Adapted from the article titled “OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2021: Times of Crisis and Opportunity”

International collaboration in relation to science, technology, and innovation (STI) in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been noteworthy. Governments, businesses, philanthropies, and civil society actors have come together in order to share data, identify and fill knowledge gaps, exploit complementarities, and pool resources.

The international response to COVID-19, although not free of difficulties, offers renewed hope that international STI and other cooperation can help provide solutions to other global challenges, through cross-border communication and transactions. Societal or grand challenges, such as climate change, food security, and public health issues, are increasingly targeted by international STI and other cooperation, mirroring their adoption as priorities in national policies.

Apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a sense of urgency to direct international STI and other co-operation activities towards “global challenges”, broadly defined as persistent, complex, and large-scale problems facing humanity.

Government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the importance of national politics, leadership, and values in influencing international co-operation. Governments will need to balance national priorities and goals with the need for internationally co-ordinated action to address the societal and grand challenges.

This would involve active communication and interaction with other countries. Without such collective action, the capacities to deal with them – in the form of scientific knowledge, technology platforms, and international co-ordinating institutions – will remain underdeveloped, leaving countries more exposed to global shocks as opposed to the benefits of being adequately prepared.

One cannot ignore that collective active action would also provide a range of benefits such as stabilized or even increased economic growth.