importance of human and institutional capital
During the 20th century, tangible elements such as capital,
natural resources and labour were the driving force behind
economic development. Today, many development experts and
policy-makers see investing in science and technology as
a means for driving forward progress in development, despite
the lack of clear theoretical/quantitative links between
science and technology research and economic development.
Successful science and technology endeavour is a gradual
process that combines training, education, infrastructure,
continued investment, competence and experience. However,
this will only lead to economic growth if developing countries
have the capacity to absorb and use that science and technology.
The message is clear. In the new century, intangible
elements such as the capacity to generate and use scientific
and technological knowledge, access to information, and
human creativity will give nations a competitive edge. Developing
countries that lagged behind in their industrialisation
during the 20th century can overcome poverty and achieve
economic growth by successfully developing their human and
institutional resources. To achieve this, North-South science
and technology (S&T) cooperation for development is
The European Commission's
Knowledge has become an important and growing factor in
economic development and competitiveness and the tool to
overcome the imbalance in 'knowledge assets' between industrialised
and developing countries. Investing in knowledge generation
and use will prevent the exclusion of developing economies
from the knowledge society and all the negative impacts
associated with such exclusion.
In this context, it is important to emphasise European
Commissioner Paul Nielsen's remarks to the European Parliament:
"I agree that sustainable improvement of human well-being
now depends crucially on knowledge, its production, distribution,
ownership and wise application. Research carried out domestically
and internationally is vitally important for the production
of knowledge that a country can use for its development.
Smallness, remoteness or lack of a natural resource base,
factors which have traditionally been regarded as handicaps
to development, have been turned on their head. Knowledge
management, the capacity to apply information to social
and economic development, is emerging as a key factor.
The acceleration of technological development, that is
currently underpinning the world economy, offers developing
countries opportunities for technological leapfrogging.
However, without a minimum of domestic research and knowledge
capacity, a country cannot even import knowledge effectively.
An indigenous capacity is therefore a prerequisite for development."
Investment in human capital is one outcome of the European
Union (EU) S&T cooperation programmes - building science
and technology research capacity and helping developing
countries to create the human capital necessary for socially
and environmentally sustainable development, particularly
in a globalising world.
Emphasis has been given to the development of genuine
and durable EU-South partnerships, mobilising local scientists
and helping to strengthen the local RTD potential. By financing
quality research in scientific institutions, new North-North,
North-South and South-South partnerships in research have
been established and centres of excellence for training
young scientists created. Training has been carried out
as an integral part of the project work. Support frequently
allowed for a stay in a European university, while guaranteeing
the return of young researchers to their original institutions.
The benefit is reciprocal, as each partner in a training
programme emerges with a greater understanding of the others'
situations. In this way the 20 years of development partnership
between the EU and the developing countries produces real
outcomes. Similarly, such partnerships may help them to
define and choose development options, acquire indigenous
capacity to create human capital and appropriate institutions
and infrastructure for development, and to have a more equitable
say in international affairs.
Through the Doha and Monterrey processes, the EU has committed
itself to supporting sustainable and equitable development
in developing countries(1), thus reaffirming
its leading international role. Development is a key horizontal
issue throughout the Doha Declaration _ including areas
of market access, the commitments made in trade?related
assistance and capacity building, as well as special and
differential treatment of developing countries.
Ten years after Rio, the EU will seek to achieve four
strategic objectives(2) through the
2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development:
- increased global equity and an effective
partnership for sustainable development;
- better integration and coherence
at the international level;
- adoption of environment and development targets
to revitalise and sharpen the political commitment; and
- more effective action at national level,
and international monitoring.
Achieving these objectives necessitates considerable
investments in human and institutional resources, mobilising
all available sources of support and drawing on knowledge-based
approaches to training and innovative organisation.