Brazil publishes science plan as Rousseff replaces Lula

Dilma Rousseff is expected to keep the progressive science policy of Lula da Silva Copyright: Flickr/Isaac Ribeiro

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[RIO DE JANEIRO] The Brazilian government will release science policy proposals for the next decade for public consultation within a few days.

The Ministry of Science and Technology’s recommendations are expected to be unchanged under the mandate of Dilma Rousseff, elected last Sunday (31 October) as the successor to science-friendly president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

During her campaign, Rousseff said she would maintain Lula’s strong support for science, turning Brazil into a "scientific powerhouse".

The policy recommendations stem from discussions at the 4th National Conference of Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I), held in Brasilia earlier this year (6−8 May) and attended by 4,000 people from the scientific community, educational sectors, government, private sector and industry.

Luiz Davidovich, coordinator of the conference and professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said the document contains guidance on an ST&I policy "from the perspective of sustainable environmental, social and economic development".

"The document brings a broad set of proposals: approaching innovation in society and in companies, the development of science, the need for a revolution in education, the sustainable development of the national biomes, and strategic and social technologies," he told SciDev.Net.

One of the recommendations is to consider innovation as a strategic approach, both in the scientific community and the government, and to increase the role private companies play in innovation. Currently innovation is mostly driven by the government. 

The document also argues that investment in science should increase from one per cent of GDP to 2.5 per cent by the year 2020.

A suggested "brain gain" programme would target talented young scientists to return from overseas and would aim to attract foreign scientists to live and work in Brazil.  

The document says that mechanisms for training and retaining scientists in regions that currently lack a solid infrastructure in science, such as some states in the northeast and the north of the country, should be pursued.  

There are also proposals to set up a national programme for science popularisation for 2011–2022, including a budget and mechanisms for training.