A new scientific landscape – and countries that don’t fit in

Romain Murenzi: "Progress uneven"

Although the world is witnessing the emergence of new scientific powerhouses such as Brazil, China and India, the least developed countries are being left behind, the World Science Forum in Budapest, Hungary heard today (17 November).

Progress  (or otherwise) that emerging countries have made, and the rise in global collaborations in science and technology (S&T) have been the main threads of the talks at the forum so far.

Romain Murenzi, executive director of TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world said: “The progress that has been made is undeniable. But it has also been uneven”.

We must remember that our goal should be to build scientific capacity in all countries, he said, “in ways that enable science to become a global enterprise in the truest sense of the word”.

“Just six countries in the developing world account for more than three quarters of the scientific articles published in peer-reviewed international journals authored by scientists from the South,” he said.

He told SciDev.Net on the sidelines of the forum that some 2 billion people living in 81 developing countries that are scientifically lagging are still not seeing the benefits of growing global science.

These countries, mainly from Africa and the Islamic region, have been left behind in this new landscape, he said.

“The North-South gap in scientific capacity is narrowing on a global scale. But the country-to-country gap remains as wide as ever. A bi-polar world in science has become a multi-polar world in science. The age-old problem of yawning disparities between scientifically advanced and scientifically lagging countries persists – only in a different configuration.”

He sees part of the solution in more scientific collaboration and exchange between emerging countries and least developed ones. Students from lagging countries can now get the same quality science education in the emerging countries of the South as they can in the North but for less money. And those emerging countries benefit from the original points of view these students bring with them and the knowledge they create that stays in the host country.

 Mićo Tatalović, deputy news editor, SciDev.Net

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