The UNESCO Science Report 2010 holds a mirror to the evolving status of science in the five years since its predecessor was published in 2005. It shows in particular how, while the disparities between countries and regions remain huge, the proliferation of digital information and communication technologies is increasingly modifying the global picture. By making codified information accessible worldwide, it is having a dramatic effect on the creation, accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, while at the same time providing specialized platforms for networking by scientific communities operating at a global level.
The distribution of research and development (R&D) efforts between North and South has changed with the emergence of new players in the global economy. A bipolar world in which science and technology (S&T) were dominated by the Triad made up of the European Union, Japan and the USA is gradually giving way to a multipolar world, with an increasing number of public and private research hubs spreading across North and South. Early and more recent newcomers to the S&T arena, including the Republic of Korea, Brazil, China or India, are creating a more competitive global environment by developing their capacities in the industrial, scientific and technological spheres. One consequence is greater competition between countries to attract scientific personnel from abroad and to retain or recall their best researchers and graduates living abroad.