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Unlocking Uzbekistan’s Scientific Potential: Uzbekistan-UNESCO Cooperation in Advancing Science and Innovation

Tashkent, Uzbekistan – WEBWIRE

Uzbekistan, with its rich history as a cradle of culture and science, has seen a resurgence in its focus on scientific development in recent years. In the past, the country has offered to the world some prominent scholars thinkers, beginning from Ibn Sina and Beruni in 10th century to Ulugbek in 15th century, whose works has served to be a cornerstone to the development of science in many fields.

The government of Uzbekistan, under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has prioritized science and innovation as key drivers of sustainable economic growth. In 2017, the Ministry of Innovative Development was established, which has been reformed into the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation in late 2022.

Innovation and entrepreneurship have been encouraged in Uzbekistan through the establishment of technoparks, clusters, and innovation centers. For example, the Navoi Free Economic Zone has been transformed into a technology park with a focus on advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, and ICT. The Tashkent Scientific and Technological Park has been created as a hub for research, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies.

The Academy of Sciences and its institutions have also been strengthened with the adoption of around 30 decrees and legal documents since 2016. Notably, President Mirziyoyev proposed the declaration of the Aral Sea region as a zone of ecological innovations and technologies, which was enshrined in a United Nations’ Special Resolution in 2021.

Uzbekistan has also been investing in the development of its human capital in the field of science and innovation. The government has initiated various programs to promote STEM education and increase the number of students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Scholarships, grants, and other incentives have been introduced to attract and retain talented scientists and researchers in Uzbekistan

To further support Uzbekistan’s scientific goals, UNESCO has been a reliable partner through various initiatives.

A major milestone was the joint project between UNESCO and the Islamic Development Bank on Strengthening the inclusive Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) system in Uzbekistan, implemented from 2019 to 2022. This project has yielded significant achievements, including the publication of the report “Mapping Research and Innovation in the Republic of Uzbekistan” as the 10th volume of UNESCO’s Global Observatory of Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Instruments (GO-SPIN) country profiles series in 2020.

The main outcome of the project was the development of the new National Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Policy of Uzbekistan for 2022-2030, which serves as the country’s strategy for advancing its innovation-driven economy. The policy includes recommendations for improving the STI system and governance, strengthening capacities in STI, advancing human capital, and improving coordination among STI actors.

In addition, Mr. Ibrokhim Abdurakhmonov,  in 2023, a prominent scientist and the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation of Uzbekistan, was awarded the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences for his groundbreaking work on molecular markers in cotton breeding.

Uzbekistan also has two Biosphere Reserves inscribed in UNESCO’s “Man and Biosphere” Programme.

Uzbekistan was the first country in central Asia which started actively working on geoparks programme promotion and establishment. There are efforts underway to create the Kitab Geopark for potential inscription in UNESCO’s Geopark network.

UNESCO’s support in Uzbekistan’s science and innovation endeavors aligns with its goal of promoting STI as a key policy objective for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). Through its various projects and initiatives, UNESCO continues to assist Uzbekistan in investing in science, technology, and innovation, developing national science policies, and reforming their science systems.

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