The United Nations' Scientific Advisory Board recommended in a report Thursday that countries spend around 3.5 percent of GDP on research and development in order to fight poverty and other urgent issues, which is much more than what most countries are currently spending, BloombergBusiness reported. Scientific advisers to the United Nations advised the world to particularly increase their investments in science and technology.
Most countries consider 1 percent of GDP allocated for research and development as a high target; currently 2.1 percent of global GDP is invested in research and development. The Scientific Advisory Board, which consists of two dozen scientists, stressed the importance of increasing that number. “If countries wish to break the poverty cycle ... they will have to set up ambitious national minimum target investments," stated the U.N. report.
Countries that spent on average at least the recommended 3.5 percent on both private and public research and development expenditures from 2007 to 2012 included Finland, Israel, South Korea and Sweden, according to data from the World Bank Center. Countries that spent the least on research and development included Iraq, Guatemala and Paraguay. Research and development currently makes up 2.8 percent of the U.S. economy, below the recommended target.
Expenditures on research and development are defined as “current and capital expenditures on creative work undertaken systematically to increase knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and the use of knowledge for new applications,” according to the World Bank. “R&D covers basic research, applied research and experimental development.”
With research and development accounting for 1.7 percent of China’s fast-growing economy, some in the U.S. have worried about the country's global competitiveness. In 2014, BloombergBusiness reported that total federal spending on research and development in the U.S. had dropped to its lowest level since 1956, while China doubled its research and development spending between 2008 to 2012.