Scientists must prioritize the Sustainable Development Goals now, says Janice Bailey, the Directrice Scientifique of FRQ-NT.
The FRQ-NT funds largely fundamental research, some applied research, but it’s all non directed. I really hope that the importance of basic science and anything that we do in society is respected, and is funded, and is considered as a must have. The pandemic has taught us that if you provide scientists with a lot of money and a short time frame, they’ll deliver. They’ll build upon past knowledge, such as for the vaccines right. The mRNA science, that was all basic science that was done in the previous decades. And scientists have been thinking about vaccines and using mRNA technologies as a treatment for pathologies. But this made things happen, and we broke every record possible.
How are your activities related to sustainable development?
In the past year or two, we have been quite aggressive in trying to sensitize the research community, our research ecosystem, about the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals. If you’re an academic researcher and you cannot see how your research might touch one of the 17 incredible goals, I think that maybe you are lacking some critical thought processes.
Why is this accent on SDGs so important?
Some of the most exciting and groundbreaking research, this basic research, is costly. I think it’s important to really protect and encourage fundamental research as a driver of the Sustainable Development Goals, and also as a driver of economic prosperity. Responding to these challenges as a solution finder, if you will. So really, it does come down to financing research. I think that we’re pretty good at this, but I really would hope that people would look to science and trust science, basic science, a little bit more in terms of looking for solutions. It’s great to talk about teaching science, but those of us who are in places of power and privilege need to act now.
What are you hopes for the International Year?
When we talk about the Sustainable Development Goals, we can’t wait for another generation of scientists. Those of us now, in our elected officials and the big business and the small business, we have to prioritize the Sustainable Development Goals now. I think it’s really important that we break out the silos of health sciences, social sciences, and natural sciences, and have everyone, all these fundamental scientists work together. And if we work together, I really have a lot of optimism that we could make a difference.