History

~The Establishment of RISTEX~

In the World Conference on Science (jointly sponsored by UNESCO and ICSU) held in Budapest, Hungary, in June 1999, participants from around the world including scientists, government officials and journalists came together, and the Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge (the Budapest Declaration) was issued with regard to how should science and technology be in the 21st century. According to the Declaration, science and technology of the future should not only produce knowledge but broaden its attention to how to apply that knowledge. The previous function of "science for knowledge" was thus augmented by three new functions of "science for peace," "science for development," and "science in society and science for society."

Against this background, in April 2000, the then Science and Technology Agency established the Study Group on R&D of Science and Technology for Society chaired by the then President of the Science Council of Japan, Hiroyuki Yoshikawa. This body issued recommendations regarding three areas which should be pursued as the “science and technology for society”: “technologies aimed to resolve social problems,” “technologies attainable by the integration of natural sciences and humanities and social sciences,” and “technologies with which market mechanism do not work easily.”
The Science and Technology for Society Research System,* the former RISTEX, was founded in July 2001 as a specialized agency to pursue R&D in “science and technology for society,” and it was reorganized into the current
RISTEX in 2005.

* The former RISTEX conducted three main activities: 1. the mission-orientated research program, 2. funding programs, and 3. the forum for science and technology for society.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the Budapest Declaration, the Declaration on Science, Ethics and Responsibility was adopted by the participants of the World Science Forum (WSF) held in Budapest in November 2019. "Science for global well-being," one of its major components, states that "science is a global public good with the ability to contribute to sustainable development and global well-being."

~After the Establishment of RISTEX~

[Major Reforms]

In FY2006, the R&D structure of science and technology for society was reconfigured based on the results of the ex-post evaluation of the mission-orientated program which ended in FY2005, and the system underwent an extensive reform with major emphases on (1) overview of social issues at the stage of planning a new Focus Areas/Programs and the enforcement of functions to search/extract potential R&D Focus Areas, (2) full transition to the function as a funding agency, and (3) prioritization of collaboration with stakeholders for R&D and social implementation.

With the completion of the two initial R&D Focus Areas in FY2012, the administrative policy was reviewed and reconfirmed in FY2013 under the new system, and radical improvements in evaluation had been made for a further betterment of the organization. Based on the "General Guideline for the Evaluation of Government Research and Development (R&D) Activities" and the evaluation guideline by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Evaluation Committee was established in February 2015, with a policy to conduct high-quality self-evaluations which only requires simplified external evaluation.

[New Challenges]

(1) Contribution to the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" by unanimous consent, establishing 17 goals and 169 targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as international goals to be achieved by the year 2030.

To make use of the experience and knowledge of R&D in science and technology for society in resolving specific social issues, and to contribute to the achievement of SDGs which are typical examples of social issues, RISTEX has launched a new R&D Program, the “Solution-Driven Co-creative R&D Program for SDGs (SOLVE for SDGs)” in FY2019.In addition, from FY2021, RISTEX launches an R&D Program for prevention of social isolation & loneliness, which is becoming a prominent social issue due to various changes in social structure.

< Characteristics of Challenges in Resolving Specific Social Issues >

■ Cross-sectoral approach in R&D to issues that lie in systematic bottlenecks not confined by administrative boundaries
■ Realization of social innovations through a challenging approach in R&D
■ Elucidation of issues to be resolved by observing society and understanding the background and diversity of the issues, and construction of new social systems that are based on the analyses of human decision making, social psychology, and economic perspectives

(2) ELSI (ethical, legal and social implications/issues) Initiatives

The Fifth Basic Plan for Science and Technology, councils in the MEXT and other bodies are stating the need to respond to ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of science, technology and innovation (STI), such as the delay in provision of sufficient regulatory frameworks and a gap between people’s values and adaptability and those imposed by STI, arising from the rapid development of STI. It is also pointed out that the networking of researchers and a sustainable mechanism to secure ELSI experts are important in resolving ELSI.

RISTEX is undertaking R&D related to ELSI of information technology in the “Human Information Technology Ecosystem (HITE)” R&D Focus Area, launched in FY2016. In FY2020, a new R&D program started to fund research on ELSI of emerging technologies as well as the training of diverse ELSI researchers and practitioners.

In addition to the promotion of ELSI-related R&D through funding, RISTEX coordinates continuous dialogues among various stakeholders and the establishment of a forum for networking of these stakeholders while also engage in research and practice related to ELSI of technologies of which development JST promotes, by collaborating with relevant R&D departments in JST to maximize the research outputs and actualize social implementation of such outputs, thereby fulfilling the responsibility of JST as an R&D agency.

< Characteristics of Engagement in ELSI>

■ Agile and interactive promotion of integrated advancement of pioneering R&D and ELSI
■ Promotion of interactions between R&D and society by taking advantage of JST being an R&D agency, and RISTEX's network of humanities and social sciences (HSS) researchers
■ Analysis and reflection of factors that can affect new social systems, and fostering of acceptance of social systems for new technologies

2000 The Science and Technology Agency established the Study Group on R&D of Science and Technology for Society (Chairperson: Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, then the President of the Science Council of Japan), and issued recommendations in December under the title of “Promoting Research and Development of Science and Technology for Society.”
2001 The Science and Technology for Society Research System was established based on a cooperative partnership between the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) and the Japan Science Technology Corporation, the former Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). It set up “Research Areas ” based on the recommendations and began research activities.
2003 The research in JAERI was transferred to the Japan Science Technology Corporation, to be promoted by the latter, now JST.
2005 The Science and Technology for Society Research System was reorganized as the Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX).
2006 Extensive reform of the system was conducted with major emphases on (1) overview of social issues at the stage of planning a new Focus Area/Program and the enforcement of functions to search/extract potential R&D Focus Areas, (2) full transition to the function as a funding agency, and (3) prioritization of collaboration with stakeholders for R&D and social implementation.
2007 Implementation-Support Program was launched. It addressed the social implementation process separately from the ordinary R&D process, and thus supported undertakings aimed at diffusion and establishment of R&D outcomes.
2013 Implementation-Support Program (R&D results integrated Type) was launched. It promoted the creation of implementation projects while the Focus Area was still running, and thus supported undertakings that integrate and effectively implement into society the outputs of R&D Focus Areas.
2015 The Evaluation Committee was established to conduct the evaluation of R&D Focus Areas/Programs appropriately and smoothly.
2019 ・Solution-Driven Co-creative R&D Program for SDGs (SOLVE for SDGs), which aimed at contributing to the achievement of SDGs, was launched.
・ELSI-related activities, such as the establishment of a study group to discuss ELSI of genome-related technologies, were initiated.
2020 Newly established R&D program for dealing with ELSI.
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