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Positioning KISTEP as a Leading Global Think Tank through Science Diplomacy
Long-term Vision
Positioning KISTEP as a Leading Global Think Tank through Science Diplomacy
  • By matthew
  • October 8, 2015, 02:00
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President of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation and Planning Dr. Youngah Park.
President of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation and Planning Dr. Youngah Park.

 

Invited speakers and distinguished guests at the first Asian Innovation Forum on Aug. 25-26, 2015, at the Grand Ambassador hotel in Seoul, South Korea.
Invited speakers and distinguished guests at the first Asian Innovation Forum on Aug. 25-26, 2015, at the Grand Ambassador hotel in Seoul, South Korea.

 

BusinessKorea met with Dr. Youngah Park, the current president of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP), former lawmaker of the 18th National Assembly, and former professor of physics at Myungji University, to talk about the current direction of the institute and details about hosting the upcoming OECD Ministerial Meeting Daejeon and the World Science and Technology Forum (World S&T Forum), which is scheduled to take place from Oct. 19-23. She told us about her vision for KISTEP and spoke about the strategy behind sponsoring and participating in the OECD Ministerial Meeting Daejeon and World S&T Forum. Excerpts from the interview follow.

Would you introduce KISTEP to our readers?

Established in 1999, KISTEP is a government-affiliated S&T-specialized agency that performs a comprehensive range of functions, including S&T policy planning, budget allocation and coordination, and performance evaluations.

In charge of leading national S&T policy, KISTEP determines future social trends and pro-actively selects areas to focus on and invest research resources. KISTEP also seeks to create future values via its job of planning and evaluating government S&T projects. KISTEP is one of the leading organizations behind the Creative Economy policy, the current government’s S&T flagship policy.

KISTEP initiated and successfully hosted the Asian Innovation Forum (AIF) on Aug. 25-26. Please tell us about hosting the AIF. Also, we heard that KISTEP proposed an initiative to establish the Asian STI Think Tanks Network (ASTN) during the AIF. Please tell us about the ASTN and the specific expectations and plans that KISTEP has for ASTN and its members.

The 1st AIF was an effort to expand the scope of the annual Trilateral S&T Policy Seminar to cover the entire region of Asia. The AIF brought together leading figures and institutes in science, technology, and innovation (STI) to enable discussions on research findings, policy trends, and current challenges that each county faces.

ASTN, which was launched at AIF, also represents KISTEP’s long-held vision. KISTEP has continuously strived to position it as a global think tank by actively participating in technology transfers and building networks with international key players. In launching ASTN, KISTEP seeks to build a lasting platform for communication and collaboration with Asian STI policy institutes, where KISTEP hopes to more effectively shape global S&T values and visions.

This year, 15 institutes from 11 countries joined the ASTN. The majority of these founding members have a history of mutual exchanges with KISTEP. I hope that the membership will grow in the future so that ASTN can stand as a representative network of the region.

It seems that KISTEP spent a busy week towards the end of Aug. hosting Gender Summit 6 Asia-Pacific (GS 6 Asia-Pacific) immediately following the AIF. What is the significance of hosting the Gender Summit in Seoul, and what are the plans for the future?

In the hope of encouraging gender discussions in S&T and wider participation, KISTEP, Center for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WISET) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) jointly launched GS 6 Asia-Pacific 2015. The latter marks the first Gender Summit held in the Asia-Pacific region, a part of the world where gender discrimination against women in S&T is relatively more pervasive.

At GS 6 Asia-Pacific 2015, KISTEP introduced the Gendered Innovations Index (GII), which is a measure to identify and measure gender discrimination in S&T. The GII is also an effective tool to find policy implications. Developed by KISTEP, it is the world’s first attempt at developing an index focusing on gender discrimination in the S&T field. KISTEP hopes to build a global platform for cooperation regarding gender issues in the S&T field via GII.

As a government-affiliated institute under the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, KISTEP is sponsoring and participating in the upcoming OECD Ministerial Meeting Daejeon and the World Science and Technology Forum (World S&T Forum), which is scheduled to take place from Oct. 19-23. Please give us an overview of the upcoming OECD event.

The upcoming OECD Ministerial Meeting Daejeon 2015 will gather the Ministers of OECD countries as well as the Ministers of ASEAN countries. The World S&T Forum is organized back-to-back with the Ministerial in Daejeon, Korea to bring together the world’s most distinguished STI leaders. The OECD Ministerial Meeting Daejeon 2015 and World S&T Forum have the shared goal to discuss global challenges in S&T and provide guidance for the international community toward sustainable economic growth for the next decade.

The “Daejeon Declaration” will set the course for the OECD’s work on S&T policy for the next five years, and will help set directions for the 2016 Blue Sky III conference that will set the STI measurement agenda.

Could you elaborate a little more on the program of World S&T Forum and its significance?

The World S&T Forum is designed to draw consensus on the common global STI future, challenges, and directions for STI policies and their socio-economic impacts.

The program of World S&T Forum will consist of four thematic discussions that break into 12 sessions featuring a National System of STI, STI that Shapes our Future, STI for the Creative Economy, and STI for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. The World S&T Forum will also feature keynote speeches by leading figures in the STI field, such as Jeremy Rifkin and Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover.

In particular, “Parallel Session 1-1” hosted by KISTEP will cover topics such as STI and R&D policy, implementation of national STI policy, corporate good practices, and public-private partnerships in the innovation field.

The consensus drawn from the Forum will be passed onto the Ministerial Meeting and guide the Ministers towards building a new innovation strategy for the next decades. KISTEP is looking forward to seeing synergy created from World S&T Forum and the Ministerial Meeting, which are held back-to-back and share the theme of Creating Our Common Future through Science, Technology and Innovation.

The OECD Ministerial Meetings for Science and Technology in the past have been an event exclusively for OCED countries. But this year, non-OCED countries like the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam will also take part in the event. Please tell us the reason for expanding the scope of these meetings.

In order to more effectively tackle the global challenges such as climate change, new diseases, and energy crises, it is necessary to bring countries both from the developing and developed worlds to the table. This is more so, given that the interest in STI areas in developing countries in Asia has been significantly growing in recent years. Against this backdrop, 10 ASEAN countries were invited in addition to the previously participating OECD countries.

How much impact will the conclusions drawn from this OECD Ministerial Meeting for Science and Technology have on OECD organizational policy and participating countries?

As the Daejeon Ministerial will culminate in a “Daejeon Declaration,” this will set the course for the OECD’s work on S&T policy for the next five years, and will help set directions for the future STI agenda. The conclusions from the Meeting will impact not only the OECD’s future direction but also the international agenda of the U.N., G7, and G20.

Events such as the AIF, Gender Summit and OECD Ministerial Meeting also represent opportunities for “diplomacy” in the area of S&T. Could you share your thoughts on “science diplomacy?”

As the name suggests, science diplomacy features elements of both science and diplomacy. To the diplomatic end, these events seek to further cement existing ties, build new ones, and also ease tension between nations. Communicating in the universal value of truth, science has the ability to build relations and encourage the pursuit of mutually beneficial goals.

Science diplomacy holds a special significance for Korea, which has transformed itself from an ODA recipient to a donor country in a matter of decades. As an exemplary beneficiary nation, Korea has a great responsibility in transmitting the significance of science diplomacy. The fact that Korea will be hosting the OECD Ministerial Meeting in Daejeon, home to numerous R&D institutes, attests to the country’s willingness to take on that responsibility.