C13. Commission on Physics for Development (1981)

Report to the Council and Commission Chair Meeting
September 28-29, 2001


C13 Conference on Physics and Industrial Development: Bridging the Gap (COPID).

C13 initiated a conference series in 1994 with the aim of arranging the conference every alternate year. The first two conferences were held in India (1994) and Brazil (1996) respectively. In spite of various attempts, the next conference in 1998 did not materialise. The last conference was held in 2000 in South Africa. The next conference is being planned for 2003 in Thailand. The difficulty with which these conferences are being organised is indicative of the difficulty with which C13 operates. The contact person for next conference is: Prof. Thiraphat Vilaithong of Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

It is interesting to note that there were two applications for funding of conferences submitted via C13 in the previous year and none for this year. This is indicative of the difficulty organisers of conferences in developing countries experience. Despite the fact that IUPAP makes funding available, conference organizers cannot rely on the funding with IUPAP as the only source since most of the participants from developing countries are usually non-paying.

Meetings of C13

I indicated previously how difficult it is to arrange C13 meetings where every member of C13 is present. Although some members of C13 are of the opinion meetings should be arranged, irrespective of whether every member is able to attend, that would be unsatisfactory since it is important that C13 members meet face to face. A number of regional meetings have been proposed.

Prof Ana Maria Cetto has arranged for physicists from the region to meet with the IUPAP Council on Saturday. Although members of C13 are aware of this meeting, it is evident that members from outside the region e.g. Brazil, are not in a position to attend this meeting. The following regional meetings are envisaged

Eastern Europe: March 2002
Europe and Northern Africa (Germany): September 2002
Asia (Thailand): February 2003

Membership of C13.

Members of C13 are of the opinion that the membership of the commission should be dominated by members from developing countries. It is therefore proposed that at least 50% of the members nominated (voted) onto C13 should be representatives from developing countries.

4. IUPAP membership

It is evident from the IUPAP membership list that developing countries find it extremely difficult to make the required contribution to IUPAP, no matter how small the minimum contribution is. It would defeat the objective of a subscription if the subscription for a developing country is totally waived.

Proposal: Each developed country should adopt a developing country that is not a member of IUPAP. The adoption will have two purposes. a) The developed partner country could elect to pay the minimum membership dues on behalf of the developing partner country for a mutually agreed period. This should be done without the developed country reducing its own contribution to compensate for the additional expenditure. b) The developed country would assist physicists from the developing country directly e.g. providing research opportunities, providing research resources, funding conference attendance, etc.

It is more important to establish physics-related activities in developing countries, rather than providing grants to enable observers to attend the General Assembly every 3 years, without becoming a member of IUPAP.

5. Regional activities

Several networks have been established in various regions of the developing world. Some of these networks are physics-specific. Others are general in nature. The mission of C13 cannot be carried out without substantial funding. As an alternative, we should utilise existing networks. As an example, physicists "in Africa" have established an Africa-Physics-Forum (yahoo group) and a very lively discussion is being maintained, be it that it is driven by physicists of African origin who are resident in the USA. IUPAP should actively utilise the networking tradition of organisations such as COSTED. It is not sufficient to have an IUPAP representative as an observer on COSTED.

6. The role of all Commissions in respect of development of physics

In line with the declaration at the World Conference on Science, every scientist has the responsibility to contribute to the advancement of science and technology around the world:

    7. Research groups and institutions and relevant non-governmental organizations should strengthen their regional and international cooperation activities, with a view to: facilitating scientific training; sharing expensive facilities; promoting the dissemination of scientific information; exchanging scientific knowledge and data, notably between developed and developing countries; and jointly addressing problems of global concern.
It has been impossible for C13 to carry out that responsibility on behalf of IUPAP. C13 has tried to act as the conscience of IUPAP but has had little success because of the enormity of the problem. It is therefore proposed that each Commission of IUPAP should have development as one of its objectives. This is already done to some degree in the sense that special grants are made available by IUPAP to A-type conferences to assist physicists from developing countries. Furthermore, C13 has been expanded with associated members from C14 and AC1 with the objective to promote the development agenda within those disciplines. Our commitment to development calls for more than just associate members. The responsibility to develop physics in the developing world should be assumed by all the commissions and a new format for C13 should be considered.


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