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Brazil underinvest in science, below average

Brazil underinvest in science, below average

Global spending on science increased by 19% worldwide between 2014 and 2018. Even without consolidated data, this trend was further strengthened in the following two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the expansion of appreciation for science is uneven. Only two countries account for 63% of this increase: the United States and China. Meanwhile, four out of five countries allocate less than 1% of their GDP to science sectors.

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Data are from the new UNESCO Science Report, the United Nations body for the advancement of science, education and cultural regulation. The document is titled “The Race Against Time for Smarter Development; Executive Summary and the Brazilian Scenario”, and addresses topics related to science around the world. From the models presented, some issues related to Brazil stand out.

Investment and GDP

The percentage of Brazilian GDP investment in science (1.26%) is lower than the world average of 1.79%. Contrary to the global trend, from 2014 to 2018, the country invested a smaller proportion; 1.27% that year. Latin America as a whole has followed a downward trend in investments in science. The continent moved from 0.73% to 0.66%.

All over the world, countries with developed and emerging Asian economies stand out. South Africa and Egypt have also boosted investment in research. It increased from 0.77% and 0.64% to 0.83% and 0.72%, respectively. Southeast Asia expanded from 2.03% to 2.13%, mainly driven by Thailand and Vietnam. In the Middle East, the UAE has begun a strong expansion of science, including sending a probe to Mars. Small developing countries’ GDP spending increased from 0.69% to 1.30%.

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Research spending in the world increased by 19% in four years / UNESCO

Germany ranks highest, with 3.09% of GDP devoted to scientific development; Japan with 3.26%; South Korea 4.53%; Israel with 4.95%; The United States accounts for 2.84% of GDP, with more than $21 trillion.


Another indicator found in the report focuses on the number of researchers working in countries. In this regard, Brazil lags far behind, with an average of 888 researchers per million inhabitants; The number that remained between 2014 and 2018. The global average is 1,368. In Latin America, Argentina stands out, with 1,192, still far from the greatest scientific powers on the planet.

The European Union focuses on 4,069 researchers per million people, and lags behind, as a continental bloc, only North America, with 4,432 researchers. At the top of the ranking is South Korea, with a score of 7,980; New Zealand, with a number of 5,578; Germany, with 5212; Japan 5331; The United States, with 4,412, and Canada, with 4,326.

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Epidemic and science

The UNESCO report also reinforces the importance of science for the progress of mankind. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated like never before the importance of cross-country studies and the rapid need for new technologies. In late 2019, a new strain of coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, was discovered in China before spreading rapidly around the world. From the beginning, scientists have exchanged information and data with each other, starting with the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus, in early January 2020, the report highlights the report.

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The pandemic has demonstrated the benefits of this participatory culture, both within and across national borders. Since 2015, there has been an increasing international scientific collaboration in different parts of the world. Very quickly, many governments created ad hoc scientific committees to manage the crisis. This allowed them to see the advantages of having local experts to monitor and control the evolution of the virus.”

The importance of the state was also demonstrated in crisis management, as well as in providing the basic needs of citizens. The COVID-19 crisis has reminded us of the need for strong links between the public and private sectors to produce equipment such as respirators, masks, medicines and vaccines. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the global economy. The social, economic and environmental gains made in recent years are at risk of being eroded or even invalidated.”