Thursday, March 16, 2017

Innovating for the global commons: multilateral collaboration in a polycentric world

International collaboration in science and innovation presents its own challenges. Illustration: Rawpixel

Dr. Keith Smith of the Imperial College has published a paper on international collaboration in science, technology and innovation in meeting global challenges.

The paper is called "Innovating for the global commons: multilateral collaboration in a polycentric world" and is published in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Volume 33, Number 1, 2017.

Keith Smith argues that an effective innovation effort for ‘global challenges’ must be multilateral, because the outcomes will be globally shared, highly uncertain, and very large-scale.

He writes:
"At present we lack a framework for organizing such multilateral collaboration. Global challenges relate to the consumption of ‘common-pool’ or ‘common property’ resources.

It is often held that such resources involve a ‘tragedy of the commons’ for which the proposed solutions are usually full state control or privatization. However, the late Elinor Ostrom argued that the state/market approach to the commons is flawed conceptually and empirically.

In multiple studies she showed that resources are often managed collectively through negotiation and collaboration among ‘polycentric’ agents."

The paper aims to outline the conceptual approach, to suggest that it can be scaled up to the world level as an approach to the global challenges, and to propose an agenda for research on major innovation challenges involved.

Download: "Innovating for the global commons: multilateral collaboration in a polycentric world".

OECD is preparing a follow up to STIG

The OECD is discussing a possible follow up project to STIG and other relevant activites on global challenges in the organisation.

The Committe for Scientific and Technological Policy and the GSF  will arrange a workshop in Paris on March 22 on international cooperation in science, technology and inniovation to advance knowlege and address grand challenges.

The workshop will look at
  • Effective models for funding international partnerships in STI
  • Operationalising international co-operation in research and innovation (Public research institutions, specialised centres of excellence, global research networks and platforms)
  • Sharing information and data on research agendas

Monday, May 19, 2014

The governance of scientific assessment in the context of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The German Development Institute has  published a discussion paper from Yulia Yamineva on the IPCC and its governance of scientific assessment. Inspired by the STIG project, it draws lessons for international co-operation in science, technology and innovation.

You may download it free of charge here! 


Bonn Workshop On STI for Global Challenges

Group on Earth Observations, the Univesity of Bonn and BLB will arrange a workshop  in Bonn on May 21 2014 on how to respond to the grand challenges.

The idea is to plan a comparative study on global funding of science, technology and innovation, focusing on the GEO and Future Earth initiatives and the topic of water.

More information here!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Multilateral Collaboration and Innovation for the Global Commons

As a follow up to the OECD STIG project on governance of research and innovation cooperation for global challenges, Dr. Keith Smith of Imperial College has prepared a paper on multinational collaboration.

Photo: Thorsten Schmitt,

We hope the document can provide input to the important discussion on how the the worlds of policy making, science and industrial innovation can contribute in the face of urgent global challenges. The paper is part of the efforts of the informal Beyond Stig network.

Below find a summary and a link to the full document. Please feel free to add your own comments!

Multilateral collaboration and innovation for the global commons: polycentric governance in a heteropolar world

By Dr. Keith Smith

The ‘grand challenges’ posed by climate change, food security, ocean ecologies, epidemic disaease and urban environments are so large that they will soon dominate policy thinking globally.

Innovation is central to solving these problems, because they are shaped by incumbent technologies that must be changed.

Lack of framework

But innovation policy initiatives must be multilateral, because the outcomes will be globally shared, and the resources needed will be great.  We lack a framework for thinking about how such collaboration might be organised. 

Innovative solutions would in effect provide global public goods. However the usual approach to public good provision fails at the world scale because there is no supranational or hegemonic power that can undertake the roles played by states at the national level.

Monday, June 17, 2013

G8 Science Ministers Propose Collaboration on Global Challenges

The G8 ministers of science argues that the G8 countires should collaborate on science for global challenges.

This is the official summary:

"G8 science ministers met in London on 12 June 2013 with presidents of their respective national science academies, as part of the UK’s G8 Presidency. They discussed how their nations could improve the transparency, coherence and coordination of global scientific research to address global challenges and maximise the social and economic benefits of research.
The statement proposes new areas for collaboration and agreement for the G8 to consider. These include:
  • global challenges
  • global research infrastructure
  • open scientific research data
  • increasing access to the peer-reviewed, published results of scientific research" has more.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Meeting the global challenges – international funding of water activities (GEOSS, Future Earth)

Woman with Earth globe (Photo: Stock Foundry)
In this post Bente Lilja Bye presents a comparative study of international funding mechanisms through 3 or more different research systems. Note that the project is looking for an additional US partner.

By Guest Writer Bente Lilja Bye,

Why – Background

Solving the global challenges requires resources for science, technology and innovations as well as infrastructure and capacity building. An important element of this is Earth observations. 

Funding of the necessary Earth observations requires international cooperation. This particular task is included in the GEOSS work plan as ID-05 Catalyzing resources for GEOSS implementation. 

OECD adressed the same challenge in its Meeting Global Challenges through Better Governance. The issue of funding was discussed at a general level, but the (now informal) Working group finds it necessary to be more concrete in order to be able to do a more detailed analysis enabling more actionable advise.

An alliance of global programs, ICSU and IGFA/Belmont Forum and others, includes the issue of cooperation on funding in their 10-year Future Earth program.

The study is also a combined continuation of the activities in the GEO Work Plan's ID-05 Catalyzing resources for GEOSS implementation and WA-01 Integrated Water Information  (incl. Floods and Droughts).

What - Objectives (Goal – subgoal)

The main objective is to identify barriers hindering effective international funding. In particular address challenges due to the multidisciplinary character of projects on global challenges. Based on practical experiences in selected sectors/areas (water) provide advise and possible avenues leading to more effective cooperation on funding global challenges.