Towards a Regional Science Engineering Technology Innovation (SETI) Support Mechanism for Asia and the Pacific

UNESCO Jakarta as the Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific organized an online Regional Experts Dialogue on SETI Priorities and Implementation Means on 1 September 2020. This dialogue was a follow-up to several regional and global consultations that have been taking place since March 2020 and the 209 Executive Board (29 June – 10 July 2020). The dialogue aimed at identifying key collaboration areas, support mechanisms, and develop the UNESCO regional SETI strategy, reaching a regional consensus on the role of SETI in delivering SDGs. Eleven eminent experts were invited to deliver their views and insights on regional SETI aspects of the six focus areas of UNESCO Science Policy Capacity Building programme:

  1. Science policy including open science and STEPAN (Science and Technology Policy Asian Network): Prof. Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Atri Advisory, Malaysia and Dr Mahesha Nadugala, National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, stressed the importance to bring science and policy interface at the right decision-making level and the need to revive science networks, such as STEPAN, to close gaps between member states, involving existing networks and interacting with national governments.
  2. Capacity Building Including Capacities in Engineering:  Dr Yasuyuki Aoshima, JABEE (Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education), Prof. Wu Qidi, UNESCO International Engineering Education Centre Beijing and Prof. Charlie Than, Myanmar Engineering Council, emphasised the role of engineering in providing solutions for SDGs and how accreditation can improve education quality.
  3. Women in Science: Madam Shahrizad Dahlan, the International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) under the auspices of UNESCO, and Dr Sidrotun Naim, Indonesian International fellow of UNESCO L’Oreal for Women in Science, strengthened the necessity to continue promoting women scientists with more social research and actions.
  4. Scientific and Ethical Dimensions of AI : Prof. Zabta Shinwari, COMEST and Council Member of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, and Prof. Manzoor Hussain Soomro, Economic Cooperation Organization Science Foundation (ECOSF), reflected  the myths and facts about AI where ethical considerations and standards have an essential role in national and international strategies.
  5. SDG ready technologies and innovations: Dr Michiko Enomoto, Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology, UNESCAP, stated the importance of existing technologies and innovations, including pro-poor inclusive, frugal, and grassroots innovations, and invited collaborations in Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APCTT) and UNESCO Jakarta current initiatives in developing the catalogue of SDG ready technologies for the Asia Pacific.
  6. Science Communication and Citizen Science: Prof. Graham Durant, Questacon -Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre, exposed the current change in the relationship between science and society. The changes required science communication to play a greater role in fostering the emergence of citizen science, especially with youth, as the answers to the challenges in building STEM futures and achieve the SDGs.

More than 45 participants participated in the dialogue and shared their comments and questions to the experts. The participants were representing the Universities, UNESCO Science family (category 1 and 2 centres, and Chairs), Filed Offices, as well as Science and Research Centres in  Asia Pacific region.

Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Jakarta, moderated the discussion and concluded in his remarks that a regional SETI mechanism will be revitalised with the constitution of a regional advisory committee. Furthermore, a strategy to link the regional and national level SETI stakeholders through UNESCO national commission. A science-policy interface should be brought at appropriate levels, including cooperation with regional science institutions and UN agencies.  Mobilising youth, women, and civil society must be stressed so that no one is left behind. And finally, science is a basic human right and should play a significant role in attaining the SDGs.

This experts consultation meeting contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, especially on Goal 9 (aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation).

For more information, please contact: Programme Specialist for Science Policy and Capacity Building, UNESCO Jakarta, Ms Ai Sugiura ( sends e-mail))