A digital tool to map national science, technology and innovation (STI) landscapes and analyse STI policies and their implementation was launched by UNESCO. The Global Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments (GO-SPIN) on-line platform, developed with the financial support of the Swedish government, is a source of information on STI policies and policy instruments for more than 50 developing countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia, but also a tool for monitoring, benchmarking, capacity-building and analysis. It will support evidence-based decision-making and inclusive policies towards sustainable development.
“GO-SPIN is now recognized as an international tool for STI monitoring and evaluation, also as a tool for monitoring the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals,” explained Ms Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, as the tool was presented to Member States at UNESCO Headquarters on 29 November.
The Platform provides access to a diverse set of legal and policy instruments, quantitative data and qualitative information on different dimensions of STI policies. It focuses on developing countries and their specific characteristics and needs, while linking STI with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It includes information on policies, development plans, legal frameworks and describes thousands of operational policy instruments. The platform also offers graphic tools to analyse correlations between more than 300 STI indicators and data over 60 years, as well as links to UNESCO databases and a digital library in STI policy.
A panel of experts and policy-makers that have been involved in GO-SPIN projects shared their experiences using the tool, providing diverse viewpoints on its relevance. “GO-SPIN is an instrument I can use as a researcher,” explained Tomas Kjellqvist, to learn from comparative studies, and “to help us formulate the right questions, and see what is missing”, as all countries are struggling to develop STI policy that are relevant to the SDGs.
For African Group Representative Immo Onuegbu, the platform is an extension of UNESCO’s technical assistance, providing “a benchmark we can use as we develop and improve our policies, and where we can share our best practices.” Sharifa Al Harthy of the Research Council, Oman, added that the platform will help countries to learn from each other and compare different approaches to building a national innovation system.
“GO-SPIN is a much needed central depository,” agreed Dong Wu, of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), “and a go-to place to find out who are the main players, information on past policy documents and the interactions between different actors in the innovation system.”
According to Juan Manuel Brunetti Marcos of the National Council for Science and Technology of Paraguay (CONACYT), the GO-SPIN platform will improve synergy and increased coordination between government offices and STI stakeholders. A GO-SPIN country profile on Paraguay was also launched on this occasion, the 8th in country profile developed since the inception of the project.
Shirley Malcom, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) emphasized the importance of the gender dimension of GO-SPIN, saying “including gender in STI is normative. The gender component in GOSPIN brings gender to the centre and having this element in the platform is vital and key to human resource development.”
Member States are all invited to join their efforts with UNESCO to further develop GO-SPIN, to add information and to update the platform as a way to improve governance and capacity-building in STI.