Organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union
Tokyo, 13-17 June 1994

The following Final Document of the Conference was adopted unanimously at the closing session of the Conference on 17 June 1994. The document comprises two parts:

  • The TOKYO COMPACT, which is a summary of the Conference conclusions and contains the key elements of the Conference recommendations;
  • The OVERALL FINDINGS, which provide the recommendations in their full context and reflect the wealth of points agreed upon by delegates during the debate.

New Directions for Science and Technology

Parliaments call for science and technology to be utilized for sustainable development, and not for destruction

The Asia and Pacific region has proud historical achievements in science and technology, though for a long period, the region experienced the neglect of science and technology and the lack of an environment conducive to scientific and technological creativity. In recent decades, there is once again a resurgence of science and technology in many countries, though not in all. Many countries have built up major scientific and technological capacities. The great diversity in such capacities among countries in the region in itself should stimulate the opportunities for co-operation. It is clearly vital that science and technology, and co-operative endeavours among countries in the region, should be focused primarily on the pursuit of sustainable patterns of development, ensuring both growth and equity and stimulating efficient environmental management. Scientific and technological partnerships both within the region and at a global level need to be stimulated in the context of an imaginative and yet practical regional vision in utilizing science and technology for regional sustainable development.

Parliaments have the responsibility to encourage the use of science and technology for sustainable development, instead of for war and destruction of the environment.

The rationale for wider application of science and technology lies in targeting provision of basic needs

  • The Asia and Pacific region has half the world's population. It is also the region which contains the majority of the world's population below the poverty threshold. It is clearly recognized that there are important linkages between poverty, population growth and pressures on the environment. Poverty is indeed one of the great sources of environmental degradation. Any practical strategy for sustainable development demands that basic needs of the population be met as a matter of the highest priority. For basic needs to be met in an enduring fashion, it is imperative that such needs are provided not through redistributive mechanisms of government, but through institutional changes that ensure the ownership of assets and command of knowledge by the poor. Along with such institutional change, parliamentarians agreed that science and technology be focused on improving the agriculture and food sector, in developing appropriate technologies for industry, in ensuring energy supplies and health care, and in providing sound environmental management.
  • In agriculture, research should be focused on holistic systems of farming, improving smallholder cropping patterns, and on staple and subsidiary crops unique to the region.
  • In industry, more research provision is required for development of relevant technologies, especially for rural industries, and to innovative, cost-effective improvement of existing technologies.
  • Research into more efficient commercial energy systems should be paralleled by application of science and technology to the development of renewable energy systems, based on solar, biomass and wind technologies, as well as the better use of cleaner coal technologies. Solar-based energy systems in particular should be developed as a global undertaking.
  • In health care, science and technology should be applied to upgrading traditional and indigenous herbal systems of medicine.
  • In the field of environment, priority should be attached to conserving the valuable tropical ecology of the region and associated biodiversity, in ecologically sustainable management of agriculture and fishing, controlling and reversing industrial pollution, apart from following up on Agenda 21 of UNCED. The IPU environmental programme should be complemented by an Asia and Pacific regional "Green Network".
  • New technologies relating to new materials, renewable energy, ocean technology, electronics technology, and more especially biotechnology and information technology have to be utilized in the context of sustainable development and basic needs. In biotechnology, regional co-operative efforts should be pursued, and in information technology, apart from its use for meeting basic needs, facilities such as INTERNET could be utilized by parliamentarians in the region for improved communication and exchange of experience.

The quality of human capital will gain from greater attention to scientific and technological education, formally and informally. Women's role highlighted

Representatives of the region's parliaments viewed human capital as the most valuable resource a country can possess for its advancement. Scientific and technological education constitutes a critical part of such human capital. Many actions are required to build up this human capital, through formal and informal systems of education, not only in schools and in universities, but also at the work place, in the home and in the general community. Involvement of women in all areas of scientific and technological activity needs to be emphasized.

  • Disciplines relating to science and technology should have a higher profile in primary and secondary education. The quality of teaching requires improvement and facilities such colleges for training teachers, and school laboratories and equipment are crucial. Predictable flows of resources for these purposes are vital.
  • Technical schools and polytechnics should be given a more central role in the educational system. Apprenticeship systems linked to technical training need to be encouraged, and governments and private sector enterprises should work in tandem, encouraging specially closer technological interactions between technical schools of a specialized nature and small and medium sized enterprises.
  • Scientific and technological research and teaching capacities of universities must be built up, and the cream of scientists and technologists should engage in teaching and research. Appropriate systems of remuneration and research facilities and arrangements for scientific exchange should be further improved.
  • Scientists and technologists need to be assured of a central role in decision-making in government and in enterprises, creating an environment conducive to stemming the brain drain of scientists and technologists, and also encouraging their appropriate employment.

Greater interaction between industry and higher education enables major technological gains and more resources for higher education

Business and industry are critical in enabling science and technology to be applied in the pursuit of sustainable development. Parliamentarians called for business and industry, universities and polytechnics to create a greater synergy by expanding their connections.

  • Resources allocated by industry and business to research and development need to be increased, and heavy reliance on government-funded research should be reduced. This should be based on a greater appreciation of the contribution of science and technology to increased productivity and profitability.
  • Indigenous capacities for selecting, absorbing and integrating the major technological transfers effected through direct foreign investment should be improved, enabling building up of endogenous scientific and technological strength.
  • Linkages between business and industry on the one hand, and higher education research institutions on the other, need to be expanded, focusing on practical product development.

Government policy is critical to effective utilization of science and technology

Parliamentarians agreed that Governments in the region have the responsibility to develop strategies for science and technology, within the framework of overall sustainable development policies and machinery for implementation and evaluation. Governments should determine priorities, secure adequate funding, negotiate in multilateral forums, establishing bilateral co-operative arrangements, create an enabling environment for the private sector and the community, and establish its own scientific and technological research facilities.

  • Governments should review current arrangements for private funding of science and technology and establish required incentive systems to generate more resources.
  • Current funding arrangements for public sector research need improvement, and a clear definition of priorities is required, apart from increasing resources for science and technology on a predictable long-term basis.
  • Scientific and technological issues should be placed at the centre of government decision-making processes, especially through ensuring that scientific and technical institutions have a key role within the machinery of government and through enabling scientists and technologists to be more prominent at higher levels of decision-making.

Countries in the region could make large gains through scientific and technological co­operation

Accumulating scientific and technological capacities, the diversity of levels of development, specially in science and technology, the growing economic interdependence within the region, are all factors which create significant opportunities for scientific and technological co-operation at the regional level.

  • Countries can benefit in learning from each other's experience in scientific and technological development. Regional arrangements should be established, utilizing the services of regional institutions, to analyse and examine the policy experience with regard to science and technology in the region.
  • Co-operative research efforts should be undertaken on key issues of common concern, especially through the establishment of joint inter-country arrangements for scientific and technological collaboration.
  • Interaction between and among research institutions and researchers in the region should be promoted, and there should be greater flows of information on research activities. Networking arrangements, exchange of personnel through visiting fellowships and attachments, arrangements for training, are all mechanisms to be used in this context.
  • Development assistance programmes of countries in the region should be utilized for financing technical co-operation arrangements in science and technology at the regional level.
  • Regional bodies, especially agencies such as ESCAP, should devote more effort to issues of scientific and technological co-operation and might consider the subject as a major special theme for an annual conference. Intra-regional training arrangements require further strengthening.

Governments of the region need to be more articulate in shaping global agendas in science and technology

The global environment for application of science and technology for sustainable development in the region requires significant improvement. Parliamentarians called upon Governments of countries in the region and developed countries to act in concert towards this end.

  • Developed countries through their development assistance budgets could focus more on science and technology and on building up scientific and technological partnerships in the region.
  • Governments in the region should be more actively involved in shaping the global agendas for science and technology, reflecting the special and unique research demands of the region.

National and regional follow-up

Delegations undertook to follow up on their proposals, with their national parliaments and governments, in regional forums, and in the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

  • Parliaments without mechanisms to deal with science and technology questions should consider creating such bodies.
  • IPU should consider establishing a working group on Inter-Parliamentary communications with a view to setting up an "Inter-Parliamentary Network", using technology such as INTERNET.
  • Recommendations on regional inter-parliamentary mechanisms and networks should be pursued through the Asia and Pacific Group of IPU.

Inventing the Future: Science and Technology for Sustainable Development

A Regional Vision

1. The Asia and Pacific region can proudly claim long and distinguished connections with major achievements in science and technology. Some countries in the region were the pioneers in several fields of science and technology centuries ago. The region gave the world scientific discoveries in the fields of mathematics and astronomy, as well as technological inventions such as paper, printing and gunpowder - key materials in the unfolding of history and civilization. Centuries later, however, the scientific and technological dynamism of the region gradually faded, leaving it a backwater with regard to the development of new inventions and of a scientific culture. Once again in recent years, there has been a notable resurgence of science and technology in many countries, though not in all. It was thus the primary objective of the Conference to stimulate the development of science and technology in all countries of the region, building further and more speedily on the advances that have already been made in the last three to four decades. Tokyo was indeed the most appropriate venue in the region for parliamentarians to consider these issues, as the city is symbolic of a nation which has reached the pinnacle of scientific and technological achievement.

2. Developments in science and technology have undoubtedly brought increased prosperity and welfare to humankind, but have also been used in ways which have led to disastrous results, such as war and the destruction of the environment. Parliaments should ensure that science and technology are used exclusively for the benefit of humankind, to bring about sustainable development.

3. There is tremendous diversity in the levels of scientific and technological achievement among countries in the region. A few - the developed countries, some newly industrializing countries and China and India - have built up major scientific and technological resources; a few others are on the way through efficient policies to build up such capacities; and there are still others which are much further behind and which can gain immensely from the experience of those which have been successful. The regional experience in science and technology is clear evidence of the decline of the sharp divisions between North and South, as developing countries themselves are no longer as dependent as they were on the North and on Western systems of technology. Developing countries and developed countries in the region have capacities in science and technology which can be used to benefit countries which are not equally endowed. There are major opportunities for deepening and intensifying science and technology flows within the region. Practical measures to this end should therefore be given high priority.

4. The Asia and Pacific region has half the world's population. It is also the region which contains the majority of the world's population below the poverty threshold. While science and technology have benefited the affluent and middle-income groups, these benefits have escaped the vast majority of the poor. At a time when nations all over the world are deeply concerned with sustainable patterns of development which ensure growth and equity consistent with the conservation of vital environmental resources, science and technology must be brought in as an integral element of development strategies which focus on the poor. It is therefore critical that governments in the region aim at optimal mobilization of scientific and technological resources to achieve this end.

5. Governments, parliaments, industry, academic bodies, non-governmental institutions, scientists and technologists, and professionals and laymen should join forces to develop an imaginative yet practical regional vision in utilizing science and technology for sustainable development. Regional co-operation in science and technology is a critical element in developing and implementing a regional vision and strategy. Development partnerships between countries in the region and with countries outside the region to utilize the evolving results of science and technology offer bright prospects for regional and global co-operation. Such scientific and technological partnerships have already been put in place, though selectively, and it is urgent that these practices become more widespread.

Focusing on Basic Needs

6. In any practical strategy for sustainable development in the region, very high priority must necessarily be attached to assuring the basic needs of the population. Failing to meet basic needs - minimum standards of food and nutrition, of housing, health care and education - is to deprive people of basic rights. Poverty of this kind is indeed one of the great sources of environmental degradation. These people living below the level of minimum needs cannot have access to benefits of science and technology, as they have neither the education nor the economic capacities which alone can enable them to obtain such benefits. Basic needs of people cannot be met in the long term through government redistributive mechanisms. The provision of such basic needs should be anchored on the creation of employment opportunities and the ownership of assets and knowledge; to achieve such an objective, economic and social institutional changes are required in the region. Science and technology can make an effective contribution only in the context of such institutional change. Along with such institutional changes, the Conference especially emphasized the importance of utilizing science and technology for the improvement of the agriculture and food sector, in developing relevant technologies for industry, in ensuring energy supplies and health care, and in providing sound environmental management.

7. In agriculture, productivity in the region generally is still relatively low when compared with more advanced agricultural systems. The vast majority of the population is employed in agriculture, working small holdings and employing traditional systems of production. Many staple and subsidiary crops are unique to the region. Research is still based on agendas which do not adequately reflect national and local priorities. Agricultural research should focus on the crops that are of interest to the small farmer and greater attention should be paid to holistic systems of farming which are environmentally sustainable. Research should be directed towards crop diversification rather than monocultures, and experimental research undertaken in research institutions should be closely linked with on-farm practices. The region could specifically allocate more resources and generate more resources for research into crops such as rice, coarse grains, vegetables, and horticultural and commodity crops and livestock which are specific to the region.

8. In industry, instead of an approach which is imitative of developed country systems, adequate research provision is required for the development of suitable technologies on the basis of factor endowments of countries in the region. In recent decades, the Asia and Pacific region has experienced the growth of rural industries and of small and medium-sized enterprises. Research and technological development should enable a thriving rural industry to be developed, especially to meet the domestic needs of countries with large numbers of relatively and absolutely poor. Sectors such as food processing, construction and building materials, rural transport infrastructures and telecommunications need to be priority targets in technology strategies. Greater attention should be focused on the innovative improvement of existing technologies, as such improvements can be undertaken at low cost and also lead to the generation of superior products available at much lower prices.

9. Reliable energy sources are vital for the improvement of living standards. Most of the energy supplies in the region come from biomass and coal. In the rural areas, the vast majority of people depend on fuelwood. Governments in most countries have attempted to increase commercial energy supplies, and such programmes as rural hydroelectricity need to be pursued with even greater vigour. The Conference however urged that scientific and technological efforts for more efficient energy systems using biomass and coal be enhanced so that the population's poorer groups might have access to energy supplies on a reliable basis. More resources need to be diverted to utilize clean coal technologies. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are especially important and could contribute to reducing potential global warming. Scientific and technological resources are urgently required to intensify research and development in these areas, as well as in bioenergy. Solar energy systems should be developed at competitive costs as a global undertaking.

10. As regards health care, the Asia and Pacific region basically has two systems - an indigenous, traditional system varying between countries, and a modern health sector based on more scientific systems of medicine and combined with sophisticated technologies. The majority of people in the region are users of traditional health care. There is also a resurgence of interest the world over in herbal medicine, on which most traditional Asia and Pacific systems of medicine are based. Cost-effectiveness demands that more scientific research be focused on traditional systems of medicine and on upgrading those systems, apart from the current processes of modernizing health technology.

11. In environment, efficient management is critical to sustainable development and provision of basic needs. In the Asia and Pacific region, a prime demand is for the preservation and conservation of its valuable tropical ecology built around tropical rainforests. The bio-diversity associated with these forests needs to be conserved, as in all other ecosystems. Degradation of soil needs to be halted and other kinds of environmental degradation such as growing industrial pollution need to be reversed. There should be wider adoption of practices that promote the ecologically sustainable management of agriculture and fishing. Many countries could gain from the experience of others in the region in this regard, and the world-wide environmental programme already established by IPU should be thus complemented by an Asia and Pacific regional “Green Network”. The wider adoption of greening policies and practices in the region could be considered in this context. Only the application of science and technology can enable developing countries to undertake efficient practices of environmental management. A practical way forward in utilizing science and technology for environmental improvement was mapped out in Agenda 21 adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 1992). The Conference therefore reiterated the call made by the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Environment and Development (Brasilia, November 1992) that those agreements should be effectively implemented.

Harnessing New Technologies

12. The Conference recognized the escalating speed with which scientific and technological discoveries and inventions are contributing to major global structural changes in economies and societies. New technologies are being developed on a massive scale in most areas of human endeavour, and the efficient and appropriate use of these technologies can be hugely beneficial to sustainable development. In new materials technology, ocean technology, electronics technology and renewable energy technology to name but a few, scientific and technological advances are offering people the prospect of utilizing science and technology in new directions. Of all the areas of science and technology, the Conference felt that at least two - biotechnology and information technology - should be given very high priority in the context of sustainable development and basic needs.

13. The Conference noted that biotechnology can be used to improve agriculture, especially through plant breeding and through pest control and the improvement of animal husbandry. It has major implications for basic health care and the development of pharmaceuticals, notably low-cost diagnostic and prophylactic agents, and in improving access to biomass-based energy and industrial applications. Major investments are being made by developed countries in research and development in biotechnology. The Conference urged that governments attach high priority to the development of biotechnology research and development capacities in the region, and that an institutional infrastructure be created to exploit these results of biotechnology. Regional co-operation can be a valuable instrument in undertaking cost-effective research and development activities.

14. The Conference recognized that information technology is rapidly bringing about major changes in the behaviour patterns of business, industry, government and households and ordinary people. Vast masses of data and information are being generated, analyzed, disseminated and utilized for varied purposes. Information technology can be a tremendous instrument in ensuring sustainable development and the satisfaction of basic needs through the efficient use of natural resources, manpower skills, and goods and services created by society. Information technology is not only for the sophisticated and the experts, but can and should be used for the benefit of ordinary people. Parliaments in particular could consider establishing linkages within the region by utilizing facilities that are now available through INTERNET.

Investing in People

15. The Conference recognized that human capital is the most valuable resource that a country can possess for its advancement. Scientific and technological education constitutes a critical part of such human capital. It cannot be undertaken only through formal systems of education, and thus more wide-ranging arrangements are required to facilitate such education not only in schools and universities, but also at the workplace, and in the home and in the general community. A scientific and technological culture, as can be found in many developed countries, can only emerge if the general public becomes involved in scientific and technological activities in varying degrees of intensity. Facilitating such an outcome is not only a task for governments but should also be the aim of private sector institutions, non-governmental institutions and of the great institutions of science and technology which can now be found in most countries. Critical to the effective implementation of all programmes of sustainable development will be the commitment and genuine involvement of all social groups. The international community has unequivocally advocated the equal and beneficial integration of women in all development activities. This should most certainly be emphasized in all areas of scientific and technological activity. The Conference strongly endorses the need for the active involvement of women in the use of science and technology for sustainable development in the countries of the region.

16. Science and technology, and sustainable resource management, should always have an important place in the curricula of primary and secondary education. Traditional practices which attached priority to the arts and humanities to the detriment of science are now being reversed in most countries and equal weight is now attached to these subjects, which are indeed an important element in education, and to disciplines relating to science and technology. Girls should be encouraged to enter the science and technology education stream. Governments need to continually make intense efforts to improve the quality of teaching and standards in science and technology. Colleges for training teachers of science and technology must be given very high priority in education policies. Resources for equipping schools with satisfactory laboratories and school equipment such as computers need to be made available. There have been significant problems in the secondary educational sector in obtaining public funds for capital expenditures and for care and maintenance of science laboratories and equipment. Governments need to ensure predictable flows of funding for these purposes.

17. The Conference agreed that technical schools and polytechnics, and similar institutions of both a general and specialized nature have contributed significantly to the improvement of scientific and technological education in many developed countries. Countries with a long-standing tradition of such systems of technical education are in the vanguard of scientific and technological development. Countries in the region could gain immensely from a better understanding of that experience, especially with regard to arrangements such as apprenticeship systems linked to technical training in specialized areas. Greater efforts are required in many countries in the region to establish and upgrade technical training systems. Such efforts need to be co-ordinated by governments, and private sector enterprises have a key role to play in the development of such training systems. Technical schools of a specialized nature should aim at developing close links with small and medium-sized enterprises in their regions, so that there is continuing technological interaction between them which should facilitate not only more relevant research, but also new niches of profitability for enterprises.

18. Science and technology in universities are crucial to a country's progress. Whereas in many countries in the region, universities have built up major capacities in science and technology, there are many others that are lagging behind. Universities need to be encouraged to recruit the cream of scientists and technologists for teaching and research, and for this purpose, systems of remuneration and facilities for research and exchange of experience should be appropriately established. Universities themselves need to make an increased effort to link up with business and industry so that research is more relevant from an industrial point of view. Universities in the region could draw on the experience in this regard of many developed countries which have highly productive connections with business and industry, thus giving universities greater access to resources.

19. The Conference urged that governments and the private sector attach high priority to ensuring that scientists and technologists are assured of a key role in the community and at the workplace. Trained scientists and technologists need to be appropriately utilized, and they should be in the mainstream of government and private sector activities, especially in boardrooms of large enterprises. The countries in the region have suffered from an extensive brain drain over the last few decades, as well as the inappropriate employment of qualified citizens. These problems need to be curbed, not through controls, but by the creation of a more congenial environment in which scientists and technologists can work. It is especially important to encourage and stimulate greater participation of women in the numerous fields of science and technology. They should be encouraged to take their place in universities and in boardrooms of large private enterprises.

Business and Industry

20. The Conference strongly emphasized the role of business and industry in enhancing the contribution of science and technology to sustainable development. The increasing reliance placed on market forces and private sector institutions with regard to economic development obliges industry and commerce to utilize scientific and technological resources at their command in the pursuit of sustainable development. While public policies are important to enable the private sector to make the most of such scientific and technological capacities, there is a large area of opportunity for initiatives by business and industry.

21. Current evidence clearly indicates that industry and business in most countries in the region are far behind those of the developed countries when it comes to allocating resources for research and development. In developed countries in general, a significant proportion of the resources for research and development originates in private sector business and industry. In most countries of the Asian and Pacific region, the share of private sector research and development is relatively small - significantly smaller than it should be. Most industrial firms, and particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, allocate only an insignificant share of their turnover to research and development. There is far too much reliance by these on government research, as if the function of research and development was solely that of government. It is important that business and industry move towards greater recognition of the particular contribution that research and development can make to their own business opportunities and in achieving larger societal goals. The Conference urged government, industry and business together and jointly to make a renewed effort to increase productive research and development expenditures.

22. Many countries in the region rely to a large extent for their development on direct foreign investment and technological transfer from abroad. Direct foreign investment is intimately linked with technology flows, and many countries now look upon such investment as the key channel for technological advance. The Asia and Pacific region has emerged as a major target of foreign investment from countries outside the region; there are also major flows of investment and technology within the region. While technology flows will be governed primarily by market forces which determine investment and trading opportunities, there is an increasingly recognizable need for the improvement of capacities within many countries of the region for absorbing and integrating such technology flows in the pursuit of sustainable development. Imported technologies should enable developing countries in the region to build up their own indigenous technological capacities. The Conference called on private sector institutions, in industry and commerce, and representative institutions, such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry, to focus more intensively on the selection, appropriation and absorption of imported technologies to enhance the quality of technological upgrading of their own countries.

23. The Conference observed that a pervasive phenomenon in most countries of the region is the weakness and fragility of the linkages between business and industry on the one hand, and university and other tertiary education scientific and research institutional capacities on the other. There are no strong traditions of linkages of industry with institutions of higher education and research. The relative neglect of such linkages has adversely affected prospects on both sides, and much could be done to improve these linkages. Universities can be more alert to the needs of business and industry, especially in the context of the opportunities that are available for technological upgrading of products and services. Universities can consider making their scientific and technological capacities available to industry on a contractual basis. Similarly, industry and business can alert universities to the kinds of scientific and technological restraints they face which require practical solutions. The Conference urged industry and business, universities and polytechnics to establish a greater symbiotic and synergistic approach in the utilization of science and technology.

The Role of Government

24. The Conference stressed the central role of governments in developing a comprehensive policy for science and technology in sustainable development and facilitating its consistent implementation. While many governments in the region have put together science and technology policies, many others need to make significant improvements. One of government's functions is determining priorities, securing appropriate funding for science and technology, and for research and development, negotiating in multilateral organizations, working out bilateral arrangements for scientific and technological co-operation, stimulating the private sector, and establishing its own scientific and technological research facilities within the machinery of government.

25. Governments play a major role in determining the level of resources that will be deployed for science and technology. In this context, governments need to encourage increased investments by industry in science and technology. Steps need to be taken to reexamine current levels and arrangements of industrial funding of science and technology, and measures that are required to increase such funding, especially in critical areas of national development. In many countries, scientific research is funded through systems of levies specific to a product group, and while this is satisfactory in some ways, it could also lead to neglect of potentially important areas which cannot initially generate their own funding in this way.

26. Governments in the region spend anything between 0.2 per cent and 1 per cent of their GNP on scientific research. It is vital that these resources be utilized to maximum effect, and therefore governments need to ensure efficiency of research practices, focus research on high priority areas and link up with the industrial sector to enable it to make effective use of the results of government-funded research through their own enterprises. Current funding arrangements for public sector science and technology are not adequate in most countries, and such funding also appears to be a low priority in government budgetary decisions. While it is true that results of research are to be seen in the medium and long term, governments need to bear in mind that it is a vital element of a country's economic and social progress and that such funding should therefore be maintained and gradually increased.

27. The Conference felt that scientific and technological issues should be placed at the centre of government, and institutions and agencies concerned therewith should be brought into policy- and decision-making within government in a more concerted manner than current practices allow. It is also essential that governments put in place the required machinery to evaluate and implement co-ordinated and inter-disciplinary approaches, since science and technology alone cannot be effective in the absence of more comprehensive sustainable development policies. Governments also need to take action to enable scientists and technologists to play a more active role at decision-making levels through appropriate schemes of recruitment, promotion and remuneration, and by enabling such scientists and technologists to obtain relevant experience through exchange programmes and sabbatical leave arrangements. Governments should also consider the publication, at least every two years, of a report on the development of science and technology in the country, so that progress made by a country in science and technology may be audited regularly.

A Regional Partnership

28. The Conference recognized that the current economic and social situation in the region clearly warranted a more intense effort to find innovative forms of co-operation among countries in the region. The significant scientific and technological resources available in many countries, the diversity of levels of development and consequent diversity of needs, and growing economic interdependence are all factors which have converged to make possible a greater degree of scientific and technological co-operation among countries in the region. There is already an increasing flow of technology linked to investments within the region and these need to be enhanced. However, there are many other potential mechanisms of regional co-operation which need to be fully utilized.

29. Countries in the region can benefit from learning from each other's experience in scientific and technological development. Many countries, especially in North and East Asia and in Australasia, have built up large scientific and technological capacities by developing a range of appropriate policies which have facilitated linkage between government and business and industry , the selective use and adaptation of foreign technologies and research and development infrastructures. The science and technology policy experience of these countries should be examined more closely by other countries in the region so that improvements can be brought about within the region as a whole. Regional arrangements should be established, utilizing the services of regional institutions, to analyse and examine the policy experience with regard to science and technology in the region with a view to making possible a more intense learning process and policy development.

30. The Conference urged governments to embark on an urgent examination of developing co-operative research efforts among countries in the region on key issues of common concern in science and technology, and to stimulate sustainable development. There is a large body of experience to be drawn on in developed countries, which have established joint inter-country arrangements for scientific and technological collaboration to deal with issues of common concern which require high quality and expensive research efforts. Countries in the region could focus initially on a few selected areas of research, concentrating on the sustainable management of local natural resources and region-specific agricultural commodities.

31. There is significant scope to promote greater interaction between and among research institutions and researchers. A primary requirement is to enable these institutions and researchers to be better informed of research activities within the region, and to create a forum which will make possible such information flows. Clearing houses for this kind of information are therefore essential. It should be feasible to promote networking arrangements among institutions to learn from each other and to organize divisions of labour on research activities, and develop systems for exchange of personnel through visiting fellowships and attachments. Training arrangements might also be encouraged within the region through research networks.

32. Many countries in the region have the capacity to offer modest levels of development assistance to other countries which are not equally endowed with scientific and technological resources. It should be feasible for several countries in the region to offer facilities through their development assistance budgets to increase the types of scientific and co-operation arrangements which were outlined in the paragraphs above. Technical co-operation arrangements at the regional level might focus on the exchange of expertise and training in science and technology.

33. Regional bodies can play an important role in facilitating greater scientific and technological co-operation within the region and in undertaking activities identified in outline by the Conference. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) could devote more efforts to issues of scientific and technological co-operation and might consider science and technology for sustainable development as a major special theme for one of its annual sessions. Other regional intergovernmental bodies, as well as the Tokyo-based United Nations University, could also undertake related activities in promoting regional co-operation based on a comprehensive set of regional policies to be developed through a regional forum such as ESCAP. Special attention should be devoted to the establishment of intra-regional training arrangements and mechanisms through which scientific and technological training can be pursued cost-effectively. For this purpose, the existing institutions in the region should be utilized and consideration be given to the possible creation of new institutions.

The Global Perspective

34. Noting that the ODA budgets of some countries have regrettably declined, the Conference called on all developed countries and multilateral organizations to enhance their efforts to build up scientific and technological capacities in the Asia and Pacific region so that these countries can ensure economic progress through sustainable patterns of development. Developed countries have made an important contribution to science and technology in the region through direct foreign investment and associated flows of technology, the provision of development assistance, technical co-operation, and a range of mechanisms for exchange of expertise and experience. Development assistance should be more focused on science and technology partnerships and the building-up of scientific and technological capacities, particularly for the benefit of developing countries in the region which are still lagging behind.

35. The Conference urged governments in the region to be more actively and articulately involved in the shaping of global agendas for science and technology. Science and technology issues are increasingly the subject of multilateral negotiations, whether it be in large global conferences such as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development or in less high-profile fora within the UN system or other intergovernmental bodies. Governments in the region should aim at developing their own concerted positions based on their own country and regional interests, and having them included in global agendas. For example, it should be the aim of regional governments to stimulate more research into agricultural systems relevant to regional concerns and, in the health sector, to devote more resources for research into tropical diseases.

Follow-up and Initiatives by Parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union

36. The Conference felt that the individual participants and the Asia and Pacific National Groups of IPU should resolutely work for the follow-up of the above recommendations with a view to their effective implementation. The recommendations being of a very wide-ranging nature, they should therefore be pursued not only by national parliaments and governments but also within exiting regional bodies and multilateral organizations.

37. The full use of modern communications and information technologies, such as INTERNET, could be of benefit to parliaments and parliamentarians; the Conference accordingly recommended that the Inter-Parliamentary Council consider establishing a working group on inter-parliamentary communications with a view to setting up an “Inter-Parliamentary Network”.

38. As regards recommendations made for the creation of regional inter-parliamentary mechanisms or networks, the Conference observed that further in-depth study is required concerning the nature, scope and implications of these recommendations and therefore recommended that their sponsors and concerned parties bring them before the Asia and Pacific group of IPU for study at its next meeting to see how they could be integrated in the general programme of activities of the parliaments concerned.

39. The Conference recommended that those parliaments which do not already have a committee or other body dealing with science and technology questions consider creating such a body in accordance with their internal procedures so that they may better tackle such issues.

40. With this in view and as an immediate step, the Conference called on:

(a) The Asia and Pacific National Groups of IPU to:

  • See to it that the findings of the Conference are given proper attention by their respective parliaments and governments, particularly the relevant parliamentary committees dealing with issues of science and technology and development co-operation;
  • Give the greatest possible publicity to these findings in their countries, notably by disseminating them to the media, scientific and special interest groups and relevant non-governmental organizations;

(b) The IPU Secretary General to transmit the findings of the Conference to the relevant regional and world-wide international institutions, asking them to give special attention to the conclusions and recommendations.

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