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The European Research Area needs to take account of the Developing Countries and the Millennium Development Goals

Scientists and policy makers are meeting in Lisbon the 8-10 October to discuss “The future of science and technology in Europe”.

A group of influential life scientists, about half of whom are from developing countries, have set up European Action on Global Life Sciences (EAGLES). They are concerned that European life sciences are not using their potential to help solve the problems of food, health and environment faced by the poor in the developing countries. Europe, with its huge scientific power to fight diseases and improve food production should have more focus on global health problems such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, Chronic and Tropical diseases and help improve and stabilise agricultural production in the developing world.

Unfortunately global development has been given a very low priority in the 7th Framework Programme. It is seen as a step backwards that the current Framework Programme did not dedicate a specific budget for international cooperation. The new vision is to open up all areas of the Framework Programme to international collaboration, but without a dedicated programme the poor and weak countries which have the biggest health and agricultural problems to solve will have no chance in the competition for resources.

The “public consultation process” preceding the meeting in Lisbon did not give opportunities to express specific concerns, but was conducted as a pre defined questionnaire with a quantitative ranking of priorities. EAGLES was one of many organisations which could not respond on this consultation due to its narrow pre defined questions. We fear that wrong conclusions could be drawn from this process at the meeting in Lisbon.

We note that there is no section in the programme of the conference for discussion of the role of science in promoting development in the Third World, and no reference to the role of European science in achieving the Millennium Development Goals

A much stronger dialogue is required in which the needs, the opinions and the voices of the emerging and developing countries can be clearly identified, heard and heeded. EAGLES is a platform for achieving this dialogue between scientists from the developing countries and European politicians, policy makers, members of the media and other leaders of public opinion.

Not only scientists but many citizens of European countries believe that Europe has a duty to find solutions for poverty, hunger, thirst, disease and environmental degradation in the developing countries. “A world divided cannot stand; humanity cannot survive partly rich and mostly poor” (Ismail Serageldin, Chairman of EAGLES)

Jens Degett | alfa
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