on SETI with our partners in developing countries and the international community, as well as in the UK."

DFID is inviting comments from people in developing nations, partner organizations, and others on this strategy

Bird flu experts warn of pandemic

BBC NEWS article:

"Scientists meeting in Malaysia have warned the world has reached a tipping point in the fight against bird flu. They are calling on rich nations to pump resources into countries fighting bird flu or risk a global flu pandemic."

Can the world afford to save the lives of 6 million children each year?

The Lancet article:

"US$5.1 billion in new resources is needed annually to save 6 million child lives in the 42 countries responsible for 90% of child deaths in 2000. This cost represents $1.23 per head in these countries, or an average cost per child life saved of $887. Sensitivity analyses for salary levels for community delivery agents, drug costs, and coverage rates for 2000 were used to develop uncertainty estimates around the US$ 5.1 billion annual price tag that range from about $3.1 billion to $8.0 billion."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Grand Challenges in Global Health

Read about the winners:

"The Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative has offered 43 grants to teams of scientists working on solutions to scientific and technological problems that could clear the way for dramatic improvements in global health."

Will the Trickle of Aid Turn Into a Flow?

Washington Post article:

"With celebrities such as the rock star Bono exhorting the world's youth to demand justice for Africa's poor from the leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations, the annual G-8 summit this week is fraught with more excitement than usual. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the host of the summit in Scotland, shares many of the goals of the 'Make Poverty History' campaign (or the ONE campaign, as the initiative in the United States is known), and he has put top priority on securing the backing of his fellow leaders for a $25 billion increase in annual aid to Africa plus a massive write-off of poor countries' debts."

Live 8: Pop Culture for Development

"Live 8 rocks the world, but will it help the poor?" - Yahoo! News article

Ten concerts, including one is each of the G-8 countries and one in South Africa; 160 of the most popular bands in the world; a million people attending; televised to a potential audience of two billion. Live 8 should show the politicians that people care!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

"G8 leaders must help African science help itself"

John Mugabe's SciDev.Net editorial:

"Many African leaders now accept that science and technology have key roles to play in achieving their development goals. The industrialised world must support their efforts to translate this insight into action, says John Mugabe."

"Scientists and engineers: Crisis, what crisis?"

OECD Observer article:

"Just as demand for scientists worldwide is booming, many countries are warning of a looming shortage. Are they right?"

Investments in Knowledge in Rich Countries

OECD Observer: "Sum of knowledge":

"How much do our knowledge-based societies actually invest in knowledge? .........the latest comparable data for the OECD comes from 2000, when average investment in knowledge came to 4.8% of GDP. Sweden spent the most on knowledge, with 7.2% of GDP, followed by the US (6.8%) and Finland (6.2%). Overall, the ratio is 2.8 percentage points higher in the US than in the EU. Investment in knowledge was lowest (below 2.5% of GDP) in southern and central Europe, and Mexico"