Covid 19 pandemic highlights importance of Open Science

Covid 19 has taught the world a lot and one such thing is cooperation in the field of scientific research. Already a movement focussing on free access to scientific publications, infrastructure and data, the ‘Open Science’ has now got an added support from international organisations.

In a joint statement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called for sharing of scientific discoveries and advances as per the declaration of “open science”.

Stating that closed science models are at an impasse, UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay said that the Covid 19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of scientific collaboration. She also said that today’s world needed collective intelligence. “As countries call for international scientific collaboration, as the scientific community, civil society, innovators and the private sector mobilize in these unprecedented times, the urgency of the transition to Open Science has never been clearer,” she said.

In the joint declaration, Azoulay, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for “recognising the power of scientific cooperation and diplomacy to unite nations, civil society, the private sector and the world, while stressing the importance of evidence-based decision-making.”

The three international organisations said that Open Science could reduce inequalities and also help to respond to the challenges of the pandemic. It could also further the progress towards implementation of Agenda for Sustainable Development.

They called on member states to

  • Ensure fundamental right to access scientific research and its applications. This will help in building a common global knowledge and closing the existing gaps in science and technology, especially in developing countries and women
  • Support international scientific community through collaboration and solidarity, rather than through competition. Sharing research outcomes and knowledge to make science widely accessible to everyone;
  • commit for the development and sharing of legal frameworks and policies for effective implementation of the principles of Open Science;
  • recall that sustainable and effective public policies should rely on verified information, facts and scientific knowledge for the benefit of all;
  • Support the potential of science in meeting societal needs. Shape the future of humanity
  • Recognize that Open Science is critical for improving and maintaining socio-economic welfare and integration of global economy.
  • acknowledge the power of scientific cooperation and diplomacy for uniting nations, civil society, private sector and the whole world
  • Join the Solidarity Call to Action and the WHO COVID-19 Technology Access Pool which seeks to sharing knowledge, data and intellectual property.

Open Science stands for allowing scientific information, data and outputs to be more widely accessible (Open Access), more reliably harnessed (Open Data) with active engagement of all stakeholders (Open to Society).


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