UNCTAD, Okahama University Join Forces To Nurture Young Female Scientific Talent In Developing Countries

Buoyed by the fact that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) are key drivers of economic and social development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Okayama University in Japan, are currently have joining forces to foster and nurture young scientific talent in developing countries.

They are also coming together to offer joint research and training courses to young female scientists from developing countries and opportunities for doctoral studies to young scientists from those countries.

This is coming as the experience of successful developing countries shows that STI policies that are well integrated into national development strategies and combined with institutional and organisational changes can help raise productivity, improve firm competitiveness, support faster growth and create jobs. 

To achieve this, policies need to address the specific features of innovation in developing countries.

Examples include the weight of traditional sectors in the economy, the importance of incremental and adaptative innovation, the need to identify, acquire and adapt foreign innovations, the particular role of foreign direct investment, the limited access of firms to skilled workers and to capital, weak technology-related infrastructure and inadequate intellectual property rights regimes.

UNCTAD’s work in STI policy for development focuses on supporting the integration of STI in national development strategies and building-up STI policy-making capacity in developing countries.

Activities are implemented in collaboration with other United Nations entities, multilateral development institutions and national counterparts.

The programme of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Reviews is its main instrument in this area, which is complemented with other capacity-building programmes.

They will implement the joint work under a path-breaking memorandum of understanding they signed on 9 January.

During the signing ceremony, UNCTAD’s Director of Technology and Logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne, said “fostering and nurturing young scientific talent in developing countries is critical to helping them leverage science, technology and innovation to achieve the sustainable development goals.”

Strengthening the technological capabilities of developing countries is paramount for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ms. Sirimanne said the agreement with Okayama University will strengthen UNCTAD’s ability to support developing countries in this effort.

President of Okayama University, Hirofumi Makino, said “we’re pleased with our cooperation towards human capital development in science, technology and innovation to achieve the global goals. We’ll continue to contribute to the improvement of the wellbeing of all.”

Meanwhile, the first phase of the joint initiative which is set to run from August 2020, will offer five young female scientists from developing countries the opportunity to participate in joint research and training programmes in Japan.

The beneficiaries will be selected through an application process that Okayama University and UNCTAD will manage in collaboration with countries’ permanent missions in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • Reporting by Akanimo Sampson