entific and technical conferences. Other efforts include the American Society for Mechanical Engineers' partnership with the Mechanical Engineering Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences to promote the application of environmental and energy-related technologies to establish a technology transfer mechanism between the two organizations.

  • Private sector. A number of private sector organizations also provide assistance to scientists in developing countries. This assistance is usually indirect, through the financial support of international NGOs such as the Third World Academy of Sciences and ICSU.

Many of the problems cited above in this section are exacerbated by a lack of effective organizational structures or institutional mechanisms for involving scientists within developing countries in the decision-making process regarding scientific research, much less data access issues. However, foreign aid agencies in the developed countries and intergovernmental development organizations are known not to involve scientists in their decision-making process either. For example, U.N. funding agencies respond almost exclusively to requests from the foreign ministries of member countries. The foreign ministries in developing countries almost never utilize scientists in decisions. The result is a dearth of funding applications for scientific infrastructure capacity building, which is essential not only to support indigenous scientific research efforts, but also to encourage economic development. An analogous situation is evolving in USAID, where science once flourished, but where the involvement of scientists in internal planning and funding decisions is eroding rapidly.

Of course, some success stories do exist. For example, Vietnam, concerned about environmental pollution as well as the need to build biotechnology capacity, arranged for scientists at many levels to collaborate in developing a national plan in microbiology and biotechnology infrastructure capacity building for submission to the Global Environment Facility of the U.N. through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

With regard to improving access to scientific data in developing countries, the committee makes the following recommendations:

  • Scientists in developing countries should be encouraged to organize to promote the policy of full and open access to scientific data in their own countries, as well as to make their data available internationally.
  • Foreign aid agencies should (i) make available to individual scientists in developing countries more direct, peer-reviewed grants that include support for access to data, and (ii) facilitate the involvement of scientists in such nations in their own countries' capacity-building initiatives, research policy decisions, and national database construction efforts.


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