7332 Scientific Diasporas as Drivers of Science and Technology for Home Country Development

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 10:00 AM
Room 121 (VCC West Building)
Gabriela Tejada , United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Lausanne, Switzerland
The increase in international migration and the complexity of its flows have intensified researchers’ and policy makers’ determination to minimize the negative effects and to maximize the positive impact of migration. In the case of skilled mobility, the world knowledge gap highlights the need to find alternative ways to circumvent the exodus of scientists and skilled professionals by promoting the potential of scientific diasporas to contribute to the development of their countries of origin.

The benefits that skilled migrants can bring to their home countries are increasingly regarded as important for development. In fact, in the past number of years, a strong recognition of the importance of knowledge-based activities in the development process has boosted the resolve of countries to seek ways of strengthening the role of scientific diasporas in the transfer of technology, skills and knowledge so as to trigger economic and social transformations. Technological evolution has changed the production and transmission of information and knowledge, helping to reach the understanding that participation “at a distance” is possible without automatically implying a definite return of the human capital as the only reasonable option. Given that scientists abroad can stay interconnected and have a positive influence in their countries, the challenge is how to adequately implement such a brain gain strategy.

To create effective diaspora linkages with the development process taking place in the countries of origin, it is necessary to acquire further knowledge-based evidence on the scientific diaspora in destination countries, on the national systems of science and technology, as well as on labour and skilled mobility policies and initiatives.

This presentation addresses several of these issues and provides various indicators on how to leverage scientific diasporas’ knowledge, experience, skills and further resources to the advantage of developing home countries.  The presentation is based on research carried out over the last few years at the Cooperation & Development Center (CODEV) of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

Highlights from the following books will be shown:

a) ”Scientific diasporas from developing countries in Switzerland: empirical evidence and policy responses. Skilled migrants from Colombia, india and South Africa in Switzerland as partners in development”;

b) “Action oriented Tool-Kit to assess good practices of skilled migrants and scientific diasporas”.

These will be complemented by an overview of the methodologies and preliminary results of our ongoing research in India and the Republic of Moldova. The presentation will offer a set of good practices and specific policy recommendations on the role of scientific diasporas as agents of home country development.

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