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Entries tagged with ‘science’


The STEPS Centre ran a special session at the 9th Globelics Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 17 November, entitled Innovation for Social Inclusion and Sustainable Development.

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Center for Scientific Studies (CECS) in Chile

The Center for Scientific Studies (CECS) was founded in 1984 as the first independent scientific research organization in the history of Chile, and has become an important centre for science in Chile and Latin America. CECS was founded by Chilean theoretical physicists and biologists who had established careers abroad but chose to return to Chile to contribute their skills to the development of their country.

Investigations in the field of Glaciology and Climate Change at the CECS are notably innovative as well as their scientific expeditions to the Antarctic territory. To some extent the Center has arguably reshaped thinking about the role of science in development in Chile and Latin America. The CECS has incorporated the military force as a support to science research, while also holding a democratic view of society. The Center has contributed to the decentralization of the country due to the decision to move and settle down in Valdivia, a small city 800 km (to the south) from the capital city Santiago.

The Center is led by the physicist Claudio Bunster, who, together with his team have helped develop private-public partnerships in order to obtain financing for the institution. Scientists from Latin America and all around the world visit the Centre for their research. The Center has an internal organization based in horizontal relations and mutual support between researchers.

It has been an excellent example of an institution demonstrating that from the South of the world it is possible to produce science of a very first level. In recent years the Center has been involved in a new challenge of greater support and development of applied sciences, beyond their traditional strength in basic sciences. CECS research is funded by competitive funding from the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FONDECYT – Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico) and other national and international agencies.

Timeline entry contributed by Juan Manuel Fernández Urcelay

Source: CECS website

Identification of Minamata Disease

Minamata disease is one of the most severe diseases caused by environmental pollution in the world, which was first confirmed in 1956 in Minamata city, Japan, as caused by a heavy metal. However, The investigation was carried out energetically mainly by Kumamoto University, and in November 1956, the university reported that the disease is a certain type of heavy metal poisoning transmitted via fish and shellfish. However, due to limitations in knowledge and analytical technologies related to detecting environmental pollution at that time, the exact cause was confirmed only in 1967 as due to release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the chemical firm, Chisso Corporation, contaminating nearby Minamata Bay.

Local citizens were poisoned by eating contaminated fish and shellfish from the bay (where the mercury bioaccumulated). The widespread mercury poisening caused neurological symptoms including muscle weakness and damage to the senses, and even death, as well as congenital effects to fetuses, affecting thousands of citizens.

As a result of this tragedy as well as other severe diseases discovered to result from industrial pollution, the Government of Japan established strong environmental pollution regulations based on the ‘Basic Law for Environment Pollution Control’ (legislated: 3rd August 1967), as well as compensation schemes for the victims.

Timeline entry contributed by Nobuyuki Konuma

International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station (ISS) project is the first project involving international cooperation to construct a space station, and involving 15 countries, including the US, Russia, members of the EU, Japan and Canada. Astronauts from a number of countries have visited the space station, for example, Marcos Pontes from Brazil and Yi So-yeon from South Korea were the first astronauts to go into space from their respective countries. Construction of the ISS was started at the end of the 1990s and still continues.

This was an epoch marking event for space development in the world, because for the first time the US and Russia cooperated in space development. It can be said that the event was the opening of a new era of space development not for military use.

Although the station is still under construction, it has already been used for various purposes. It is expected that activities in the space station, such as research concerning health and environment, and observation of the earth yield valuable findings for our sustainable development. Success in this project also means the enhancement of our biosphere.

The ISS project and space technology represented by this project can be one of the key technologies for sustainable development in future. At the same time, it can cause controversial arguments from various points of view such as practically or ethically, for example: do the benefits derived from the ISS correspond to the huge investment?; or should we live apart from ‘Mother Earth’ even if it is technologically possible?

Space technology is vital for thinking about sustainability, monitoring, and information, both positively and negatively.

Timeline entry contributed by Hiroko Takuma

STEPS Centre Symposium ’09: Multimedia

The STEPS Centre’s Annual Symposium focussed on our New Manifesto project. We attempted to capture a flavour of the discussions by recording video interviews, taking photos, by bloggers  contributing  thier thoughts and by making speaker presentations available.

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Background paper / The Global Redistribution of Innovation: Lessons from China and India

By Adrian Ely and Ian Scoones

In the 40 years since the original “Sussex Manifesto”, the global landscape of science, technology and innovation has altered radically. The emergence of new centres of innovation in many of what were in 1970 grouped as “developing countries” has important implications not only for those interested in maintaining the competitiveness of the more established economic powers, but more importantly for addressing global challenges of poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.

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