News archive - UNESCO Science report 2015 published: "SEE countries are advised to invest more and better in research and innovation"

The UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 was published on November 10, 2015 and provides more country-level information than ever before. The trends and developments in science, technology and innovation policy and governance between 2009 and mid-2015 described here provide essential baseline information on the concerns and priorities of countries that should orient the implementation and drive the assessment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the years to come. The chapter on Southeast Europe was written by Djuro Kutlaca.

Key messages

For two decades now, the UNESCO Science Report series has been mapping science, technology and innovation (STI) around the world on a regular basis. Since STI do not evolve in a vacuum, this latest edition summarizes the evolution since 2010 against the backdrop of socio-economic, geopolitical and environmental trends that have helped to shape contemporary STI policy and governance.

Key messages are:

Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the World Science Day for Peace and Development November 10, 2015

"Science will be essential to reach many of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, thus, to ensure a sustainable future. It is for this reason that Science for a Sustainable Future has been chosen as this year’s theme for World Science Day for Peace and Development on 10 November."

Watch the video message here.

South East Europe

One of the key messages of the report related to South East Europe is related to funding:

"Southeast European countries are advised to invest more and better in research and innovation, prioritizing investment and a ‘smart specialization’ of the region." (Djuro Kutlaca)


Research systems need to be more responsive to social and market demands
It is unlikely that any of the last five countries in Southeast Europe will become EU members before at least 2020, as the EU’s current priority is to consolidate the cohesion of its 28 existing members. It is generally admitted in Europe, however, that the EU membership of these five countries is ultimately inevitable, in order to ensure political and economic stability across the region. 
All five countries should use this time to make their research systems more responsive to social and market demands. They can learn a lot from Croatia and Slovenia, which are now formally part of the European Research Area. Since becoming an EU member in 2004, Slovenia has turned its national innovation system into a driving socio-economic force. Slovenia now devotes a greater share of GDP to GERD than the likes of France, the Netherlands or the UK, thanks largely to the rise of the business enterprise sector, which today funds two-thirds of Slovenian R&D and employs the majority of researchers. Slovenia’s economy remains fragile, however, and it has chronic problems in attracting and retaining talent.
Having only been an EU member since 2013, Croatia is still searching for the most effective configuration for its own innovation system; it is currently striving to follow the best practices of the EU and incorporate its body of law and institutional and empirical legacy into the national innovation system. 

Like Croatia, Serbia is what the EU calls a moderate innovator. These two countries are poles apart, however, when it comes to the weight of business R&D funding; this accounts for 43% of GERD in Croatia but only 8% in Serbia (in 2013). The Serbian government’s biggest challenge will be to overcome a linear understanding of the innovation process which has resulted in a highly fragmented innovation system; this fragmentation is the biggest obstacle to networking the R&D sector with the rest of the economy and society at large.

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro are all faced with structural adjustments and political and economic challenges which tend to have relegated the reform of their respective innovation systems to a lower priority. All are suffering from sluggish economic growth, the ageing of researchers, severe brain drain, a lack of private sector R&D and a system which encourages academics to focus on teaching rather than research or entrepreneurship.

Countries will be able to draw on the Western Balkans Regional Research and Development Strategy for Innovation and the SEE 2020 Strategy as a framework for implementing the policy and institutional reforms that should allow them to promote the ‘smart specialization’ that will set them on the path to sustainable development and long-term prosperity.

  • Raise GDP per capita in the region to 44% of the EU average by 2020;
  • Double turnover from regional trade from € 94 billion to € 210 billion;
  • Open up the region to 300 000 new highly qualified jobs by 2020;
  • Achieve minimum 9% energy savings in the region by 2018;
  • Raise the share of renewable energy in gross energy consumption to 20% by 2020;
  • Raise the GERD/GDP ratio to 0.6% in Albania and to 1% in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia by 2015;
  • Raise the GERD/GDP ratio to 1% in the FYR Macedonia by 2016 and to 1.8% by 2020 with a 50% private-sector participation.

Please find here further information:

Executive Summary

Geographical focus
  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Montenegro
  • Republic of North Macedonia
  • Serbia
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Ines Marinkovic on November 12, 2015
Modified on November 12, 2015