Last post of today I think…
This conference has been dominated by voices from a small number of countries. As they are the host, it is not strange that South Africa has taken a prominent role. But many talks have also come from India and Brazil.
In a way, it’s not surprising. There are more scientists in South Africa and India than in, say, Mali. But it is putting a slightly weird spin on things.
For example, we are not hearing enough from the poorest of the poor—except in the third person when delegates from the countries above talk about wanting to boost South-South cooperation.
And that they do, constantly, which is really encouraging. The financial crisis has opened up avenues for them to rally and try to plug the gaps left by the worse affected developed countries, who foot much of the bill for science and technology support for the poorest countries.
The governments of the ‘big three’ are also pushing strongly for collaboration with each other. The IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) partnership is still evolving, but speaking to South Africa’s science minister it seems like it is going well. Each party has put $1 million into a central pot for 2009/10.
Perhaps one of the outcomes of this conference should be some sort of gentlemen’s agreement between the better off developing countries and those who are really struggling for closer cooperation, perhaps plugging some of the gaps left open by Western donors cutting funding due to the financial crisis?
Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net