Since its establishment in 1964, UNCTAD has originated and supported a broad range of development-focused policies
dealing with international trade, finance, investment and technology. UNCTAD relies on its ahead-of-the-curve
research and analysis, technical cooperation and intergovernmental dialogue to bring the development perspective
into national and international policy agendas and to help align them with the priorities of sustainable and equitable
UNCTAD serves as a focal point within the United Nations secretariat on issues of science, technology and innovation
(STI) for development. The work programme on STI, including the STI Policy (STIP) Review programme is based on
the mandates set by UNCTAD X (Bangkok, 2000), UNCTAD XI (São Paulo, 2004), and UNCTAD XII (Accra, 2008).
The deliberations of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development1 (CSTD) have also
contributed to the definition of the STIP programme and have provided a forum for the dissemination and analysis of
the outcome of STIP Reviews.
Over the past few years UNCTAD has experienced increased demand from member States for strategic advice on STI
policy, reflecting a renewed awareness of the crucial role of technology and innovation in the development process.
As the need for knowledge-based alternatives to finance-led development strategies becomes more evident, the STIP
Review programme aims to support the development of national productive capacity in developing countries through
technological development and innovation. Technological development and innovation processes are complex, they
involve linkages and feedback loops among a broad set of actors and are greatly influenced by social, economic,
institutional, cultural and historical factors. Designing and implementing innovation policies are therefore necessarily
complex exercises too. STIP Reviews are conceived to support STI policy-making in developing countries by assessing
the effectiveness of their current STI policies and identifying priorities for action leading to sustainable development
STIP Reviews are undertaken at the request of member States. Following an extensive review and evaluation of the
country’s STI actors, networks, interactions, institutions, capabilities, policies and overall environment, which involves
consultations with all the STI stakeholders, a diagnosis is established and policy options formulated and presented
to the STI policymakers and then to the other national STI players. A systematic effort is made to involve all the STI
stakeholders through a process of consultations, including national STIP Review workshops. The outcome of the
analysis, diagnosis and policy options formulation process is documented in a STIP Review report which sets out an
action plan for the consideration of the Government. The STIP report is disseminated through the UNCTAD intergovernmental
mechanisms, the CSTD and among the national STI stakeholders through workshops and other events.
The diagnosis and recommendations also provide the basis on which specific capacity-building activities targeting
various elements of the innovation system and environment can be formulated, funded and delivered. Another important
benefit of the STIP Review process is that it can help generate a consensus among STI policymakers and
development stakeholders on future lines of action and can establish a strong sense of ownership of the related policy
As of the end of 2011, UNCTAD had implemented 11 national STIP Reviews and 7 other countries had requested one.
In several beneficiary countries, STIP Reviews have ignited significant renewal in STI policy, helped raise its profile in
national development strategies and facilitated the inclusion of STI activities in international cooperation plans.