The critical development challenges facing the Bank and its clients include such diverse issues as food security, clean energy, adaptation to climate change, improving health systems, providing water and sanitation services, generating wealth, and reducing absolute poverty. There can be no sustainable solutions to any of these problems if countries do not build the capacity to find and develop appropriate technologies, modify them for local use, and deploy them to local villages and enterprises, small as well as large. Experience suggests that ignorance-based economy is not an effective way to tackle these problems. Experience also suggests that building appropriate science and engineering capacity tailored to each country’s priority social and economic development objectives is the only way to generate sustainable solutions to these problems. STI capacity building efforts should focus on “pro-poor” innovations. These innovations can be characterized as ultra low cost and disruptive. Several development partners have proved that these innovations are more likely through working with local communities and local scientists.
The 2009 STI Global Forum provided a platform for the generation of new ideas on STI capacity building partnerships for sustainable development. The Forum explored four specific, concrete dimensions of STI capacity building and asked how well-designed, innovative partnerships can help developing countries build STI capacity around each of these dimensions. The four dimensions discussed at the Forum were:
- Pro-Poor Innovation for Inclusive Social and Economic Development,
- Fostering Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship: Converting STI Capacity into Business Opportunities,
- Training the Next Generation of Knowledge Workers for the Global and Local Knowledge Economy, and
- New Mechanisms for Financing and Implementing STI Partnership Initiatives.
The explicit goal of this Global Forum was not merely to generate and discuss interesting, viable STI capacity building partnership ideas but to begin developing an Action Plan for the World Bank. Some of the most prominent suggestions included designing inclusive innovation centers and a prototype Inclusive Innovation Development Program, developing regional partnerships, establishing a Global Science Corps to build human capital in developing countries, establishing a technology transfer facility through institutions that can bring to market the required technologies for solving local issues, and an entrepreneur-in residence program to bring the entrepreneurial and business spirit and tools to the developing world.