Access to Scientific Knowledge for Sustainable Development: Options for Developing Countries

The term ‘sustainable development’ was first coined by the Brundtland Commission, convened by the United Nations in 1983 [1]. It denotes ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Although defined originally to meet the concerns relating to environmental damage, it has since been used to encompass the broader needs of society through economic, social and political sustainability.

Over the past few decades, it has been widely recognised that sustainable economic growth cannot take place without a strong science base. In 1982, a UNESCO report stated that ‘assimilation of scientific and technological information is an essential precondition for progress in developing countries’. Again, a few years ago, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs instituted a project known as SIST (Système d’Information Scientifique et Technique) the major goal of which is to facilitate sustainable development through support of regional research along the priorities defined by the countries themselves (health, renewable resources, agronomy, human and social sciences, Information and Communication Technology) [2]. Other authoritative organisations such as the InterAcademy Council [3], the Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India [4] and many international individuals affirm this position [5][6].

How, then, can low-income countries strengthen their research capacity?


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