Access to Scientific Knowledge (A2SK): Lessons learned and the way forward for SDG2030

Panel highlights that the world’s ability to achieve SDG2030 will depend on how quick the scientific information and products are transacted between and among different stakeholder and our ability for “real-time” transaction of scientific knowledge. Panel also asserted the need to remove all barriers to access “real time” knowledge and noted the need for forging new collaborations, creating new infrastructure base and innovating special provisions to enhance access to scientific knowledge for SDG2030 …

The rapid development of Information and Communication Technologies is not only transforming the way people communicate, learn and interact with each other, but is also providing new possibilities for information gathering and sharing. ICT has also contributed to transform science into science 2.0. From the proliferation of big scientific data, to an increasing shift of basic to applied science, to the increasing popularity of open science, to the use of “virtual” science, and increasing utility of citizen science have all comprehensively changed how science currently works and delivers its outputs to advance humanity. These fast but profound transformations are impacting both scientific community as well as the public as these have given rise to new research questions, tools, terminologies, processes and products.

The panel noted that access to Scientific Information needs to be examined differently as the process to achieve at least ten sustainable development goals would depend on continuous scientific knowledge feed. Amidst the changing context, stakeholders would have to examine the entire ecosystem of Access to Scientific Knowledge (A2SK) differently.  From the context of achieving climate resilience to creating a condition for food and water security, much would depend on how information or the processed knowledge would be transacted between and among stakeholders. This shift would not only have to be realized in how the knowledge torch bearers would inform the affected public, but how general public be involved in the whole process. Panelists asserted a pressing need to analyze the changing context of the use of ICTs – defined in terms of tools, content and processes. The panel discussed several issues and concluded the following:

  1. The existing policy lacunae needs to be abridged with inclusive policy development dialogues backed with policy formulation exercises and time-bound monitoring and follow-up agenda.
  2. Regional collaborations are essential to localize efforts and to create conditions for north-south and south-south collaboration.
  3. There is an urgent need for the development of infrastructure and/ or enhancing capacities to utilize existing infrastructure. 
  4. Capacity enhancements are needed at all levels.  It is essential to innovate approaches to build capacities at the policy levels, which must include ability to take stock, follow up, and monitor efforts made on the ground.
  5. International community must increase their development assistance to enhance A2SK and leverage enough funding to implement efforts to achieve WSIS goals.
  6. There is a need to reduce north-south and south-south divide in approaches to develop science and access to science.
  7. Generate benchmarks and monitoring mechanism for openness and inclusiveness of the entire ecosystem of scientific knowledge.
  8. There is a need to appreciate the role of citizen during SDG 2030. It is essential to appreciate the fact that citizen around the world are increasingly becoming equipped with ICT devices.  It will be very useful to tap on to this new connectedness. In this context, it is important that appropriate tools and processes are established to mainstreamed information thus transacted and recognize its value within the broader context of A2SK.
  9. Despite many efforts to improve access, it is essential to appreciate that there is a disparity in openness between and among developed and developing countries. This needs to be observed both from the perspectives of Openness and Inclusiveness It is imperative to realize that to create science the cost related to openness must be borne by someone. 

There are some tell-tell sign that increasingly the disparity is now changed from the erstwhile “ability to access” to now “ability to share” knowledge?
The panel suggested undertaking an iterative set of inquiries to the larger community to understand what tools are readily available and what needs to be developed. Noting the need to increase Promptness, Openness and Inclusiveness in knowledge transaction as the world’s ability to achieve SDGs, panel suggested the following agenda for the implementation of WSIS Action lines beyond 2015:

  • Undertaking a collaborative assessment on Access to information and knowledge across SDGs
  • Assessment of available tools for SDG relevant decision making
  • Identifying the needs and the gaps for decision making
  • Enabling development of tools, processes and contents that help bridge the gap between the needs and available science
  • Developing means to pathways between data and knowledge
  • Improving monitoring capability for A2SK towards SDG milestones
  • Forging holistic mechanism for enabling Open data, Open Access and Open Processes and their application for SDGs
  • Since Global experiences have helped in creating best practices, create mechanisms for accessing the knowledge and the expertise
  • Developing collaborating mechanisms at various levels for leveraging funds for A2SK

The panel involved Honorable Minister for Telecommunication and Media, Burundi, Dr Yolanda Martinez,  Government of Mexico, Dr Indrajit Banerjee, UNESCO, Paris, France, Dr Jens Vigen,  CERN, Switzerland, Dr Simon Hudson,  ICSU/CODATA, France, Professor  Pradeep Mujumdar Indian Institute of Science, India, Dr Medha Devare, CGIAR Consortium, France and  Professor Dev Niyogi, Purdue University, USA was moderated by Dr Bhanu Neupane of KSD/UNESCO.