Science, technology and innovation can be powerful determinants and enablers of economic development, educational programmes and protection of the environment. This view is shared by the ASEAN Leaders who have recognised science and technology (S&T) as a key factor in sustaining economic growth, enhancing community well-being and promoting integration in ASEAN. The Leaders have envisioned that by 2020 that ASEAN will be technology competitive, competent in strategic and enabling technologies, with an adequate pool of technologically qualified and trained manpower, and strong networks of scientific and technological institution and centres of excellence.
To push forward to build a strong S&T base for ASEAN as a single integrated economy, and to ensure ASEAN to remain globally competitive, ASEAN Member Countries have to move up the technology ladder and focus on enhancing their capability for technological innovation in many areas. This task, however, is not easy as ASEAN, a grouping of ten developing countries with great variance in the level of science and technology capability, has to move the cooperation forward more vigourusly and promote deeper integration. ASEAN must also promote greater awareness of its people of the S&T activities and its roles and contributions towards sustainable economic development and provide ways and means to innovate. The involvement of specific elements in ASEAN community such as private sector in S&T undertakings, especially in research and technology development and commercialisation of technologies must also be promoted.
To ensure that the S&T cooperation in ASEAN remains relevant and supportive to the directives of the ASEAN Leaders and S&T Ministers, a series of Plans of Action in Science and Technology have been developed since the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST) was established in 1978. The most recent Plan: The Action Plan of Action on Science and Technology (APAST) 2007-2011 was endorsed by the ASEAN S&T Ministers in February 2007. The Plan was developed taking into account the various directives and initiative of the ASEAN Leaders (e.g. Vientiane Action Programme), and S&T Ministers, Committee on Science and Technology (COST) and the national S&T plans in the ASEAN Member Countries. The Plan, which identifies 6 thrusts and 24 supporting actions, essentially provides appropriate guidelines for identification and formulation of programmes and projects to achieve better coordination and cooperation to strengthen the capabilities of S&T in ASEAN.
The current S&T cooperation in ASEAN focuses on nine programme areas, namely (i) food science and technology (ii) biotechnology, (iii) meteorology and geophysics, (iv) marine science and technology, (v) non-conventional energy research, (vi) microelectronics and information technology, (vii) material science and technology, (viii) space technology and applications, and (ix) S&T infrastructure and resources development. To coordinate and implement activities in each area, a Sub-Committee is established.
The organisational chart of ASEAN S&T cooperation is shown as follows:
of Science and Technology Cooperation
ABAPAST: Advisory Body on ASEAN Plan of Action on Science and Technology
ABASF: Advisory Body of the ASEAN Science Fund
AMMST: ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Science & Technology
ASEAN-China JSTC: Joint Science and Technology Committee
ASEAN-India WGST: Working Group on Science and Technology
ASEAN-Russia WGST: Working Group on Science and Technology
ASEAN-EC JCCSCST: Joint Cooperation Committee Sub-Committee on Science and Technology
ASEAN COST+3: Committee on Science and Technology Plus Three
COST: Committee on Science and Technology
SCB: Sub-Committee on Biotechnology
SCFST: Sub-Committee on Food Science and Technology
SCIRD: Sub-Committee on Infrastructure and Resources Development
SCMG: Sub-Committee on Meteorology and Geophysics
SCMIT: Sub-Committee on Microelectronics and Information Technology
SCMSAT: Sub-Committee on Marine Science and Technology
SCMST: Sub-Committee on Material Science and Technology
SCNCER: Sub-Committee on Non-Conventional Energy Research
SCOSA: Sub-Committee on Space Technology and Applications
To provide better services to ASEAN public and government agencies in the fields of meteorology and seismology, two ASEAN centers have been established, they are ASEAN Specialised Meteorology Center (ASMC) and ASEAN Earthquake Information Center (AEIC).
ASEAN is actively pursuing close cooperation in S&T with its Dialogue Partners and Sectoral Dialogue Partner. Several permanent bodies have been established with ASEAN Dialogue Partners such as China, India, EU and Russia, and also with the Plus Three countries. Regular meetings among S&T officials from ASEAN and Dialogue Partners are convened to promote closer cooperation. In addition, ASEAN also continues to forge closely collaboration in S&T with international organisations such as UNESCO and WMO.
To further promote the awareness of public to S&T cooperation in ASEAN, and to enhance the interaction between scientific communities, policy makers, industries and manufacturer associations, ASEAN organises regular S&T events namely ASEAN Food Conference (AFC) and ASEAN Science and Technology Week (ASTW). The outcomes of research works undertaken by ASEAN scientists and researchers are also published regularly in the ASEAN Journal of S&T for Development (AJSTD). From time to time, ASEAN also issues various publications.
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