UNESCO supports Uzbekistan’s efforts to further enhance STI
Over the last couple of years Uzbekistan has taken some bold steps to promote STI areas that are perceived as the foundation for the country’s future development. Under the leadership of H.E. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Ministry of Innovation Development, the National Council on Science and Technology, as well as brand new innovation centres, scientific clusters and technology parks were established in the country. With the state support, the number of research institutions of the national Academy of Sciences has grown from 20 to 35 and the funding for science has quadrupled.
Promoting Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) has become a key policy objective in developed and developing economies, as governments around the world have recognized STI to be a driving force for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As a pillar of UNESCO’s mandate, the development of science, technology and innovation is an important focus of bilateral cooperation with Uzbekistan. This collaboration expanded significantly in several fields of UNESCO’s competence following the official visit of Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, to Uzbekistan in August 2019, when she held some productive high-level meetings with the leadership of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
One of the key elements of cooperation has been UNESCO’s technical assistance through a project on strengthening inclusive science, technology and innovation (STI) systems in Uzbekistan that was launched in 2019 with the financial support of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). This project, implemented with the Ministry of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNESCO, aims at strengthening the capacity of Uzbekistan on STI policymaking through reviewing the national system to identify strategic investments in STI that tackle major development, social-economic and environmental challenges, as well as formulating policy options and governance recommendations.
The review further serves as an evidence base for the next stages of cooperation – namely, developing a national STI policy and key policy instruments (Action Plan) for its implementation.
The publication of “Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Uzbekistan” (available in English, Russian and Uzbek) in October 2020 was an important milestone in this project. It is the 10th volume of a series of country profiles produced by UNESCO’s Global Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (GO-SPIN), and it is the first of its kind for Central Asia. The Publication presents an analysis of key characteristics of Uzbekistan’s STI system and includes an overview of STI development needs and opportunities, analysis of strengths and weaknesses, and recommendations formulated for the Government of Uzbekistan. By analyzing the national STI system, the report serves as a reference in providing evidence base for the development of the national STI policy as the next step of the project.
In the framework of this project, several capacity building activities and national workshops on STI policy were held with the participation of the Ministry of Innovative Development and other national stakeholders engaged in these areas. Moreover, a national survey of the STI potential of eight regions – Andijan, Bukhara, Ferghana, Jizzak, Kashkadarya, Khorezm, Namangan and Navoi – has been conducted. The survey collected more in-depth information on the state of the STI system in the country.
Based on the information collected through these studies, bilateral activities and exchanges, UNESCO has developed the 1st draft of Uzbekistan’s STI Policy. The document should serve as the foundation for achieving the STI objectives in Uzbekistan over the next ten years and an important tool to facilitate a successful recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.