Rethinking Global South Collaboration in Research, Innovation and Education

Rethinking Global South Collaboration in Research, Innovation and Education

Green globe on a woman's hand

Addressing the global challenges, such as climate change, environmental degradation, sustainable food production, biodiversity loss and social inequality, requires global multidisciplinary cooperation with the regions of the Global South (Africa, South Asia and Middle East, and South America). However, collaboration with the Global South needs stepping out of the traditional development co-operation to a more horizontal collaboration in education, research and innovation. Universities can be pioneers here by bringing up new ways of co-creational collaboration, and this way taking the global responsibility in solving the common challenges.

Global South has been changing fast lately, and the development and international collaboration policies and practices have needed to answer to these changes and transform accordingly. In Europe, Africa has been the main focus in these discussions, due to its close connection to Europe. The African continent is holding the youngest population in the world and at the same time some of the world’s most fragile states. It is a continent with a lot of potential and emerging markets. The economy is growing, but the division between emerging economies and ‘fragile states’ is increasing. EU’s comprehensive Africa strategy aims to deal with these challenges, considering the inter-continental dialogue and the diversity of development on this emerging continent, especially within the fields of governance, security and migration.

In Finland, to tackle with the global challenges and globalization in general, the Ministry of Education and Culture has adopted the global programme with a total funding of 185 million euros for the years 2021-2024, to fund the internalization of Finnish Higher Education Institutes (HEIs).This funding supports eight Global pilot programmes coordinated by various Finnish HEIs, out of which University of Turku is coordinating two; Finland-African Platform for Innovation (FAPI) and Finland-China Network in Food and Health Sciences (link to UTU intranet). The aim of these pilots is to enhance the global effectiveness of Finnish HEIs in research and teaching activities. To support the acquiring of external research funding within these pilots, the University of Turku has invested in Global South funding support services. That means a focused support for researchers in looking for funding for Global South related research and innovation projects and in preparing Global South related funding applications, main emphasis being in the new Horizon Europe framework programme. 

We are looking forward to seeing increased research collaboration with the Global South countries in several Horizon Europe calls targeted specifically to the Global South regions, as well as in other calls that do not explicitly mention including Global South participants. That is, because the multi-dimensional and inter-twined global challenges, mostly relating to environmental degradation and human welfare, need global collaboration to be solved. In addition to research collaboration, technical and education collaboration is also needed to ensure the quality and sustainability of the actions. Planning and co-creating projects from the local perspectives and needs, together with Global South partners is of the utmost importance in Global South collaboration. To achieve the impact, we need to work with the Global South, not for the Global South.

The writers are Johanna Toivonen de Gonzales ( and Ville Myllynpää ( from the Global South research funding team.