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CILAC 2016: the first link in a regional mobilization of Science, Technology and Innovation to the SDG

With a call that exceeded 1400 people, closed on Friday, September 9, 1st Open Science Forum Latin America and the Caribbean, CILAC 2016.

Science, technology and innovation high authorities, experts, academics and businesses -from twenty countries around the world- they met in Montevideo from 6 to 9 September responding to the call of UNESCO, together with national and regional partners.

The proposal was to form an integrated strategy to promote Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of 2030 Agenda. Lidia Brito, Regional Director of Science of UNESCO for Latin America and the Caribbean, says CILAC 2016 “greatly exceeded the expectations for the quality and depth of the discussions, but mainly because of the relevance and the number of recommendations resulting from the activities.”

The presence of the President of Uruguay Dr. Tabaré Vázquez in the Opening Ceremony, meant a recognition of the willingness of the Latin American and Caribbean countries to have a regional agenda for the development of STI. In his inaugural lecture, President Vazquez especially appreciated “the pioneer status, openness and regional dimension of this event”, which managed to mobilize all sectors of society around five core themes: Science policy, Universities for development, Promoting citizen science, Science for the 2030 Agenda and Sciences for business innovation.

By holding five ministerial round tables, attended States showed their commitment to STI for sustainable development, as well as its potential for collaboration, both among themselves and with other international actors. In CILAC 2016 dialogue they were put in positions of 15 governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Africa, who participated along with representatives of major international organizations -IDB, CAF, ECLAC, SEGIB, OAS, among others.

The Latin American space as well as South-South cooperation were some of the examples considered during CILAC 2016 for investment and creating regional structures more consistent with international development. Among other experiences, an innovative Argentinian collaboration platform as the Latin American Center for Interdisciplinary Training (CELFI) – it was presented in 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 interdisciplinary and internationally on issues affecting our countries. Barañao stressed that “complex problems cannot be addressed from a single area of knowledge, and this initiative is promoting the new vision that wants to give Latin American science”, in accordance with the principles of CILAC.

Daan du Toit, Deputy General Director for International Cooperation and Resources Department of Science and Technology of South Africa, highlighted the important discussions transversely generated in CILAC on SDG but also around specific objectives such as ” need for food security (SDG 2), monitoring is required of the Paris negotiations on carbon gas emissions (SDG 13), public health issues (SDG 3) “.  With regard to this last point is that both Africa and Latin America have several common challenges to face regarding communicable diseases, among others. Secretary of State for Research, Development and Innovation of Spain, Carmen Vela Olmo “does not understand science without international collaboration; cooperation must be transformed into cooperation, which does not mean that we all have to put the same”.

Plenary Conference kept the spirit of conversation, integrating the various players in the debate. Companies and sponsors brought a renewed vision of sustainable development, from which it is understood that development challenges are common to all of society and as such should be addressed. In this sense, CILAC 2016 opened possibilities to present good practice multiple bonding, working closer ties and cooperation between the private sector and the public, as well as with academics.

The presence of young scientists interested in questioning, debating and transforming STI policies in the region, it was another evidence of the importance of CILAC movement for the future. An example of this was the format of technological competence for degree students’ teams presented by the community TECNO X, which gathers Latin American technologists, innovation experts in the public, private and national areas in line with the SDG 17 (Partnerships to objectives), and action on issues such as dengue, rational use of energy or the detection of pathogens in agriculture.

Finally, the debate on science and gender excelled in CILAC 2016. In the innovative activity “Women in Science: the possibilities are endless”, an informal breakfast put on scientific dialogue young people from different sectors with recognized researchers invited for the occasion. Alice Abreu, Director of GenderInSITE, said that “such initiatives are needed in the region: the exchange of ideas and experiences contributes to strengthening our role as women scientists.”

CILAC 2016 is an unprecedented initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean, able to integrate multiple sectors, different levels of government, integrating disciplines in a single area, providing a clear view of how STI can and should be used for transformation required ahead of the SDGs. The proposals and recommendations resulting action will be summarized in a joint roadmap in matters of STI.

CILAC 2016 starts a process of consolidation of networks created for mobilizing ever 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 said: “Towards Jordan we systematize the big challenges and great opportunities today it has the region to present them in a forum where the voice of Latin America and the Caribbean is well represented. ”

This first link in a regional mobilization of STI for SDGs has already given way to CILAC 2018 and CILAC 2020, the organization has already been requested by countries in the region.