Much has changed in the fortunes of developing countries since last year’s TWAS meeting, the organisation’s president Jacob Palis said at the inaugural session before lunch today.
The financial crisis may have almost brought the world economy to a standstill—but it was the economic resilience of the developing country’s biggest economies that kept it going, he said.
Next year’s football World Cup in South Africa, a black man in the White House and Brazil winning the 2016 Olympics are all signs that the tide has turned for developing countries, he added.
Palis’ point was that one of the drivers of this change in developing countries’ fortunes is investments in science and technology.
But the progress has been uneven, and now it is up to the emerging economies—China, India, South Africa—to step up to the plate and share their successes with their neighbours, he concluded.
During the conference, South Africa and Brazil will meet for bilateral talks on how to boost science cooperation. There will be plenty of best practice examples for how to boost such links further.
But so far, the main voices in Durban have come from the powerful emerging economies, or from the developed world. Hopefully we will also be hearing from those who are a bit further from achieving a “knowledge revolution”.
The least developed countries will have access to help, but they also need to help themselves said South African science minister Naledi Pandor.
She voiced concern that four years after Africa adopted a common science plan, many countries either don’t have science ministries, or have not outlined a role for S&T in their national development plans.
In “recession watch” news, the German ambassador to South Africa said developed countries will not cut funding for developing country science.
Tell that to the Swedish development agency SIDA which may cut its research cooperation budget by 20% in 2010!
Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net