Sweden grants 13.695 million USD to three UNESCO scientific programmes

19 May 2017

Sweden will provide 13.695 million USD over five years to fund three scientific programmes –The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS), the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and GenderInSite– that focus on the promotion of science in the developing world. The three UNESCO programmes are headquartered at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.

Under this new agreement, The World Academy of Sciences will receive 6.665 million USD to grant research fellowships to young scientists or research groups in 66 science-and-technology lagging countries (STLCs). The grants can serve to fund equipment, travel or publication costs to support post-doc research in basic sciences. The funds will also serve to invite scientists from STLCs to scientific conferences in the Academy’s regional offices to present their work, and to support the TWAS science diplomacy programme, which was initiated in 2011.

“We have been funding this programme since 1991, and we are seeing that it has worked as a first seal of approval for the scientists that have benefited from it, allowing them to access further funding from other sources. The grants do not represent huge sums –each grant is up to 15.000 USD per individual scientist– but they are making a difference, because they benefit scientists in countries where there are few other sources of funding, and sometimes none at all,” explains Claire Lyngå, Research Advisor of the Department for Partnerships and Innovations of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

"Our partnership with Sida has had an extraordinary, positive impact on the advance of science in the developing world," said TWAS Executive Director Mohamed Hassan. "We have built labs, and we have educated and trained new generations of researchers. We are profoundly grateful for Sida's continuing support, and we will work to make the next five years our most productive yet."

The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World will receive 6.398 million USD to fund PhD fellowships in science and technology that enable women scientists from science-and-technology lagging countries to study in low- and middle-income countries with good research infrastructures. More than 400 women researchers have benefited from this support since 1997, when Sida began its collaboration with OWSD. Many of them have gone on to become professors or principal investigators in their home country. It is estimated that 150 to 200 grants will be funded between 2017 and 2020 under this new agreement. The call for applications for the next fellows is now open, until 19 June. Sida will also continue to support regional workshops and the OWSD General Assembly, and to fund travel grants that enable fellows to present their work in national regional and international conferences.   

TWAS fellow Maria Victoria Preciado

Maria Victoria Preciado, bottom left, stands with her research group in Argentina. Preciado received a grant in 1997 for equipment to support the molecular analysis of tissues that could contain the Epstein-Barr virus, which is not only useful to research but can literally be a matter of life or death for transplant patients.

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Gender equality is one of Sida’s priorities. Scientific research must be conducted in the South, under the responsibility of women scientists from the South. Scientists from low-income countries –both women and men- must have access to scientific excellence, and they must contribute to the global research agenda. Current scientific challenges are global and require a global response, with inputs from scientists of the South” added Claire Lyngå. 

Finally, the remaining funds (632,000 USD) will support GenderInSITE, a global initiative that promotes the role of women in science, innovation, technology and engineering. GenderInSITE is founded on the belief that equitable sustainable development can only be achieved when women and men participate in science, innovation, technology and engineering equally. GenderInSITE participates in international conferences and forums and organizes workshops and other events to promote the importance of applying a gender lens to science, innovation, technology and engineering policies for development. It also produces testimonies, videos and policy documents that are disseminated globally, and through liaison officers in Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

TWAS fellows conference 2016

Some participants of the 2016 TWAS Research Grants Conference from Brazil, Ethiopia, Argentina, Indonesia, Nepal, Sudan, and Chile.

Some participants of the 2016 TWAS Research Grants Conference from Brazil, Ethiopia, Argentina, Indonesia, Nepal, Sudan, and Chile.

Photo: Paola Di Bella