[MEXICO CITY] Leading scientists of the developing world have called on their governments to increase investment in science and technology to at least one per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
In a statement marking the end of the 25th anniversary celebration of TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world, the scientists also urged governments to adopt science and technology in public policies, take steps to reduce the brain drain, and encourage private investment in research and development.
The 'Tlalpan Statement' was approved by about 300 scientists from the developing world who attended the meeting held in Tlalpan, Mexico City, last week (10–13 November). At the closing ceremony, TWAS president Jacob Palis said that the meeting had been "one of the best ones, in which the best scientists of the developing world participated".
Mohamed Hassan, executive secretary of TWAS, announced a strategic plan for 2010–2015 as well as the creation of a multidisciplinary network in critical areas such as renewable energy, water, biodiversity, and medicinal plants.
TWAS also committed to boosting the number of women scientists, expanding the number of research units in Latin American countries, increasing support to science academies in the poorest countries and supporting young scientists in developing countries.
The statement was presented at the ceremony by Rosaura Ruiz, president of the Mexican Academy of Sciences. It includes a call to governments, universities, research centres and industry to collaborate on producing and promoting scientific knowledge that could solve fundamental problems in areas such as health, climate change, energy, social development, security and sustainability.
The document emphasises that science and technology must be recognised as key contributors to democracy and to economic and social equity. It also highlights the importance of fostering cooperation between scientists in the South and southern scientists who are now working in the North.
South-South cooperation was a key issue during the TWAS meeting sessions. Developing countries need new strategies for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in fields such as climate change, biodiversity, education, biotechnology and telecommunications, said Mosibudi Mangena, science and technology minister of South Africa.
Mangena suggested that South-South strategies could be similar to those adopted by the European Commission — focusing on big projects in fields that would benefit developing countries, and providing budgets for scientific infrastructure such as new technological and multinational institutions.