At the international level, countries commit to support the efforts of developing countries to strengthen their scientific, technological and innovative capacity.
National efforts to strengthen science, technology and innovation need to be complemented by international support. Official development assistance for scientific, technological and innovative capacity has increased significantly in recent years, amounting to $1.8 billion in 2016. However, much of the increase in recent years has not benefited the poorest and most vulnerable countries, which have seen STI-specific aid flows stagnate in recent years.
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National efforts to strengthen science, technology and innovation need to be complemented by international support. Effective international development cooperation is crucial in supporting science, technology innovation and capacity building to address global developmental challenges. Official development assistance for scientific, technological and innovative capacity has increased significantly in recent years, amounting to $1.8 billion in 2016. However, much of the increase in recent years has not benefited the poorest and most vulnerable countries, which have seen STI-specific aid flows stagnate in recent years.
The growing diversity of modalities, instruments and actors engaged in international development cooperation, and innovative partnerships and initiatives, makes it a promising terrain for developing and developed countries alike to address new and increasingly urgent challenges.
South-South cooperation on STI is an important complement to North-South cooperation. Several developing countries have built up significant STI knowledge, resources and capacity that are sometimes more affordable and appropriate for recipient countries. Through the Development Cooperation Forum, Southern partners have called on South-South and triangular cooperation to take an even more prominent role in unleashing the transformative power of STI. The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have intensified STI cooperation under the BRICS STI Framework Programme.
According to the GAVI 2015 Progress Report, by the end of 2015, GAVI had secured full funding for the 2011–2015 strategic period, with all pledges successfully delivered. Cumulative funds received from donor governments, philanthropic organizations and the private sector since the inception of GAVI in 2000 totalled $12 billion. As a result, GAVI exceeded its mission goals (reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015; avert more than 3.9 million future deaths between 2011 and 2015; immunise an additional 243 million children between 2011–2015) for the 2011–2015 period.
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A pledging conference in January 2015 resulted in an extension of the donor base and commitments of more than $7.5 billion in additional funding for the 2016–2020 strategic period.
Also, in November 2015, the United Nations Secretary-General announced the appointment of a High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines . UNDP served as the Secretariat for the High-Level Panel in partnership with the UNAIDS Secretariat. Following a process of extensive consultation involving UN Member States, civil society, the private sector and members of academia, the Panel released its report in September 2016. The report has a simple and powerful message: no one should suffer because he or she can’t afford medicines, diagnostics or vaccines. Key recommendations include:
- Governments must urgently increase their current levels of investment in health technology innovation to meet unmet needs and enter negotiations for a binding research & development treaty that delinks the costs of innovation from the end prices of health technologies in order to address unmet health needs;
- There must be much greater transparency to ensure that the costs of research and development, production, marketing, and distribution, as well as the end prices of health technologies are clear to consumers and governments;
- The Secretary-General should establish an independent review body tasked with assessing progress on health technology innovation and access and call for a High-Level meeting on Health Technology Innovation and Access to be convened by 2018.
The report was welcomed by the Secretary-General, several UN Member States and civil society groups and was included in a resolution of the UNGA in December 2016 as well as a 2016 resolution of the Human Rights Council. The Report’s recommendations are being further discussed at the Human Rights Council, WHO, WTO and WIPO.
Agricultural biotechnology can improve productivity and natural-resource-use efficiency, with significant benefits to small farmers. Biological nanotechnology applications are already starting to have an impact on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. Biotechnology and synthetic biology have enormous potential for addressing the environment, climate crisis and loss of biodiversity through more advanced biofuels and “cleaner” agriculture—that is, agricultural processes with less input of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and/or a reduction of carbon dioxide through artificial leaf technology.
Nuclear and isotopic techniques to track and quantify carbon, water and nutrient movement and dynamics are also used to increase agricultural productivity, resilience, and the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. In Sudan, the application of climate-smart agriculture has allowed hundreds of women, many of whom are refugees or internally displaced, to start small-scale farms and home gardens in extremely arid areas.
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The productive capacity of agriculture depends on investments from public and private, domestic and foreign sources. Recent trends in government spending have not been favourable. The agriculture orientation index (AOI) — the agriculture share of government expenditures divided by the agriculture share of GDP —fell from 0.37 to 0.33 between 2001 and 2013 in developing countries. The decline was interrupted only during the food price crisis of 2006 to 2008, when governments boosted agricultural spending.
ODA disbursements for agriculture have been relatively stable since 2010. While there has been a very marginal increase from 2010 to 2014 for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS experienced a decline. Overall, since the late 1990s, aid to agriculture in developing countries has languished at around 8 per cent of the total. This is down from a high of 20 per cent in the mid-1980s, when donor priorities shifted to a stronger focus on improving governance, building social capital and bolstering fragile States.
ODA disbursements for medical research and basic health sectors have increased overall since 2000, especially to LDCs and LLDCs. This reflects the strong focus donors set on health for the implementation of the MDGs. However, allocations to SIDS have declined in the last years.