April 30, 2009 – Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Former Science Adviser to the Japanese Cabinet and leading Japanese advocate on science and technology innovation, led discussions at the World Bank with experts from government, academia and the private sector, on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) capacity building for sustainable development and the potential role of the World Bank Group in brokering these strategic partnerships. STI partnerships have been established in order to reduce poverty, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, generate wealth, create better paying jobs, and foster sustainable development.
Innovative proposals for STI partnership programs include: A visiting professor program, referred to as a “Professor Corps” where accomplished professors spend a significant amount of time in a developing country, focusing on building capacity for the indigenous scientific community; and a Venture Capitalist in Residence program or “Venture Corps” where business innovators and entrepreneurs create an interface between the scientific and financing communities for the innovation of new products and services based on local scientific achievements.
“There are many existing networks and partnerships for higher education and training in the developing world which might be used as platforms for providing sustainable STI partnerships”, said Elizabeth King, Human Development’s Director for Education at the Bank. “This is an exciting potential new area for the Bank Group.”
These initiatives all revolve around a common theme: promoting knowledge and capacity flows from development partners – in both the North and South - who have an abundance of technical expertise and capacity building prowess to bring to developing country clients who need to augment their STI capacity. The overarching question is how to design and implement these partnerships so that developing countries build and sustain the STI capacity they need to address their high priority development needs.
Christian Delvoie, Director of the Knowledge Strategy Group, who is leading efforts to develop the Bank’s new knowledge agenda as a strategic priority, stressed the important role insightful knowledge has in decision-making and highlighted four STI-relevant components of the World Bank Group’s Knowledge Strategy:
Leverage WBG’s global excellence across regions and sectors to provide innovative knowledge products and solutions for member countries;
Strengthening WBG partnerships with external networks with strategic emphasis on South-South cooperation and dialogue;
Unleash local entrepreneurship, synergies and knowledge networks to develop new strategic development partnerships; and
Position the Bank as a world class knowledge platform for policy discussions
Christian Delvoie explains how STI capacity building fits within the Bank’s Knowledge Strategy
As part of its core work program, the STI Global Expert Team (GET), one of the Bank Group’s ten new GETs, is planning to organize a Global Forum on STI Capacity Building Partnerships for Sustainable Development to be held at the Bank in mid-December. The Forum will provide an excellent opportunity for Japan, the United States, other countries and partners to showcase new approaches and leading edge initiatives, to help other donors establish their own partnership initiatives, and to share cross-cutting ideas among participants.
Participating in the April 30 discussion were many key S&T for development stakeholders including Dr. Nina Fedoroff, S&T Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State, and Peter McPherson, past USAID Administrator and current President of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. This group of 20 international experts posed and attempted to answer some key questions associated with STI partnership programs including:
Can there be systematic efforts to exploit the potential synergy between individual partnership proposals and is there a role for the Bank in adding a sustainability factor to these initiatives?
How can governance issues be addressed in the partnership programs that are currently under way or under discussion?
How does the availability of new technology (especially communications technology and new media) facilitate new forms of partnerships, especially for collaborative research and distance education?
How to provide basic needs for the potential influx of STI capacity (i.e. housing, ICT, visa support and other critical infrastructure) which are needed to sustain an intellectual network in a developing country setting?
What is the role of the private sector in building the innovative capacity in developing countries?
Dr. Kurokawa discusses STI partnerships at expert roundtable: Shown: Peter McPherson, APLU President and previous USAID Administrator, Dr. Kurokawa and Dr. Nina Fedoroff, S&T Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State
“Huge advances in S&T policy as it relates to development have been made over the past decade”, said Kurokawa when talking with leading experts from the science policy and development communities about his experience in bringing the subject into the limelight in 2008 at the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD4) and the Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit. “With the recent focus on S&T as a driver for sustainable economic development, we need to encourage “multilayered brain circulation” which requires a scaling up of rapid global information sharing and many layers of collaboration within knowledge networks and between stakeholders. There is a need to engage with senior policy makers on complex multi-sector development challenges where solutions require the rapid deployment of the best global expertise.”
Japan is one of the leaders in developing STI partnership initiatives and has had a global influence on the use of STI for capacity building. Japan’s Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development initiative is the manifestation of Japan’s commitment to African development through STI projects. The objective of this program is to acquire new knowledge using innovative delivery systems leading to addressing global issues across policy, scientific and business networks such as clean energy and environment, natural disaster prevention, infectious disease control and food security.