Scientific and technological advances have transformed the world and impacted almost every aspect of life in it. The frontiers of human knowledge continue to widen, limited only by resource constraints, financial and behavioral. The impact of newly discovered knowledge has been profound and often game changing, within countries and also on the international scene, giving rise to challenges and opportunities in diverse areas ranging across sustainable development, economic competitiveness, peace and security, management of global resources, and so forth. Policy makers and the public are, thus, constantly challenged by new scientific advances that spread rapidly across the globe with impacts that are not always foreseen.
In modern time, the role of Science and Technology in socio-economic development is considered to be crucial. Thus, the formulation of science and technological policies and strategies are among the primary needs and responsibilities of governments of all countries, including the ones in the South.
These policies are of direct relevance to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular 11 of the 17 goals. In pursuance of these policies, developing countries are facing both internal and external challenges, notably, insufficiency in the local development of science through most of the prevailing education systems, and hurdles in transfers of knowledge from other countries, both developed and developing; lack of credible information on the resources and capacities of developing countries capable of assisting other developing countries in their needs. And, wherever this information is available it is often met with lingering attitudinal barrier and doubts over the standards of institutions demonstrating those capacities vis-à-vis what developed countries’ institutions provide.
To counter these barriers, many developing countries are endeavoring to adopt measures, both nationally and in cooperation with other developing countries to gain access to knowledge through academic activity, research and joint programmes. Two examples of cooperation among developing countries in these spheres are the establishment of the “Centre for Science & Technology of the Non-Aligned and other Developing Countries (NAM S&T Centre)” in New Delhi at the India Habitat Centre in 1989; and the “Commission on Science & Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)”, with headquarters in Islamabad, Pakistan, in 1994. A third example is of Mustafa Science & Technology Foundation (MSTF) of Iran, with prizes for excellence in science and technologies awarded to scientists, scholars and promising students from developing countries, and their diaspora in developed countries. Presentations are expected to be made at this side event on these and some other similar endeavors to promote the enhancement of science and technologies and gain collective self-reliance among developing countries in these domains.
The side event is being jointly sponsored by UNOSSC, COMSATS, MSTF, and the Office of the High Representative for LDC, LLDC and SIDS. It would focus on the potentials and challenges being faced by developing countries in promoting science & technology through education, research and related activities at the national, regional and global levels through the use of South-South and Triangular Cooperation modalities in the effort. The debate would cover the impact of these efforts in various socio-economic sectors, including education, healthcare, agriculture, infra-structure, industries, climate change measures and so forth.
The conclusion of a Memorandum-of-Understanding (MoU) between UNOSSC and COMSATS on Cooperation, signifying their common resolve to collaborate in promoting cooperation among the 26 member states of COMSATS in addressing their needs for science-led sustainable development through South-South and Triangular Cooperation measures, would be among the highlights of the side event. Another would be the launch of the publication “South-South-in-Action, Human Welfare and Peace through Development of Science & Technology” jointly produced by UNOSSC and MSTF.