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The Venice Process: Reconstructing the Science Systems in Southeast Europe

For the past decade, the ‘Venice process’ has been rebuilding scientific cooperation among Southeast European countries. Named after the Italian city which hosts UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE), the Venice Process has dual aims: on the one hand, it sets out to heal some of the wounds inflicted by the violent break-up in the 1990s of the former Yugoslavia, once a major player in European science; in parallel, the Venice Process sets out to build scientific cooperation between the sub-region and the rest of Europe, in order to prepare countries for integration into the European Research Area.

The Venice Process was officially launched at the Venice Conference of Experts on Rebuilding Scientific Cooperation in Southeastern Europe, 24–27 March 2001. Seven months later, the recommendations adopted by the conference met with the unanimous approval of the ministers responsible for S&T from the countries concerned, at a roundtable organized during UNESCO’s General Conference. Also attending the roundtable were numerous countries from the European Union and several non-governmental organizations.

Since 2002, UNESCO’s Venice office has provided science policy advice and expertise to Southeast European countries, in order to raise awareness of the importance of investing in S&T for national and regional development. In addition to gathering ministers and other high-level decision-makers together on issues related to STI governance, BRESCE has contributed to the elaboration of the national STI strategies of both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

BRESCE has also provided financial support and devised schemes to encourage regional networking in life sciences, environmental sciences and astronomy, as a means of tackling brain drain, supporting communication services and strengthening scientific cooperation as a tool for reconciliation and dialogue. Since 2003, four new southeast European networks have been launched.

In 2004, Slovenia became a member of the European Union, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey have candidate status.

Since 2009, the UNESCO Venice office has been mobilizing the diaspora to promote the knowledge based development of Southeast Europe. In 2011, it co-organized a workshop to identify ways of reconnecting highly skilled emigrants with efforts to promote sustainable development in their countries of origin. Highly skilled professionals from science, technology and business have emigrated from Southeast European countries in droves since the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Today, this brain drain poses a systemic headache for science, education and innovation systems in Southeast Europe.

Useful links

Contact the UNESCO team in the Venice Office: c.faccia(at)unesco.org; z.harasani(at)unesco.org

Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (Venice Office)

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