With a call that exceeded 1,400 people, the event closed on Friday, September 9. First Open Science Forum Latin America and the Caribbean, CILAC 2016.
High authorities, experts, academics and science, technology and innovation companies - from twenty countries around the world - met in Montevideo from September 6 to 9, responding to the call of UNESCO, together with national and regional partners.
The proposal was form an integrated platform to promote Science, Technology and Innovation (CTI) towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda. For Lidia Brito, Director of the UNESCO Regional Science Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, CILAC 2016 “it far exceeded expectations due to the quality and depth of the debates, but mainly due to the relevance and number of recommendations arising from the activities.”
The presence of the President of Uruguay, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, at the Opening Ceremony meant recognition of the will of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to have a regional STI agenda for development. In his Inaugural Conference, President Vázquez especially valued “the pioneering condition, the open nature and the regional dimension of this event”, which managed to mobilize all sectors of society around five thematic axes: Scientific policies, Universities for development, Science and citizenship, Sciences for the 2030 Agenda and Sciences for business innovation.
With the celebration of five ministerial tables, the States present They highlighted their commitment to STI for sustainable development, as well as their potential for collaboration, both among themselves and with other international bodies. At CILAC 2016, positions of 15 governments from Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Africa, who participated together with representatives of important international organizations -IDB, CAF, ECLAC, SEGIB, OAS, among others.
The Ibero-American space, as well as the South-South cooperation space, were some of the examples considered during CILAC 2016 for investment and creation of regional structures more compatible with international development. Among other experiences, an innovative Argentine collaboration platform such as Latin American Center for Interdisciplinary Training (CELFI)-– was presented at CILAC 2016 by the Minister of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation of Argentina, Lino Barañao. CELFI offers scholarships to young people in the region to train and work in an interdisciplinary and international manner on problems that affect our countries. Barañao highlighted that ““Complex problems cannot be addressed from a single area of knowledge, and this initiative is promoting the new vision that we want to give to Latin American science.”, in accordance with the postulates of CILAC.
The CPlenary conferences maintained the spirit of conversation, integrating the different actors in the debate. Companies and sponsors They provided a renewed vision of sustainable development, from which it is understood that development challenges are common to all of society and as such must be addressed. In this sense, CILAC 2016 opened possibilities of presenting good multiple linkage practices, strengthening work and cooperation links between the private and public sectors, as well as with academia.
The presence of young scientists interested in questioning, debating and transforming STI policies in the region, was another proof of the importance of the CILAC movement towards the future. An example of this was the technological competition format for teams of undergraduate students presented by the community TECNO X, which brings together Latin American technologists, experts in innovation from the public, private and citizen spheres, in line with SDG 17 (Partnerships to achieve the objectives), and their action on issues such as dengue, the rational use of energy or detection of pathogenic agents in agriculture.
Finally, CILAC 2016 highlighted the debate about science and gender. In the innovative activity “Women in Science: the possibilities are endless”, an informal breakfast brought young scientists from different sectors into dialogue with renowned researchers invited for the occasion. Alice Abreu, Director of GenderInSITE, expressed that “initiatives of this type are needed in the region: the exchange of ideas and experiences contributes to strengthening our role as women scientists”.
CILAC 2016 constitutes an unprecedented initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean, capable of integrating multiple sectors, different levels of government, integrating disciplines in a single area, to offer a clear vision of how STI can and should be used for transformation that is required in the face of the SDGs. The resulting proposals and recommendations for action will be synthesized into a roadmap joint on STI issues.
Starting with CILAC 2016, a network consolidation process builts to mobilize more and more forces for action towards a coherent STI agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean. Regarding the next World Science Forum, to be held in Jordan in 2017, the Director of UNESCO Montevideo, Lidia Brito, assured: «Towards Jordan we plan to systematize the great challenges and the great opportunities that the region has today, to present them in a forum where the voice of Latin America and the Caribbean is well represented».
This first link of a regional mobilization of CTI for the SDGs has already given way to CILAC 2018 and CILAC 2020, whose organization has already been requested by countries in the region.