Using open science to maximize SDG impact – a case study on Chagas disease

– Valeria Arza and Agustina Colonna

Research Center for Transformation (CENIT), Economics and Business School, National University of San Martin

24 August 2020

It is no wonder that Chagas disease was included in the list of neglected tropical diseases by the World Health Organization in 2007 (WHO, 2020). Over 100 years have passed since Chagas was first discovered and there is still no appropriate solution to this problem, which mainly affects marginalized communities around the globe.

Chagas constitutes a socio-environmental problem (Sanmartino, 2015) that interacts with several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in addition to good health and wellbeing (SDG 3). For instance, education and access to information is key for prevention; better infrastructure, including roads and hospitals, is important for early detection and treatment; while changes in ecological systems, due to production activities and climate change, have moved the vector (i.e. the kissing bugs that may transmit the disease) towards new, frequently urban, areas.

By |2020-08-25T09:24:28+01:00August 24th, 2020|Research|0 Comments

Consensus and dissensus in ‘mappings’ of science for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

– Ismael Rafols

Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University & Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex

30 July 2020

The shift in R&D goals towards the SDGs is driving demand for new S&T indicators…

The shift in S&T policy from a focus on research quality (or ‘excellence’) towards societal impact has led to a demand for new S&T indicators that capture the contributions of research to society, in particular those aligned with SDGs. The use of the new ‘impact’ indicators would help monitoring if (and which) research organisations are aligning their research towards certain SDGs.

Responding to these demands, data providers, consultancies and university analysts are rapidly developing methods to map projects or publications related to specific SDGs. These ‘mappings’ do not analyse the actual impact of research, but hope to capture instead if research is directed towards problems or technologies that can potentially contribute to improving sustainability and wellbeing.

By |2020-08-03T10:29:37+01:00July 30th, 2020|Research|0 Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic and Open Science

–  Valeria Arza and Agustina Colonna

Research Center for Transformation (CENIT), Economics and Business School, National University of San Martin

6 May 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has brought about many changes throughout the world in only a matter of weeks. Humanity is facing a problem without precedent; the final effects are yet uncertain and most of us have been forced to drastically change our routines and behaviors in a way we have never imagined. Big challenges often boost creativity and promote important transformations in society, and this has been the case with the coronavirus crisis. Note for instance the many solidarity initiatives ranging from fund-raising schemes and food banks, to volunteers assisting individuals in high-risk groups, together with several citizen-led resources that have been created or adapted to help find our way through the pandemic (EU Citizen Science 2020). Another relevant example has been the drastic change in many information markets, where thousands of resources such as books, museum exhibitions and movies have been temporarily opened for the community free of cost.

For science, the particular challenge posed by this situation is immense, as the spread of coronavirus has created urgent and life-threatening problems. Solutions must then be fast, while the

By |2020-05-07T15:25:17+01:00May 6th, 2020|Uncategorised|0 Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic shows how power produces poverty

Saurabh Arora and Divya Sharma

Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex

28 April 2020

This blog was originally published on the STEPS Centre website.

Responses by governments to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world reveal how poverty is produced by social power. The pandemic points, in particular, to the culpability of power exercised through the state.

Consider the Indian government’s top-down lockdown imposed on 24th March 2020. Arguably “the world’s strictest lockdown”, it is producing widespread impoverishment through mass unemployment, leading to hunger and hardship for millions. Livelihoods carefully built over many years by people are being destroyed. Hard-earned dignity is being compromised by desperate poverty produced through diktats of the state.

Many observers in India have noted that some of the immediate suffering produced by the lockdown could have been avoided. The chaotic lockdown is marked by police violence (against street vendors and migrant workers) as well as a lack of responsibility and accountability. The national government, it seems, was unprepared for the effects of its own response to the pandemic. A relief package, announced two days after the lockdown’s imposition, has proven inadequate. It is failing to reach many of

By |2020-04-28T17:09:29+01:00April 28th, 2020|Research|0 Comments

Modernity without its clothes: the pandemic crisis shines a light on futilities of control

– Andy Stirling

Professor of Science & Technology Policy, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex.

17 April 2020

This blog was originally published on the STEPS Centre website.

With so many self-appointed pundits (like me!) currently locked down with their laptops, the present rush of commentary on how to pivot the coronavirus crisis is hardly surprising. Beyond the general news and commentary, scores of articles are exploding across the media, diagnosing what this global catastrophe means, and prescribing how it can be turned to variously-held positive ends.

Understandably, dozens of these contributions focus on renewing – or reversing impeded – action on climate change. But other strongly-pursued aims include reforming academic orthodoxiesreimagining universitiesenhancing scientific collaborationde-globalising infrastructuresaccelerating energy transitionsbuilding resilienceadvancing conservationmobilising political movementsimproving social justicereducing consumptionachieving the Sustainable Development Goalsrejuvenating democracyreorienting capitalismrestructuring the economybuilding a greener worldresisting ecofascism; and generally steering possible futures to save the planet. All eloquently voiced, several

By |2020-04-17T11:42:12+01:00April 17th, 2020|Uncategorised|0 Comments

COVID-19 and Sustainability

– John Robinson

Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and the School of the Environment, at the University of Toronto.

15 April 2020

The plethora of articles about the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis makes me think of the Danish saying, (sometimes attributed to Niels Bohr) “it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future”. Many articles provide a mixture of highly plausible projections, mixed in with some wishful thinking. However, I think it is fair to say that such lists consist almost entirely of what might be called first-order predictions: expectations about the immediate consequences of COVID-19. Another saying I like is that the only law of sociology is the law of unanticipated consequences, and I think there will be lots of second and third-order effects that may take us in entirely different directions, even if many of the first order prognostications turn out to be correct. My own personal view is that the second order consequences of any major socio-technical system change are often in the opposite direction of the first order consequences, and bigger. Think of projections of IT leading to the paperless office or of highway building leading to less congestion. The

By |2020-04-15T12:12:03+01:00April 15th, 2020|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Can we align Science, Technology and Innovation to the Sustainable Development Goals in Low and Middle-Income Country contexts? The quest for meaningful questions.

– Ine Steenmans, Tommaso Ciarli and Joanna Chataway

31 March 2020

Science, technology and innovation (STI) are often invoked as essential to addressing some of the most serious of threats to our world.  A common narrative is optimistic about the contribution that new science and technologies can make; scientific advances and innovative applications are what give us access to cleaner energy supply, new medications, new vaccines to control a virus pandemic, and more accessible public infrastructures.  Consideration of negative externalities or the need to actively steer science and technology in certain directions mostly do not feature.

This is certainly a time when there is global awareness of the multiple, shared challenges that require large scale action within the near term. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide us with a single shared reference point to what 17 of the most pressing issues faced across the world are. Given STI’s history of changing the fundamental structures of society, the potential for positive impact and the need to avoid further environmental and societal harm, it is  unsurprising to find that there is particular interest in asking: how can we steer STI to better align with the SDGs?

The STRINGS project starts from the premise that

By |2020-04-01T09:09:20+01:00March 31st, 2020|Uncategorised|0 Comments

Global solidarity in science and innovation will stop COVID-19 and speed the SDGs

– John Ouma-Mugabe

Professor of Science and Innovation Policy, Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM), University of Pretoria

27 March 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is exposing the complex organic interrelationships of science, innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An invisible virus, COVID-19 is a threat to humanity and the world’s economies. It is intricately linked to our delicate social, economic, technological and ecological systems. COVID-19 may have been caused by human activities and their impacts on the environment. In The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It, Jonathan Quick, notes that deforestation, climate change and rapid urbanization contribute to the emergence of new pathogens that pose global health risks.[1]

COVID-19 may undermine prospects of attaining some of the SDGs. For example, it is already causing disruptions in the transitions to SDG8 (decent work and employment) and SDG9 (fostering industry, innovation and infrastructure). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate that the global economy will contract by at least 50%, with GDP growth expected to be 1.5% instead of the 3% that had been projected at the beginning of this year.[2] The decline in

By |2020-03-31T15:19:47+01:00March 27th, 2020|Research|0 Comments

On the Importance of the Science-Policy Interface for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

– Jacob Assa


28 February 2020

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set a very ambitious vision for what humanity needs to accomplish by the year 2030. With just 10 years left, the United Nations system has declared a Decade of Action, with an urgent call for accelerating efforts towards achieving the SDGs. Fundamental to these efforts is the rethinking of the role of science, finance and policy alike. But beyond progress in each of these areas separately, the interaction between science and policy is critical to tackling global challenges and achieving the SDGs.

This two-year project is an important step towards informing this science-policy dialogue and is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund of UK Research and Innovation. STRINGS consists of a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), research centers and seven leading universities, aiming at mapping the complex relations between research in science, technology and innovation (STI) on the one hand, and the SDGs on the other. This research will be published as a report in 2021, and it will deepen our understanding of the variety of science, research, technology and innovation pathways that may contribute to SDGs.

By |2020-02-28T16:47:22+00:00February 28th, 2020|Research|0 Comments

Breeding or Conservation: Enhancing access to climate-resilient rice seeds in India

– Rasheed Sulaiman V

Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy (CRISP), India

22 January 2020

The food security of more than half the world’s population depends on rice production. Most rice production environments are increasingly affected by climate change. Farmers need access to seeds of rice varieties that can tolerate increasing incidents of droughts, floods and salinity. While diverse pathways are needed to address this challenge, most science, technology and innovation (STI) policies frame this as a breeding challenge. It is high time that we prioritise other potential pathways such as in-situ conservation of indigenous rice varieties that can effectively withstand these stresses.

Rice is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in Asia.  In India, rice is grown in almost half the states. Rice farming in India is characterized by increasing incidence of abiotic stresses, such as droughts, floods and salinity, making the enterprise risky and thereby adversely affecting the livelihoods of poor, smallholder farming households.

Farmers need access to seeds of rice varieties that can tolerate droughts, floods and salinity. Though Indian farmers grew more than 100,000 varieties of rice till the 1970’s, many of these traditional landraces disappeared from cultivation when the

By |2020-01-22T11:21:14+00:00January 22nd, 2020|Research|0 Comments