Sustainability goals cannot be reached without North-South cooperation
Switzerland's foreign policy should pay more attention to research on global change in order to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, says the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) of the Academy of Science. Owing to many years of experience in North-South research, Switzerland is ideally placed to promote the development of research skills in the Global South and thus to help foster change on the ground.
Developing and emerging countries generally lack adequate capacity and trained experts to negotiate and steer development towards sustainability. In addition, basic data and information are rarely available. Thanks to long-standing internationally recognized research partnerships with countries of the Global South, Swiss institutions can make a decisive contribution. Through this commitment, the Swiss research community not only acquires excellent insights, but also can actively support debates on urgent global challenges. As a small, globally interconnected country, it is in Switzerland’s interest to play an active role in shaping future changes.
Switzerland lacks targeted sustainability research
To achieve this goal, Switzerland must align its policy more coherently with the Sustainable Development Goals and and adopt a more integrated and holistic way of thinking. This requires the participation of civil society and business leadership, as well as a research agenda fully focused on sustainability. According to the KFPE, Switzerland has a lot of catching up to do. The European research program Horizon, for example, is investing 60 percent of its budget in projects that pursue the Agenda 2030 sustainability goals.
Via the launch of two events, KFPE is bringing about dialogue on sustainability research and Switzerland's commitment to the 2030 Agenda: The "Without Research No Sustainability" event will take place on November 21st, while the international high-level conference "Leveraging Research Partnerships for Global Challenges " will be held on November 22nd. Both events will seek to identify new roles and activities for science and research partnerships to support the 2030 Agenda. Both events are open to the public:
The topical issue of ‘research’ is underpinned by two other events held in Bern. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) are holding the International Research for Development Funders Forum on the 20th and 21st of November. Around 20 funding institutions will discuss new approaches and policies in the design and promotion of research for global sustainable development. On November 23rd, SUDAC program (swissuniversities Development and Cooperation Network) participants will discuss their experiences. These two events are targeted at an expert audience only.
A 20-years guide to transboundary research partnerships
In the 1990s, researchers from the Global South asked the KFPE to develop guidelines for a fairer more equitable impact-oriented partnership. Partners in poorer countries should not only serve as data providers, but also benefit from cooperation with OECD countries. The first version of the guidelines was published in 1998. Since then, KFPE’s 11 revised principles, which were updated in 2012, have been recommended throughout Europe. In 2003 - following the analysis of 65 different codes of conducts in research - the EU endorsed the KFPE’s 11 principles as best practice. A number of national and international research programs require or recommend compliance with these principles. These include the Volkswagen Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, as well as the The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Swiss National Science Foundation.