Drawing on her extensive experience as a researcher, teacher and administrator and boundless enthusiasm for the role that science can play in development, Lidia Brito, brings a clear set of priorities to her new job as head of UNESCO's science policy division.
Brito views science policy as a top priority even for those developing countries that do not have a strong policy infrastructure. "Devising effective national science policies is essential, " she says. "Policies not only set the stage for economic development, but also help foster a vision for transmitting knowledge and innovative ideas."
One of her top priorities, she says, will be to strengthen the role of science policy within UNESCO's broader agenda to build scientific capacity for diplomacy. "Effective science policies forge valuable connections among nations," she says, "and that encourages international exchange and collaboration which not only spur development but also promote greater understanding and respect for other cultures."
When it comes to capacity building, Brito says, innovation is the key. "The scientific and technological skills that each country develops," she adds, "should serve as a valuable foundation for turning knowledge into concrete action."
Brito earned her undergraduate degree in forestry engineering from Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique. After gaining MA and PhD degrees in forestry science from Colorado State University in the United States, she worked as a professor of forestry at Mondlane University, becoming the university's deputy vice chancellor in 1998. Two years later she was appointed Mozambique's first Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, a post she held until 2005. In her capacity as minister, Brito was responsible for drawing up a national strategy for higher education and reforming Mozambique's legal framework for science.
Asked what kind of relationship she hopes to forge with TWAS, Brito says that she hopes to tap the Academy's impressive networks of scientists and scientific institutions. "TWAS can help us link our experience in science policy with the work of the scientists themselves in ways that can advance our shared agenda for accelerating science-based development throughout the South."
To download the complete interview, click here.