19 October 2017
Mr President M Temer
President of the Federative Republic of Brazil.
Palácio do Planalto
Most Excellent Mr. President of the Republic,
The General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) took place in São Paulo from 11th October 2017 to 13th October 2017. Representatives of the 60 member countries of IUPAP at the General Assembly came from many countries where difficult economic developments in their countries had pushed their governments to make significant cuts to the science budget of their country. The difficulties faced by the scientific effort are enhanced when this happens after a period when the government has been building up scientific capability, and attracting talented scientists to their institutions. It takes a significant period of time to create excellent scientific institutions — the time involved is decades, not years. But the time it takes to disrupt these institutions is much shorter — perhaps one year — when they are hit by dramatic budget cuts. People, and the knowledge and experience they have, depart the country. The skills which have been built up are lost, and the flow of innovation from scientific research to industry is cut off. Young scientists who had hoped to make a scientific career in their home country will go elsewhere, because the market for their talent is world-wide. After this disruption to their careers they will be very reluctant to return to their home country, fearing that it will happen again.
The General Assembly was pleased to learn of the excellent research in physics being done in Brazil, but they also learned that, in Brazil, the budget for research of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations, and Communications had a cut of 44% in 2017, and a new cut of 15.5% is expected for 2018. The General Assembly recognized that cuts as large as this will damage Brazil for many years to come. The dismantling of internationally renowned research groups and a brain drain involving some of Brazil’s best scientists will occur. Scientific research will suffer, and as Brazil tries to convert from an economy heavily reliant on exploitation of natural resources to one built on the talents of its people, the wider economy will also suffer.
The General Assembly appreciates the serious economic difficulties faced by Brazil. However, it respectfully points out that the severity of the cuts applied to the science budget will inhibit recovery from those difficulties, and asks that you reconsider this decision before the damage is done.
The 29th General Assembly resolved to write to you and the Minister of Science Technology, Innovations, and Communications to explain the effects that these large cuts will have, and how they will seriously jeopardize the economic future of the country, and to publish that letter on its website. This letter is the implementation of that resolution. It will be published, together with your reply, on the IUPAP website, www.iupap.org.
International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP)