Endorsed in November 2021

1. Where STEPAN comes from

STEPAN, the Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation Policy Asia and the Pacific Network, is an official Asia-wide network of people and institutions involved in research and training support for national science and technology (SETI) policy and management. STEPAN was established in May 1988 as a response to an urgent developmental need to strengthen science and technology (SETI) policy formulation and strategic management of publicly funded research in developing nations in Asia.

UNESCO Jakarta as the Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific organized a Regional Experts consultation “Towards a Regional SETI (Science Engineering Technology Innovation) Support Mechanism for Asia and the Pacific Region, Core support strategy for SETI Priorities and Implementation Means” held on 1 September 2020.

The consultation resulted in a regional SETI strategy* endorsed by the participating experts and identifying the following nine strategic directions for the region:

1. Raising multi-level awareness of the importance of science and SETI;

2. Promoting technopreneurship and SETI by supporting human resource development and by assisting policy formulation;

3. Assisting private-public multi-stakeholders’ collaboration and encouraging technology transfer through promotion of science technoparks and innovation incubators or similar and grassroots innovation;

4. Promoting and encouraging access of science to all with Open Science movement, scientific and ethical aspects of AI and inclusiveness of science, tackling the regional digital divide in particular for youth, girls and women;

5. Promoting science communication and citizen science;

6. Promoting science for governance;

7. Promoting local and indigenous knowledge systems (LINKS) in particular for a science-based solution to changing environments;

8. Supporting engineering institutions qualification in the region;

9. Supporting South-South cooperation.

In particular, the strategy identified STEPAN as the umbrella to support the regional steering mechanism to implement the regional strategy and strengthen institutional and human capacity in developing and implementing effective, inclusive science policies.

In practical terms, UNESCO Jakarta’s Policy Capacity Building Programme, mobilising the whole potential of UNESCO field offices (FOs), network of Category 1 and 2 centres and UNESCO chairs, aligned with UNESCO strategy document, global agreements and UN reform, focuses to create synergies, result-based management and cost-effectiveness. Moreover, there is a strong demand in the Asia Pacific region to strengthen institutional and human capacity to develop and implement effective, inclusive, and “open” science policies.

2. Mission, Vision and Objectives of STEPAN

The vision of STEPAN is that Member States’ SETI capacity, built on high quality educational, research institutions as well as the understanding of market and society relies on efficient SETI policies. 

Past UNESCO projects have contributed to strengthening this region’s SETI foundation through institutional capacity building, training for young researchers and professionals, as well as strengthening science networks in the region. Building on these achievements, the mission of STEPAN is to assist member countries to target and utilize their sometimes scarce and limited SETI resources most effectively towards national development goals and SDGs in a gender transformative and responsive way.

Science and Technology policy formulation should be nationally specific and should be “customized” to individual member state. The STEPAN activities in the SETI policy formulation and implementation are planned and implemented for member states in Asia and the Pacific region.

The primary objectives of the STEPAN network are to support more effective application of science and technology to the development needs throughout Asia and the Pacific Region especially for developing countries; to promote a general climate for understanding, acceptance and development of SETI policy capabilities throughout the region as well as to promote targeted SETI policy upgrading activities to meet the specific needs of member countries; and to support the upgrading of resources critical to SETI policy-makers as well as to enhance the development of management information systems and other related services.

The existence of STEPAN is important as it provides an ‘umbrella’ policy level network to all other UNESCO science networks. As such STEPAN provides a conduit for raising issues on other network agenda to the senior policy levels of government, e.g.: information technology and crossing the digital divide (communications and informatics networks); commercialization of traditional knowledge and medicines (chemistry of natural products), gender etc.

STEPAN therefore focuses on activities that will make the maximum difference: providing SETI management information to enhance the quality of national decision making, and contributing to the understanding of policies and practices that will allow national and regional benefits from public investments in SETI to be maximized through effective and informed management practice. Thus the ‘policy’ focus of STEPAN is on government-induced strategies, incentives or constraints across the region that set the context for management of SETI to achieve desired ends, for example, in building accessible information systems, offering taxation incentives for the performance of industrial R&D, and accountability constraints on research organizations.

STEPAN contributes to its Mission by providing assistance to individual countries in formulating research and training programs for developing technology policy strategies. Target areas include information management, research commercialization and national direction setting. The network also undertakes training in human resource development activities and assists member countries in organizing international workshops and research programs. STEPAN has placed a strong emphasis on developing and utilizing expert capabilities within the region, as well as on collaboration with other relevant regional organizations.

At the 211th Executive Board, member states agreed on the Draft Medium-Term Strategy for 2022-2029 (41 C/4) and Draft Programme and Budget for 2022-2025 (41 C/5) (211 EX/18.I** 41/C5 (2022-2025)*** as follows for activities related to SETI and STEPAN:

Strategic Objective 1: Ensure quality equitable and inclusive education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, in order, inter alia, to reduce inequalities and promote learning and creative societies, particularly in digital era.

●     Outcome 1: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

○  Output 1.SC6 Institutional and human capacities strengthened in STEM education in a gender transformative manner for sustainable development.

Strategic Objective 2: Work towards sustainable societies and protecting the environment through the promotion of science, technology, innovation and the natural heritage

●     Outcome 3: Enhance knowledge for climate action, biodiversity, water and ocean management, and disaster risk reduction

○  Output 3.SC3 SIDS empowered with strengthened capacities in UNESCO fields of expertise to better address their specific challenges

●     Outcome 4: Advance international cooperation in science, technology and innovation

○  Output 4.SC4 Member States capacities strengthened to improve STI policies, access to scientific and technological advancements and enhance knowledge sharing, including through Open Science

○  Output 4.SC5 Institutional and human capacities in basic sciences, technology and research innovation and engineering enhanced to advance knowledge for sustainable development. 

3. Areas for Prioritization in the STEPAN Action Plan

The following issues are identified and established at STEPAN revival meeting on 16-17 March 2021 as priority issues/themes for STEPAN 2021-2025 action plan. Taking into account both UNESCO Medium-term strategy (41/C4) and UNESCO “Core support strategy for SETI Priorities and Implementation Means in Asia and the Pacific”, three thrusts have been identified as thrusts of STEPAN action plan (2021-2025).

Thrust 1 (linked to Output 4.SC4): SETI Governance

STEPAN will work with relevant UNESCO “Category 2 Centres and UNESCO Chairs, in designing standard setting-instruments for roadmaps and policies development in SETI for SDGs, supporting the development and implementation of new frameworks and mission-oriented policies that better contribute to SDGs, improving SETI governance and building appropriate national and regional SETI infrastructures, capabilities and resources”. (41 C/5, volume 2).

STEPAN will focus in particular on the following:

● Open Science implementation.

● Recommendation to ensure robust policies are in place around misconduct.

● Building an institutional culture of academic integrity and encouraging honour codes.

● Advocacy for data collection and analysis for SETI policy instruments (GO->SPIN).

Thrust 2 (linked with output 4.SC5): SETI Cooperation and Collaboration for SDGs technologies

As one lesson learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, STEPAN will support interdisciplinary work to design holistic sustainable solutions and to develop the path for efficient strategy to fill the gap for the shortage of skills in fields that are driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

STEPAN will focus in particular on strengthening: 

●     SDGs Technologies which include Entrepreneurship.

●     Digital literacy for innovation.

●     Reform and standardization of engineering education for enhanced capacity in Engineering.

Thrust 3 (linked with output 1.SC6): Supporting multi-spectrum STEM Capacity Building for enhanced science services to society

STEPAN will contribute to promote formal and non-formal education in the fields of STEM/STEAM including digital skills and encouraging girls and young women’s participation. This will advise necessary reform for efficient education systems to produce an adequately skilled workforce and citizens in an increasingly tech-based and innovation-driven market and world.

STEPAN will focus in particular on:

● Promoting citizen science.

● Promoting science communication with science museums and science centres.

3.1 SETI Governance
3.1.1 Open Science implementation mechanism

Through the dialogue opened at the occasion of the drafting of UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science adopted to be submitted on 15in November 2021, it was made clear in the region the challenges remained in the implementation mechanisms of Open Science with the need for support to develop a framework, its specific medium for adoption and roadmap to shift to inclusive Open Science. Some specific considerations were highlighted:

o Enhance common understanding of open science and the effectiveness of public policy and investment to promote open science

o Improve the legal and institutional system of producing, managing, sharing, and utilizing the results of R&D in a reliable and responsible manner

o Promote sharing of best knowledge management practices, open science policy information, and related data collected and analysed among member states in the Asian-Pacific Region

o Enhance regional and cross-border cooperation on open science and digital transition in the Asia-Pacific Region

Figure 1 and 2. Components of Open Science and Recommended concurrent action areas for Open Science Implementation (UNESCO, 2021)*

3.1.2 Research integrity and ethics

Research integrity covering academic, public and private entities defines the system of ethical responsibilities that govern our research, education, and technology related activities. It is required to raise the understanding of the academic reliability and honesty that cultivate integrity in academic communities throughout the world. The strategies to enhance academic integrity, honesty, and responsibility include several recommendations:

● Develop programmes to promote a culture of research integrity within education organisations and research institutes and analyse gaps of academic integrity.

● Ensure best practice and policies in research integrity through building an institutional culture of integrity and encouraging honour codes

3.2 SDGs technologies
3.2.1 SETI for SDGs Action Planning

There are only nine years to 2030, and the SDGs targets are not closed to be achieved. Therefore, the need for Technologies and Innovations, including grassroot innovation, low-cost appropriate but also emerging technologies are more than needed to be developed and shared. Hence, it is required to raise the understanding of effective utilization of science and technology to achieve the SDGs as well as to strengthen SETI policy implementation capacity of multi-level and multi-stakeholders through regional collaboration and cooperation.

o Align SDGs with national development plans and national STI plans and connect all key actors from three different fields for effective STI utilization for achieving SDGs.

o Identify key actors and major policy initiatives of each member state in STI for SDGs governance.

o Share member states’ strategic fields to focus on or specific SDG goals with priorities in the national contexts and discuss together how to mobilize effectively limited STI resources.

o Enhance the components of National Innovation System throughout the process of information sharing and discussion for the STI for SDGs action planning, including R&D, higher education, MSMEs or technology transfer, depending on the unique context of each member state.

o Seek collaboration with regional and international institutions for the scale-up of projects and funding of STI for SDGs road mapping.

3.2.2 Impacts of rapid technology development and emerging issues for achieving SDGs

Technologies are like swords with double edges, positive and negative impacts. Even when technology is designed with a good purpose and sophisticated planning, there are often unintended consequences during its application and implementation.

The benefits of newly developed technologies are not equal to all countries. In fact, the rapid technology development has increased inequality between countries over the last two centuries (UNCTAD, 2021, Technology and Innovation Report 2021). From the perspective of national government, discourses on emerging technologies are necessary in order for countries to take advantage of the full potentials of emerging technologies and the benefits of rapid development of technology and minimize possible negative impacts in advance.

o deliver the most relevant emerging technologies and SETI issues with a great impact on each country

o share potential opportunities and challenges that each member country is expecting and experiencing.

o create a common framework to analyse the impacts of emerging technologies and related emerging issues for achieving the SDGs and produce reports with policy implications on the topic throughout the collaborative discussions and collections of cases of each country.

3.3 Monitoring and nurturing SETI national and regional culture
3.3.1 Promotion of citizen science

o Continue raising awareness of science services to society and promote the science-policy-society interface.

o Promote STEM education to contribute to SDG 4: Quality of Education

o Promote online, broad-based learning through North-South networking, including virtual and digital aspects of cooperation.

3.3.2 Promoting science communication with science museums and science centres

o Promote a research network for improving research-based higher education.

o Collaborate among Asia Pacific Science Centres and Museums to serve as effective and meaningful agents towards achieving the SDGs.

o Share good practices on effective science communication that can have an impact on research and technology policy through STEPAN platform

STEPAN and UNESCO will also continue emphasizing the following aspects of SETI:

● Gender equity and equality in SETI.

● Local and Indigenous knowledge in SETI.

● Open Science core values and guiding principles*.

● SETI context specific to Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

4. Strategy and Modalities

Strategy and Modalities for implementing the activities of STEPAN projects include:

● Building cooperative environment of member states in AP region to strengthen the regional network through regional coordination board meetings by exchanging information regularly through organising STEPAN e-newsletters and website and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram);

● Organizing Regional seminars (virtually or in person) on areas which identified by STEPAN secretariat and National Focal Points;

● Mobilizing member state capacities, and encouraging bi- or multi-lateral collaboration with outside STEPAN;

● Providing SETI policy consultancies; and

● Assisting Research and Analytical studies.

5. Upcoming activities and actions for the period 2021-2025
5.1 Current and future activities for the period 2021-2025

Information and communication:

  o STEPAN Website hosting.

  o STEPAN e-Newsletter annually.

  o Expansion of the network to the whole Asia-Pacific region.

National level consultation missions:

  o GO-SPIN Cambodia (2021).

  o Timor-Leste Science and Maths in Primary Education baseline study.

  o Timor-Leste Study on Indigenous Plant Species for Traditional Tais.

● International activities and capacity building:

  o Collaboration with ESCAP-APCTT: Support for SDGs Ready Appropriate Technologies and Innovations in Asia and the Pacific

  o Mapping and Training for Women in SETI in Asia and the Pacific

  o STEM online education in Asia and the Pacific Masterclass training

  o STEM Global Outlook survey in the region

5.2 Cooperation with Agencies

●   ASEAN Secretariat, Science and Technology Division 

●   ESCAP – APCTT: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific- Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology

●   AEESEAP: Association for Engineering Education in Southeast Asia and the Pacific

●   AASSA: The Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia

6. Funding
6.1 Secured Funding Sources

●  UNESCO Regular Program budget of Biennium 2022 and 2023 for SETI policy in ASIA and the Pacific: USD *tbc

6.2 Funding to be sought / Proposal

● Consider developing/submitting a proposal to UNIATT for STI SDG road-mapping.

● Consider developing/submitting a proposal for Islamic Development Bank

Member State Pledge(s)

“Let’s flock together under STEPAN umbrella to work beyond boundaries to realize National, Regional and Global Agendas through comprehensive SETI “

With this pledge, we commit our expertise, our networks and to work together under the umbrella of STEPAN under the following areas which of each will be coordinated with a vice-chair:

• Science Centres / Museums as impactful agencies to promote SETI

• To promote STEM education to contribute to SDG 4; Quality of Education

• To promote STEM festival and fair

• To promote National Innovation systems

• Achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through initiatives aligned with the SETI policy

• Regional collaborations for science-oriented development and science-based solutions to pressing issues

• To promote Green economy, Modernization of Higher Education, Techno Parks, Development of innovations and IT

• To promote industry and science cooperation; support innovation activities; increase science, technology, research and development financing up to 2% of GDP level, build a science and technology cluster and park

• International Networks in STI and entrepreneurial development

The STEPAN working areas will contribute to the achievement of agenda 2030 and the 17 SDGs.”