At the 2012 U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting, the United States highlighted a broad and enduring commitment to building Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) capacity. Recognizing the key role that science, technology, and health expertise play in promoting sustained economic development, the United States and ASEAN agreed to launch the U.S.-ASEAN Innovation in Science through Partners in Regional Engagement (INSPIRE) initiative. Designed to enhance bilateral science, technology, and health cooperation between the United States and ASEAN’s member states, the U.S.-ASEAN INSPIRE Initiative is based on three primary components:
Encouraging cross-border scientific collaboration
Recognizing the importance of cooperative research and the exchange of ideas between scientists regardless of nationality, the United States and ASEAN will work to facilitate cross-border scientific collaboration of direct benefit to our populations. Activities will include: regular consultations with the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST) to take stock of our ongoing cooperation and to identify new areas and concrete mechanisms for collaboration such as cooperation through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program, which allows scientists from developing countries to apply for research and capacity building funds in partnership with U.S.-funded collaborators; establishment of a U.S.-ASEAN Science Prize aimed at recognizing outstanding achievements of women scientists and fostering enhanced participation of women in science and technology research; and placement of a science advisor at the U.S. Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta. The State Department, through its International Visitors Leadership Program, is also engaging in discussions on a project for ASEAN scientists.
Promoting an ASEAN scientific “enterprise” linking science, technology, and innovation to drive economic development
The economy of the 21st century will be based more than ever on innovation. Through INSPIRE, the United States and ASEAN will cooperate to sustain research and promote innovation by working to strengthen the involvement of the private sector in scientific “enterprise,” which will link science, technology, and innovation to drive economic development and increase prosperity across the region. Activities will include: a health innovation workshop and potential follow-up visits to the United States by ASEAN scientists; an initiative to improve broadband connectivity in the region; increased cooperation under the Global Alliance on Clean Cookstoves; support for public-private research and capacity building programs; and support for COST efforts to facilitate the mobility of scientists and research from public and private sector institutions.
Improving our collective response to pandemic outbreaks and disasters
Nationally, regionally, and globally, a need exists to increase capacity in pandemic and disaster surveillance, detection, and reporting, and response. The United States and ASEAN will cooperate to improve the speed of response to pandemic threats through the application of the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), enhancing the preparedness and stability of the region and beyond. Pandemic-related activities will include support for a pandemic influenza research workshop in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health; strengthening Lower Mekong Initiative communicable and emerging infectious disease programs; and application of USAID’s Pandemic Influenza and Other Emerging Threats Program to combat zoonotic diseases, such as avian influenza, at their source. INSPIRE’s disaster prevention activities will include a COST symposium on risk reduction in collaboration with researchers from U.S. science agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey, collaboration with the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Center (AHA) to develop an ASEAN-customized, state-of-the-art Disaster Monitoring and Response System; and support for the USAID-sponsored CAP-Malaria project, which strives for systematic control of multi-drug resistant malaria in the Greater Mekong sub-region.