South-South Cooperation

UN Tech Bank for LDCs, TWAS and ICGEB PACTs programme

The UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, TWAS and ICGEB have launched a programme to build scientific development in the LDCs

Through an ambitious programme targeted at scientists from least developed countries (LDCs), the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, TWAS and ICGEB pave the way to enhance the scientific competences of early-career researchers and regulators in countries with low socioeconomic development.

PACTS was launched on 20 January 2021 in GEBZE and TRIESTE
Scientific skills and personal engagement alone are not enough to develop a career in science, especially in developing countries. Assets to build high-quality education and achieve meaningful results include learning from experienced researchers to guide scientific growth and creating a collaborative network for long-term support and cooperation.

These and other resources are embedded in a far-reaching collaboration programme endorsed by the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).

The programme agreement called PACTs (ProgrAmme of CollaboraTions with LDCs) offers early-career scientists from the 46 least developed countries (LDCs), who are aged 45 or under, exchange visits of up to 6-months at the ICGEB laboratories in Trieste (Italy), New Delhi (India) and Cape Town (South Africa). Scientists will be working in the fields of biomedicine, biotechnology and agriculture. It will also include a third scheme to provide training in biotechnology policy and regulatory science by ICGEB experts.

TWAS is extremely eager to initiate this new programme solely dedicated to LDCs, with research in biotech holding centre stage,” said TWAS Executive Director Romain Murenzi. “We believe that the project and the partnership with UN Technology Bank and ICGEB can be extremely beneficial to multiple areas of development.”

The least developed countries are very low-income countries with vulnerable economies and severe challenges that impede sustainable development, whose population confront daily with hardship and long-term impediments to economic, social and scientific growth. A major goal of PACTs would be changing this trend towards sustainable development.

Dr Lawrence Banks, ICGEB Director-General affirms: “ICGEB is very excited about this collaboration with UN Technology Bank and TWAS where we will be working together to bring research and training in biotechnology to LDCs. This will ensure that the fruits of modern biotechnology can reach countries where it is most needed and thereby directly contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

 “The collaboration with ICGEB and TWAS presents an opportunity to enhance the scientific competencies of at least 40 scientists across the LDCs in biotechnology through a combination of specialist training in relevant soft skills and direct research funding. This will increase LDC capacities in biotechnology policy and regulatory requirements,” said Mr Joshua Setipa, Managing Director of UN Technology Bank. “The current COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for countries to strengthen their biotechnology capabilities and contribute to the strengthening of health systems and towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

The PACTs agreement will last five years: after the first three years of fellow selection and awards, the project will continue for other two years with the monitoring and final evaluation phase, during which Fellows may also apply for ICGEB Early Return Career Grants to obtain seed funding for their research upon their return to their home countries.

The programme follows a new modality of funding called UN-UN Interagency Agreement, whereby management costs are reduced compared to other similar initiatives.

PACTs meets the mission shared by the three Partners: to strengthen science and technology in developing countries; to promote networking among researchers and research institutions, and to help nations identify and use appropriate technologies to transform their economies and improve livelihoods.

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