Research and innovation play an important part in international cooperation

Article, 05.06.2013

Research and technological, social and political innovation play an important part in Switzerland's international cooperation to reduce poverty and global risks. At a joint event organised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (CRPDC) of the The Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences researchers presented innovative products that they have developed together with research partners from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

A spectography method to test soil quality, measures to improve standards of sanitation in slums, ways of reducing CO2 emissions in herds, measures to avoid damage to agricultural land by elephants and sensors to locate water in dry areas - these were some of the innovations presented by the SDC and the CRPDC at the Research Fair in Bern today. They underlined the way in which research in and with developing and transitional countries can contribute to the solution of development problems.

«For us, in international cooperation, innovation is not a goal in itself but a means of achieving the transition to development pathways that are more sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms,» said SDC director Martin Dahinden at the event in Bern. Research and innovation are centrally important for affluent as well as for poorer countries. Every year the SDC invests about CHF 50 million in research.

As part of its international cooperation for the period 2013-2016, the SDC will focus on research, with a stronger emphasis on the solution of global problems and making available global public goods in developing countries. In its multilateral activity in international agricultural research, the SDC supports research activities designed to reduce poverty and hunger, to improve health and nutrition and to promote the sustainable use of natural resources.

Cooperation with the Swiss National Fund

The Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d Programme) is a new vehicle for promoting research developed by the SDC and the Swiss National Fund. Over the next 10 years, the SDC will invest CHF 72 million in the r4d programme.   This programme establishes long-term thematic research objectives to respond to urgent current and future political problems in areas where Switzerland possesses research competence. The research modules for research partnerships in and with developing countries concern the following thematic areas: social conflicts, employment, food security, eco-systems and public health. Calls for tenders in the areas of food security and eco-systems were launched on 28 May 2013.

The high level of research competence and capacity for innovation in Switzerland is a trump card not only for this country. Swiss competence centres such as the federal institutes of technology, universities, polytechnics, the Swiss Tropical Medicine and Public Health Institute and the Graduate Institute for International Studies and Development in Geneva make a major contribution to global sustainable development thanks to their knowledge and innovation and their global network of contacts.

Today's Research Fair, in which about 20 projects and innovations were presented, serves as a platform for the SDC and the CRPDC for exchanges between representatives of development cooperation and the research community. Regular exchanges also take place within the international development programmes.

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