The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established by the ASEAN Declaration of 8 August 1967. The mandate for ASEAN cooperation in science and technology can be found in the ASEAN Declaration, which states that ASEAN shall promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields and provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional, technical and administrative spheres.

 The ASEAN regional cooperation on science and technology was initiated when an Ad-hoc Committee on Science and Technology met in Jakarta on 27-29 April 1970. Subsequently, an ASEAN Permanent Committee on Science and Technology was established in 1971.

 Following the rationalization of the ASEAN operations in 1978, the Permanent Committee on Science and Technology was designated the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST). The ASEAN COST adopted the objectives and terms of reference of the Permanent Committee and met for the first time in Baguio City, Philippines, on 20-22 June 1978. Since that time, the ASEAN S&T policy, management and implementation of programmes have been principally driven by the ASEAN COST guided by mandates laid down by the Summits of ASEAN Heads of State and Government and by the Meetings of the ASEAN Ministers for Science and Technology.