In general, the activities of the three subcommittees (which are summarized in the attached table) correspond directly to the goals enumerated in Section IIA. These activities, and future plans, are described in more detail below.
In pursuit of this goal, CISET has undertaken a series of activities to coordinate and optimize U.S. participation in bilateral and multilateral cooperative S&T programs. Some of these activities involve long-range, continuing processes, such as combining resources from two or more countries to plan, build and operate very large science programs and research facilities . Other Committee activities will continue to be organized on a short-term basis to resolve specific issues that require interagency consensus.
At the scientist-to-scientist level, significant international consultation and collaboration already take place. However, some of the constraints to effective cooperation are related to issues that are within the purview of governments, rather than scientists and scientific organizations. Often, consultations between government officials do not begin until project planning is already well advanced by scientists from various countries or regions. This makes it difficult to stimulate government interest in otherwise attractive opportunities for international cooperation. Governments often have few ready mechanisms for comparing and coordinating national priorities and program plans, and for proceeding from discussions and consultations to the actual negotiation and implementation of specific projects.
With the Megascience Forum nearing the end of its three year term, the U.S. is proposing new follow-on arrangements to enable interested governments to consult and exchange information about large science projects, at a sufficiently early stage to explore potential avenues of cooperation. The new arrangements, which would be implemented within the existing Megascience Forum budget, would also allow governments to plan and facilitate the implementation of joint programs. Under the terms of the U.S. proposal, which was developed through a series of CISET Subcommittee II interagency meetings, an OECD standing group would be established to allow government policy officials to exchange information on large science projects. In addition, discipline-specific working groups could be formed by interested OECD member governments to explore the potential for new projects and programs. These discussions would take place under the auspices of the OECD, but the responsibility for negotiating any final agreements, and for administering any cooperative programs, would reside solely with the participating governments.
Regular interaction among the region's senior science officials could stimulate S&T cooperation in the hemisphere and support efforts undertaken in other fora, including the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research and the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction. It could also advance new initiatives such as the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. Using the successful G-7 science ministers gatherings as a model, science ministers and advisors could meet to review S&T issues of common interest. Based on the discussions at the Summit, the U.S. will host a such a meeting in 1995.
Science and technology play a vital role in connection with critical problems that transcend the boundaries of any region, country or continent. Besides helping to alleviate global problems, technological activity may lie at their root cause (for example, energy generation that contributes to global warming), while advances in communication and transportation make everyone more aware of the crises that affect distant parts of the world.
Beyond the humanitarian motivation of helping people who are impacted by global problems, American leadership in S&T can serve a broad definition of national security, one which takes into account threats to international stability that do not necessarily originate in purely military, economic or ideological conflicts. In the future, instability and war may be increasingly due to the inability of governments to ensure an adequate quality of life for their citizens. Unsustainable population growth, food shortages, lack of adequate energy sources, environmental degradation, and deteriorating health conditions are incompatible with the spread of stability, economic progress and democracy in the developing world. In the post-Cold War era, the U.S. must invest in prevention of conflict as well as in conflict resolution. The health and security of Americans can be affected by the consequences of actions undertaken in other parts of the world, for example, the spread of infectious diseases, or the loss of biodiversity. The nation should apply its scientific and technological expertise to lead the international community in minimizing the impacts of these problems on global security. Finding solutions to global problems will require a coordinated international effort by scientists, engineers and policy makers. A global community of scholars, united by a shared understanding of scientific methodology and responsibility, and linked via modern telecommunication networks, can be a positive force for promoting international stability and prosperity. International cooperation can help to strengthen and preserve scientific communities in the developing world (and in former communist countries), and those scientific communities can contribute to open democratic institutions.
In pursuit of this goal, CISET is addressing the following subjects:
A working group of CISET Subcommittee III met on August 15, 1994 to review Research and Development for International Population Stabilization. The discussion was limited to contraceptive development research, with special attention devoted to the programs of NICHD/NIH and USAID. The working group identified current research priorities in the area of STD risk reduction, and improvement in the use of existing methods and technologies. Also, the following long-term priorities for research and development were discussed:
- Access to a variety of effective and acceptable methods of contraception.
- Wide knowledge about family planning methods.
- Awareness and education about the most effective family planning services.
Although there is very good communication between the USG agencies, their foreign counterparts, and other donors and foundations in this area, two major needs/obstacles were identified: (1) better coordination and collaboration between USG agencies in the development and evaluation of spermicidal/microbicidal agents to prevent pregnancy and/or transmission of STDs/HIV, and (2) discussions with the USFDA about accelerating the approval process (for domestic and foreign applications) of new barrier methods, especially non-latex condoms. The working group recommended follow-up action on these two topics, and suggested that additional meetings would be useful to review R&D issues related to (1) sociological and operations research on the effectiveness and acceptability of family planning strategies, and (2) demographic research and data collection related to population.
Private industry plays a crucial role in contraceptive development and marketing. Efforts to encourage private sector participation in research, and to facilitate the introduction of new methods, could have an immediate and major impact. But the lengthy processes required for drug or device approval in the U.S. add to the final cost of contraceptive products and discourage involvement by the private sector.
The CISET working group identified several barriers to effective research, development and utilization of contraceptive devices and methods. The following topics will be addressed by the group in the future:
A long-term commitment to enhancing the stature of reproductive health research is needed to attract talented individuals to the field, particularly in countries with rapidly growing populations. Resources need to be developed in the public and private sectors to enhance the study of reproductive biology in the academic community and in the private sector. With no new approach to contraception reaching the U.S. market in over thirty years, and with most contraceptive research currently being done outside of the U.S., there are strong incentives to increase international collaboration. Resources need to be committed to match the needs (with assurance of follow-through) in the development, testing and marketing of new contraceptives. Flexibility in funding arrangements, in particular cooperative agreements between government agencies, and increased shared involvement within the public and private sector, are needed to optimize existing funds and to encourage innovation. This approach should enhance international cooperation, and directly benefit the U.S.
Development for International Food Security and Nutrition