Since its establishment in 1962, the National Council of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Lebanon has been the national institution entrusted to advise government and societies on the impact and repercussions of the rapid progress in the application of science and technology; directly through its affiliated research centres, and indirectly through cooperation with academic and other scientific institutions.
In April 2006, the newly formulated five-year Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) was officially launched in Beirut by the Lebanese Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Fouad Siniora in the presence of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) H.E. Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura.
STIP sets out to enhance and diversify science, technology and innovation input in economic activities resulting in the creation of high-quality jobs and investment opportunities. It has been prepared by a team of international experts and Lebanese stakeholders in cooperation with the CNRS, UNESCO and the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO). Substantial input has also come from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The CNRS wishes to express its special appreciation to all of the organizations involved for their efforts, commitment and valued contribution.
STIP represents not only a change in the operation of the CNRS itself, but also a change in its relationship with all relevant stakeholders. It is a formulation of a comprehensive vision, linking together identified socio-economic societal needs and qualified human resources capable of finding relevant solutions to respond to these needs. STIP stresses the need for partnerships between all stakeholders in Lebanese society in order to successfully formulate and implement the STIP Plan of Action in all its phases.
In its current state, the implementation plan calls for the CNRS to organize specialized national stakeholder workshops in order to define more focused Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) priorities and research programs to converge STIP outputs effectively into direct benefits to Lebanese services and productive sectors. Unfortunately, efforts to implement the STIP have been slowed down due to the catastrophic effects of recent military conflicts. The Lebanese Government has been confronted with the huge task of coping with the impact of this conflict, particularly the rehabilitation of a destroyed infrastructure and the recovery of the economy that came to almost a stand still. For STIP this means awaiting recovery of the Lebanese economy, and government financing allocating the promised 30% of STIP budget.
Nonetheless, the CNRS has been able to gradually implement some of STIP recommendations, namely:(1) Adopting STIP priorities in its grant research program that fi nances research at Lebanese universities. (2) Initiating steps, with the support of UNESCO, leading to the establishment of a Lebanese National Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation. (3) Calling on Lebanese universities for the joint establishment of Associated Research Units, as centers of excellence in priority areas defi ned by STIP.