There are fewer grounds today than in the past to deplore a North‑South divide in research and innovation. This is one of the key findings of the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030. A large number of countries are now incorporating science, technology and innovation in their national development agenda, in order to make their economies less reliant on raw materials and more rooted in knowledge.
Most research and development (R&D) is taking place in high-income countries, but innovation of some kind is now occurring across the full spectrum of income levels according to the first survey of manufacturing companies in 65 countries conducted by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and summarized in this report.
For many lower-income countries, sustainable development has become an integral part of their national development plans for the next 10–20 years. Among higher-income countries, a firm commitment to sustainable development is often coupled with the desire to maintain competitiveness in global markets that are increasingly leaning towards ‘green’ technologies.
The quest for clean energy and greater energy efficiency now figures among the research priorities of numerous countries. Another trend is the growing policy interest in local and indigenous knowledge systems in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, in particular.
Gender equality remains a challenge for the future. Despite having achieved parity in higher education in many countries, women are still a minority in research positions worldwide.
The trends and developments in science, technology and innovation policy and governance between 2009 and mid-2015 described here provide essential baseline information on the concerns and priorities of countries that will orient the implementation and drive the assessment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the years to come.