New book on harnessing science and innovation to tackle challenges in poor countries

A new book by two of the UK's leading international development thinkers is a landmark in development thinking and practice.

Science and Innovation for Development demonstrates how science and innovation can be harnessed to tackle today's biggest challenges in poor countries, including climate change, HIV/AIDS and illiteracy. Case studies are described, including the use of tissue culture to develop disease-resistant bananas in Kenya; the use of nanotechnology to develop cheaper and faster kits for diagnosing infectious diseases and the use of organic material to power a multi-purpose stove that can also function as a refrigerator and generator.

"Science and Innovation for Development is the most important publication on development since Fritz Schumacher's 1973 classic Small is Beautiful," says world-renowned development scholar Professor Calestous Juma of Harvard University. He will join the authors to launch the new title in London on Tuesday 19 January at the Wellcome Collection.

Written by two of the UK's foremost development experts, Sir Gordon Conway, Professor of International Development at Imperial College (and former chief scientist at the UK Department for International Development) and Professor Jeff Waage, Director of the London International Development Centre (LIDC), with Sara Delaney, LIDC & Imperial College, Science and Innovation for Development demonstrates how even the most basic daily activities in developing country communities are based on science and innovation.

Sir Gordon says: "People in developed countries sometimes forget how scientific innovations have transformed their lives.

"In the 20th century we witnessed dramatic medical inventions such as a vaccine against yellow fever and the discovery of penicillin. Today we are seeing revolutionary advances in electronics and communications.  Similarly, technology is helping solve challenges faced by
the world's poorest people:  water purification technologies are providing communities with access to clean water, mobile phones are being used by farmers to access agricultural data and medical research is helping tackle diseases like malaria and HIV."

Using the Millennium Development Goals as a framework, the book explores a wide range of development issues where science is particularly active: agriculture, health and the environment.

Co-author Professor Waage says: "We have written this book to help people understand the role that science and innovation can - and does - play in helping developing countries reduce poverty and improve people's livelihoods.

"We firmly believe that science is vital for development and we want that to be well understood, particularly as science is often presented in a way that is not easily accessible to the non-specialist."

The authors and Professor Juma will be joined at the book launch by a panel of leading UK scientists: Scotland's Chief Scientist and UKCDS Chair, Professor Anne Glover; Professor Alan Thorpe, Chair of Research Councils UK and CEO of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of Research at the Department for International Development (DFID) and Saleemul Huq, Senior Fellow, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

The book is published by the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UKCDS) in partnership with the London International Development Centre (LIDC), with contributions from Imperial College London. The production of the publication was funded by DFID.

http://www.ukcds.org.uk

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