One of the principal recommendations of the Pugwash Conference in Venice1 in 1965 was to establish the International Foundation for Science ‘in order to address the stultifying conditions under which younger faculty members in the universities of developing countries were attempting to do research’. IFS was founded as a Research Council and registered as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Sweden in 1972. IFS receives funding from a portfolio of donors and funders including development organisations and science academies. The annual budget is approximately USD 5 million. IFS has 135 Affiliated Organisations in 86 countries, mainly in the developing world. IFS has an international Board of Trustees. The IFS Secretariat is located in Stockholm, Sweden.
We live today in a world that faces many interlinked crises. The challenge before us is not only to provide sufficient food, water and energy (to a population that will peak at around 9 billion people by 2050) but also to ensure security of supply, at affordable cost and within acceptable limits of environmental change. Some of the greatest challenges are in the developing world where the scientists of tomorrow must secure their career in research today and to contribute to a global research community that is reducing poverty and supporting sustainable development. Our overall goal therefore, is that: ‘Young men and women scientists in developing countries conduct relevant and high quality research that is put it into use’.
In order to contribute to this goal, IFS provides opportunities for young scientists to propose research into biological and water resources in low income countries. These proposals are rigorously assessed by international experts, with grants and support provided to the very best early career scientists to enable them to work in their own country and tackle research issues related to local needs. Local training courses contribute towards strengthening the capability of developing country scientists to propose, conduct, report and share relevant and high quality research. The research can involve the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes, as well as relevant social and economic aspects and issues related to securing entitlements. It can be theoretical or applied and will be likely to address aspects of sustainable management, conservation, or renewable and equitable utilisation of the natural resource base.
IFS has awarded over 7,000 small grants, in over 100 countries, building capability of tens of thousands of young developing world researchers. An individual IFS Research Grant amounts to USD 12,000. One person can receive no more than two individual grants. The IFS grant is intended for the purchase of the basic tools needed to conduct a research project: equipment, expendable supplies, and literature. A new collaborative research approach for teams of 3-5 grantees is being piloted amongst scientists in East, West and Southern Africa working on biodiversity and under-utilized crops (NUS). Once the collaborative research pilot is concluded, the aim is to open up this approach for general applications.
From time to time IFS gives awards for excellence in research to outstanding IFS Grantees. Grantees must be nominated for these awards, but may not nominate themselves. Further details in the following pages:
1. The Pugwash Conferences take their name from the location of the first meeting, which was held in 1957 in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada. The stimulus for that gathering was a manifesto issued in 1955 by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein -- and signed also by Max Born, Percy Bridgman, Leopold Infeld, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Herman Muller, Linus Pauling, Cecil Powell, Joseph Rotblat, and Hideki Yukawa -- which called upon scientists of all political persuasions to assemble to discuss the threat posed to civilization by the advent of thermonuclear weapons. Since then the Nobel Prize winning conference series of scientists meeting in private as individuals, rather than as representatives of governments or institutions has expanded its remit to seeking cooperative solutions for global problems. The 1965 meeting first proposed the creation of IFS.