After four days of online debates, legal and technical experts representing over 100 Member States examined and adopted by consensus the draft text of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. The text of the Recommendation will now be submitted to the UNESCO General Conference, for final adoption by all 193 UNESCO Member States in November 2021.
The Recommendation, developed through an inclusive, consultative, multistakeholder process, is expected to provide the first global standard-setting framework on Open Science. Taking into account regional and disciplinary differences, it aims at promoting broad circulation of scientific knowledge, enhancing collaboration between scientists worldwide, strengthening the links between science and society, and driving for international scientific cooperation, since only 23.5 % of scientific production is currently produced by international co-authors. Building on the consensus across regions, it includes a clear definition, key objectives and the key pillars of Open Science.
In order to promote Open Science on a national and international scale, the Recommendation encourages all Member States to make an effort to contribute at least 1% of national gross domestic product (GDP) dedicated to research and cooperation. Indeed, Open Science will only strive if all countries in all regions provide appropriate investment in their national science, technology and innovation systems.
The committee adopted with a strong consensus the definition of “Open Science” :
an inclusive construct that combines various movements and practices aiming to make multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone, to increase scientific collaborations and sharing of information for the benefits of science and society, and to open the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community. It includes all scientific disciplines and aspects of scholarly practices, including basic and applied sciences, natural and social sciences and the humanities, and it builds on the following key pillars: open scientific knowledge, open science infrastructures, science communication, open engagement of societal actors and open dialogue with other knowledge systems.
The draft recommendation, developed during the health crisis and its follow-up discussion to free vaccine patents, thus presents a common definition, shared values, principles and standards for open science and proposes a set of actions conducive to a fair and equitable implementation of open science at all levels. It also introduces more inclusiveness with regard to regional differences and indigenous knowledge systems, captures the specific challenges of scientists and other open science actors in developing countries, and stresses the importance of engaging the whole society in science.
As noted by the Director General “We are hopeful that this Global Recommendation on Open Science will provide the necessary framework for actors across the world to transform and democratize science. In this way, we can ensure that science truly responds to the most pressing needs of people and the planet, for the benefit of all.”
This intergovernmental meeting saw the participation of 106 countries represented by 230 experts.