Developing countries are increasingly recognising the importance of science in developing their economies, and the challenges that entails.
Displaying 1-20 of 28 key documents
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
This document presents a collection of selected papers produced for and discussed at the Second International Conference on Early Warning, in Bonn, Germany, in 2003, and four regional conferences in Africa, Asia/Pacific, America and Europe. The conferences focused on integrating early warning into sustainable development policy. The document notes the failure of scientists, policymakers, local authorities and other relevant actors to use early warning systems efficiently, and makes suggestions for improvement. It highlights challenges, lessons learnt and possible trajectories for further development of early warning systems, and outlines key steps towards strengthening frameworks, finding resources, and designating responsibilities. Key areas for action include improving data collection, ensuring that warning systems focus on people and achieve gender balance, and creating platforms for early warning dialogue.
Source: UNESCO International Hydrological Programme | July 2012
This collection of papers was presented at a conference on linkages between climate change, water, conflict and migration, held in September 2011 at The Hague, in the Netherlands, where the discussion focused on: capacity building and resilience in climate hotspots; conflict prevention; and a legal framework to protect environmental migrants.
The publication includes a conference summary and a background document providing an overview of how climate change, water stress and environmental problems are increasingly seen as major threats to human security. Also included are papers that explore connections between these issues from the perspective of vulnerability; put forward a research and capacity-building agenda for climate-induced migrations; and review current literature, evidence and implications for policymaking on the environment, climate change and human displacement.
Source: Springer-Verlag | June 2011
This peer-reviewed paper examines the factors that motivate people to innovate, with the authors arguing that material rewards, such as capital or patents, make up only one aspect of their motivation. Using grassroots innovation in India as a case-study, the study found that the intrinsic rewards of "getting things done" and satisfaction play just as important a role as extrinsic factors, such as increased income.
The authors developed indicators of motivation by looking at innovation as a process of three stages — idea generation, experimentation and application. They found that intrinsic motivations were particularly important in the early stages, when there are high levels of uncertainty about the innovation. They conclude by outlining implications of their findings for innovation policies, suggesting that use of funding and patents could negatively impact innovators by reducing their desire to share their ideas locally.
This review article, published before the accident at Fukushima, discusses the immediate and long-term prospects of nuclear power development to meet future carbon-free energy needs. It explores opportunities and constraints of generating a nuclear power 'renaissance', and puts forward six possible options for building a sustainable nuclear energy industry.
The authors say that nuclear technology is at a crossroads, and if it is to move forward a two-stage strategy is needed. The first stage must involve developing or extending the life of the world’s existing nuclear plants over the next two years, to improve their efficiency and reliability. In the second stage, after 2030, the industry should look to build new nuclear power stations with large-scale fuel cycles that may include fuel reprocessing. They highlight measures that, if taken now, could make nuclear a viable energy option in the future.
Source: Health Research Policy and Systems
This paper discusses how researchers promote the use of research in policy by examining the practices of 'boundary organisations' that cross the boundary between science and politics to facilitate evidence-based policies and programmes. It identifies key lessons for organisations looking to engage policymakers and decision-makers.
The study focuses on the Regional Network on AIDS, Livelihoods and Food Security (RENEWAL), a regional 'network of networks' active in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia which engages government officials on programmes that could inform policies on food, nutrition and HIV/AIDS. It describes the challenges and successes of efforts to promote research in these areas; challenges include adherence to scientific principles while maintaining close relationships with political authority, and ensuring accountability to the communities within which the research is conducted.
The paper offers recommendations to strengthen efforts to get research into policy, and concludes that the concept of a boundary organisation can help researchers engage people and processes that have decision-making power.
Source: Science | July 2005
This essay by Chunli Bai, executive vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), explains the reasons behind the rapid progress of nanotechnology in China. A key factor, says Bai, has been "extraordinary" government support for the field since the early 1980s, which led to the creation of research institutes and significant grant money. But, cautions Bai, public communication on nanotechnology research, and ongoing monitoring and assessment of nanotechnology risks is needed.
Source: Medical Anthropology Quarterly | March 2010
This article argues that unless the modernisation of traditional medicine in Nepal is treated with care, it could create gender inequalities and the increased social marginalisation of women. Healthcare in Nepal is slowly being modernised to fit more with a model of Western medicine than with traditional Ayurveda. Ayurveda attracts many female practitioners since it is one of the few professions in this patriarchal society in which women are accorded high status.
Source: UNU - Merit | 2009
This paper considers the potential role of 'innovation brokers' — intermediary organisations that help build links in innovation systems and facilitate multi-stakeholder interaction — in developing countries' agriculture. The authors suggest that to encourage organisations to take on this role, policies that encourage institutional learning and experimentation must be put in place. A first step must be mapping the strengths and weaknesses of the existing innovation system.
Source: Renewable Energy | December 2009
This article assesses the practicality and affordability of solar systems for small businesses in remote rural areas. The authors did this by monitoring the use of six 'productive use containers' — shipping containers converted into solar-powered business centres — and surveying local entrepreneurs in a rural part of South Africa. The authors find that the containers offer significant benefits to local communities, including improved communications and higher incomes.
Source: Food Nutrition Bulletin | December 2006
This paper explains how interdisciplinary collaboration in health, nutrition, and agriculture has helped the Millennium Villages Project in 12 African villages meet the Millennium Development Goals.
Global science is increasingly under pressure to become more interdisciplinary. Econutrition is a good example of a cross-sector concept that joins environmental and human health, focusing on crosscutting areas such as agriculture and ecology.
Soil erosion and decreasing biodiversity causes environmental damage that lowers food production. A lack of food results in malnutrition and illness that, in turn, lead to poorer labour productivity and poorer agricultural management.
The Millennium Villages Project emphasises community engagement and leadership, and the case study from the Nyanza Province near Lake Victoria in Kenya illustrates that this can work well in improving nutrition.
One-fifth of adults in the area have HIV and many have malaria and TB. People in the region go hungry for up to seven months a year and are malnourished. The villagers constructed a health clinic and organised teams of community healthcare workers trained in nutrition.
Farmers receive fertilisers and plants if they donate ten per cent of their harvest towards a school lunch programme that concentrates on providing missing nutrients. For example, by adding local crops such as sweet potatoes common vitamin A deficiencies are eliminated. The key to success, say the authors, is to ensure that farmers are supported, especially in producing a variety of crops.
Source: Environmental Research Letters | March 2009
This journal article describes the first climate-based model used to predict outbreaks of dengue fever. Researchers from the University of Miami and the University of Costa Rica used climate data and vegetation indices from Costa Rica to predict disease outbreaks with 83 per cent accuracy.
Globally, there are up to 100 million cases of dengue fever, and its more dangerous form, dengue haemorrhagic fever, every year. The spread of dengue fever is set to rise as the world's climate changes. The importance of this model is that it could be used as the basis for an early warning system to prevent the spread of the disease by warning populations that are at risk.
The indices used in the model include variables such as El Niño Southern Oscillations and sea surface temperature, which affect populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the infection.
Source: Nature Biotechnology | March 2009
This article, written by scientists from Canada, China, Egypt and India, examines the spread of alliances in health biotechnology and the extent of collaboration in this sector between the South and the North.
The authors surveyed 288 firms on South–North health biotech collaborations and use the results to map the extent and geography of partnerships. They analyse the international collaborations of firms in Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India and South Africa and compare them to South–South collaborations.
The authors conclude that developing countries' firms are closely tied to northern health biotech networks and that South–North collaborations are common practice in health biotech. More than half the firms surveyed actively collaborate with countries in the North — compared to just a quarter working with other developing countries. Egypt is the only country where South–South collaborations outnumber South–North ones.
Source: UNESCO | May 2007
These selected proceedings from a regional research seminar in Morocco, hosted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), examine the state of higher education in Arab states. They highlight the impact of globalisation on local systems and discuss the role of funding agencies in supporting them.
The authors tackle a range of issues including the nature and extent of the 'knowledge gap' in Arab societies, current funding patterns and implications for future support, and the effects of international agreements such as the General Agreement on Trade in Services. Munir Bashshur, member of UNESCO's regional scientific committee for Arab states, presents a summary report of the conference, in both English and Arabic.
Source: South African Journal of Science | December 2008
This paper examines the relative costs of research in South Africa and the apparent disparity in researchers' salaries. A 2004–2005 research and development survey provides data on the unit cost of research across higher education institutions (HEIs), science councils and the business sector. Analysis shows that research costs and salaries are highest in the business sector and lowest in HEIs, although the differences are not as wide as expected. Similarly, overhead costs are lowest in HEIs and highest in the business sector.
But the authors emphasise that while HEIs may provide the cheapest research — based on cost per hour — this does not mean that they necessarily provide the cheapest 'cost per deliverable', i.e. value to the client.
The authors call for more regular and detailed data to better understand the researcher labour market. They propose an annual salary survey focused on public sector researchers and a common pricing model for all institutions performing public research.
Source: The Lancet | January 2009
This series of commentaries and papers, published by The Lancet, examines the challenges to achieving a balance between trade and health.
It includes analyses of the WHO and World Trade Organisation (WTO), arguing that they facilitate trade before the health of poor people. Other authors explore issues such as global trade governance, intellectual property rights on life-saving drugs, and how trade practices adversely affect diet and exploit workers.
Richard Smith, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues outline an agenda for action to strengthen the evidence on trade and health links, build capacity within health on trade issues and assert health goals in trade policy. They make specific recommendations for the WHO and WTO, donors, governments, nongovernment organisations and academics.
Source: The Lancet | December 2007
This series of five articles outlines new challenges and unsolved problems since the journal's last series in 2005. The first article ([189kB]) predicts the disease burden and economic losses that developing countries would face from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes. In the 23 countries that the authors incorporated into a model, chronic disease was responsible for 50% of the disease burden in 2005. If no action is taken, they say, about US$84 billion of economic production will be lost from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes alone in these 23 countries between 2006 and 2015. The second article ([105kB]) looks at how to scale-up strategies to fight chronic diseases in developing countries. The authors review evidence to identify which methods are cost-effective and financially feasible, and therefore ready to be scaled-up.
Tobacco control, salt reduction (both of which are detailed in the series' third paper ([177kB])), and a multidrug strategy to treat individuals with high-risk cardiovascular disease (see an in-depth look in paper four ([220kB])) are prime candidates for scaling-up. What effect improving health systems has on the level of chronic diseases should be properly evaluated, say the authors. For some health interventions, such as preventing or controlling diabetes, there is little cost-effectiveness data for low or middle-income countries, but their scientific effectiveness is so compelling that countries should consider how best to incorporate them. The final paper ([92kB]) is a call to action to incorporate existing interventions into healthcare programmes, which in 2005 was costed at US$5.8 billion.
Source: International Journal for Equity in Health | January 2005
The WHO has provided its own estimates of how non-communicable diseases are set to rise in developing countries. These authors pool data from national registries and international databases to compare data on the differing burden from individual diseases. They outline the risk factors associated with the diseases.
The main three killers are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. The paper ranks different types of cancer by how many people in developing countries they kill (lung and breast cancer are the deadliest) and also ranks diabetes prevalence by country (India, followed by China, has the highest prevalence).
To tackle these diseases, say the authors, people need to look closely at the risk factors in their life – eating healthily and exercising can do much to reduce the chances of getting one of these diseases.
Source: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences | 2002
This document presents the proceedings of a conference at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in December 2001. The conference papers deal with themes relating to the role of scientific research in the development of Northern countries and the need for North–South research cooperation. They document the experiences of research cooperation involving, among others, India, South Africa and a number of East African countries. Several papers deal with innovation and scientific cooperation, with case studies.
Source: Nature | November 2006
Good prescribing practices are important in tackling antibiotic resistance, and diagnostics are key to ensuring good practice. Knowing who not to treat is as important as knowing who to treat. The article reports on analyses by the Global Health Diagnostic Forum of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assess how many lives could be saved by better diagnostics for six major illnesses, including malaria and tuberculosis. The researchers assessed the technical issues associated with implementing the diagnostic tests in developing countries for three classes of laboratory infrastructure — none, minimal, or moderate to advanced.
They found that for acute lower respiratory infections, syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and TB, outcomes could be much improved if tests were sent to sites with minimal or no laboratory infrastructure. In these types of settings, the practicality of obtaining a specimen is important. For example, obtaining a blood sample correctly to test HIV viral load is almost impossible where there are no laboratory facilities. Using sputum to test for TB has similar issues because of the impracticability of the sample medium. Thus, new biomarkers might be needed to test for diseases with specimens different from those currently used. Combination tests that look for a range of infectious organisms in one sample would be useful in resource-poor settings.
The researchers also highlight the importance of taking into account cultural and social sensitivities when designing interventions – blood sampling is not always accepted in some regions of the world, for example.
Source: UN Development Programme and TIMSS | 2003
This study outlines the findings of the 2003 TIMSS for the participating Arab countries, namely, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia. TIMSS is a study of cross-national achievement in mathematics and sciences for fourth and eighth grade students since 1959.
The report provides useful data on each of the participating countries, and compares Arab and international average scores. It includes data on average achievement scores, resource availability, access to computers, the number of curriculum hours designated, teacher characteristics and credentials, and classroom characteristics and instruction quality.
The study finds that while most Arab countries lag behind the international averages, a few have made progress since the last exercise in 1999. It also highlights interesting aspects of this difference and suggests measures to improve student achievement. The document is especially useful for educators in Muslim countries seeking credible data and analysis on student achievement.