Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

NEW DATES: 28-30 June 2021

Panel: Research capacity building - What is the deal?

Conveners: Flemming Konradsen, Peter Furu, Bjørg Elvekjær & Ole F. Olesen, Global Health Section, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen

Universities and research institutions are recognised as key drivers of sustainable national development, and strengthening the capacities of these institutions in low- and middle income countries has therefore been a key priority in many bi-lateral and multi-lateral development aid programmes. This engagement has involved a wide range of external donors, especially from the North, representing different countries, sectors, and cultures. The donors have often acted in isolation, with little or no coordination between them and often pursued priorities that reflected their own value-based conditions and objectives rather than those of the recipient countries.

However, there are many indications that this scenario is changing. Inspired by the Paris declaration on aid effectiveness, and further catalysed by the consequences of globalisation in general, many donors are re-thinking their strategies. There has already been a significant shift from transfer of internationally research-generated knowledge and focus mainly on supporting individual Master and PhD scholarships to also support the strengthening of capacities at the institutional level. Based on the assumption that effective change processes must be driven by the partner institutions themselves interventions now increasingly focus on the upgrading of the local programmes, systems, services and infrastructure and strengthening the institutions’ capacity to reach out and actively engage society on all levels.

Secondly, the traditional pattern of donors in the North and recipients in the South is also in transition. E.g. the emergence of new powerful economies in many Asian and some African countries has resulted in an increase of South donors who contribute to pave the way for new combinations and stronger South-South partnerships and networks.

The panel will present and discuss the aims and the impact of research capacity building collaboration in a rapidly changing global landscape with a specific focus on support provided to 1) PhD scholarships and PhD training programmes and 2) institutional research environments.

The panel will comprise a selection of donors and university partners from Europe, Africa and Asia, who will share and discuss successes and constraints of different modalities and selected interventions.  The presentations will be complemented by brief video comments from different stakeholders to the same topics the panellists are debating.