Interview with Jorge Arosemena

By 15/03/2018 #!30Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:36:18 +0000Z1830#30Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:36:18 +0000Z-3+00:003030+00:00x30 03pm30pm-30Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15: 36:18 +0000Z3+ April 3rd, 2018 5T!30Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:36: 18 +0000Z1830#/30Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:36:18 +0000Z-3+00:003030+00:00x30#!30Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:36:18 +0000Z+00:004# News

Under the title “City of Knowledge: a possible utopia”, in 1996 UNESCO published a report for the Government of Panama and the City of Knowledge Foundation on the installation of this initiative, with recommendations linked to its design and strategic planning.

In the preface to said report, the then Director General of UNESCO, Mr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza expressed:

“The decision made by the Government of Panama to transform former military installations in the Canal Zone into a “City of Knowledge” constitutes an encouraging step in this task of forging a more peaceful world.fico, mfairer and more supportive.”

In this edition of the CILAC Newsletter, we have the privilege of having the word of one of the most representative protagonists of the creation and growth of this immense work: Professor Jorge Arosemena, President of the City of Knowledge Foundation. We appreciate your time and willingness to join us on this opportunity.

1. The City of Knowledge is a model of virtuous conjunction between knowledge as value and sustainable development as a strategy. At the origin of this initiative, unprecedented in Panama and the region, the City of Knowledge Foundation played a privileged role. You have been a leading actor in this story. What were the values that shaped the vision of the initial promoters of the City of Knowledge?

In the mid-1990s, important discussions were held about the role that the City of Knowledge project should play, with the participation of businessmen, people from science and culture, and representatives of the Panamanian government. UNESCO, in a visionary way, supported and contributed methodology to these discussions. By 1998, when the Panamanian State legally gave life to the project, it was already clear that it wanted to go beyond a scientific and technological park, conceiving that in the City of Knowledge R&D&I should also encompass the humanistic and the cultural. . In the background of these debates was the concept of the knowledge society.

Some of the discussions from that stage have already been overcome, but the values of the founders of the project remain valid today: The need for collaboration between sectors to find answers to the crucial problems of Humanity: science, technology, culture, business, universities , communities, NGOs, government, etc.; the commitment to knowledge as a driver of more humane and sustainable development, and as the basis of public policies, philosophically oriented by Human Rights. Also the commitment to international cooperation and multilateralism as spaces for the search for solutions. And, of course, the powerful message of peace that entailed transforming an old military base into a campus for knowledge and human development, which is as valid today as it was 20 years ago, or even more.

2. What role does the City of Knowledge Foundation understand UNESCO should play in the future, both at the national and regional level?

At the City of Knowledge we understand that UNESCO has to be the conscience of the international community, always insisting on the key role of education, science and culture in development, and on the need for technology to be at the service of people's needs; raising the challenges and opportunities of intercultural dialogue and knowledge, as well as the importance of valuing scientific, historical, multicultural and natural heritage as main sources of knowledge and resources to find solutions to the problems of humanity. This is the contribution that UNESCO makes in our opinion.

3. What is the current proposal of the City of Knowledge? How has the initiative developed over the course of these two decades? How do you project the future of Panama and the region?

From the City of Knowledge we see many challenges ahead for Panama and the region. Firstly, our democratic systems have not ensured that economic prosperity reaches the vast majority, nor that fundamental rights and freedoms are also available to minorities. In fact, democracy as the best way to solve people's real problems has been suffering a progressive erosion in the spirit of our people, while there is a rise in authoritarian and intolerant ideas everywhere. All of this represents a serious threat to well-being, security and peaceful coexistence.

On the other hand, it is worrying that the economic interests of a few continue to maintain (against the majority of the planet's inhabitants) a paradigm of economic growth based on the unlimited exploitation of natural resources and the unsustainable pollution of the air, the water we drink, from the soil and from the oceans. The paradigm shift and the generation of sustainable development alternatives is now not only an ethical imperative but also one of survival for our species. Our societies will have to show resilience and creativity to confront the effects of climate change, pollution and a massive loss of biodiversity on a global scale, with consequences for the quality of life of all people everywhere.

But, obviously, in that future we not only see threats but also opportunities. We think that the convergence of humanism, science and business is what makes the contribution of the City of Knowledge special in the search for solutions, being an innovative community, open to all, and an experimentation laboratory for the transformations that we want to see in Panama and the world.

The City of Knowledge is today a place where entrepreneurs, businessmen, scientists, thinkers, artists, community leaders, as well as experts from the government, NGOs and international organizations, collaborate to develop projects that generate social change. We think that only through a strategic alliance between the State, private companies and the third sector will it be possible for Panama and the countries of our region to develop a knowledge-intensive economy and society, oriented to the needs of people and communities.

4. The City of Knowledge Foundation is involved in the organization of the Open Science Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean, CILAC 2018, which will be held in Panama City from October 22 to 24 of this year. What is the importance that the CDS Foundation assigns to the CILAC Forum as a meeting place and debate on scientific and development policies, as well as a link between scientific knowledge and citizenship?

Participation in CILAC 2018 will be strategic for all countries in the region and their key sectors in the adoption and execution of scientific policies: municipal and central governments, NGOs, museums, universities, representatives of the private sector and civil society, etc. We think that CILAC is managing to put together a very relevant program and design of activities, which raises crucial issues: How do we make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable?; How does the construction of resilient territories and communities lead to the empowerment of leaders, women and minorities, stimulating relationships of coexistence, security and conservation of ecosystems? And how could regional strategies be thought of within the framework of the new bioeconomy to generate productive opportunities in a sustainable way? They are all critical and strategic issues for the region.

From the City of Knowledge we have proposed for the CILAC 2018 program a first exchange on the role of cities of knowledge and areas of innovation in the 21st century. We think that this could be the preamble to a meeting in the near future to analyze the topic in more depth.

We also think that CILAC 2018 is going to be a valuable opportunity for Panama, which will allow us to learn more about the experiences of other countries, show our most valuable projects and initiatives and continue positioning our country on the map of science in the region. We are excited to be allies in this effort of the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation, the Mayor's Office of Panama, UNESCO and the other entities that participate.