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Latin American and Caribbean Countries Agreed to Promote Regional Policies on Science, Innovation and ICT
Representatives from national science, technology and innovation-related agencies in Latin American and Caribbean countries, gathered in Santiago, Chile, agreed to promote public policies on science, innovation and information and communications technologies (ICT), addressing the challenges the region faces in terms of structural change, social equality and environmental sustainability.
Ministers, deputy ministers and other senior officials met this Monday and Tuesday at the First Meeting of the Conference on Science, Innovation and Information and Communications Technologies, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) at its headquarters in the Chilean capital.
The Conference is a subsidiary body of ECLAC that was created during the Commission's Thirty-fourth session, held in August 2012 in El Salvador. In Santiago, the Conference's Executive Committee was formed; Chile presides over it and 12 other countries in the region also belong.
The Santiago Agreement, signed at the meeting's conclusion, proposes fostering dialogue and regional cooperation in the framework of the Conference while also promoting coordination with other regional, sub-regional, bilateral and multilateral entities.
Countries aim to work on regional projects and activities related to the training of human resources, technological innovation, ICT and institutional strength, among other areas.
The delegates also agreed to "boost the complementary aspects of the innovation and education systems to address the demands of the productive apparatus and establish long-term policies on science, innovation and information and communications technologies."
The first meeting of the Conference was organized by ECLAC and Chile's Foreign Affairs Ministry, with the support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Brazilian Center for Strategic Studies and Management (CGEE) and the Chilean National Council on Innovation for Competitiveness.
At the inauguration of the event, ECLAC's Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, stressed "that science, technology, innovation and knowledge must be at the service of the people," allowing the population to obtain more productive jobs with full rights, which implies better salaries and social protection.
ECLAC proposes forging social compacts in various spheres, one of the most important of which is science and technology, Bárcena said. This area is key to developing active industrial policies oriented towards the diversification of the region's economies, she added.
The senior representative called for "formulating regional integration proposals on science and technology" and emphasized that "we are here to decide to finally be protagonists of the great technological change" the world is experiencing.
Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Heraldo Muñoz proposes increasing investment in research and development in Latin American and Caribbean countries, and he highlighted, as one of the Conference's objectives, the development of a "biannual program of activities regarding regional cooperation on these matters."
The Chilean minister called for analyzing the possibility of creating a regional financing mechanism to boost the development of science, technology and innovation. "Our intention and commitment is that this Conference contributes to the creation of a regional agenda," he said.
Other participants in the seminar's opening session included Guido Girardi, president of the Chilean Senate's Commission on the Challenges of the Future, and Katia Trusich, the Economy Undersecretary at Chile's Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism. Afterwards, Brazil's Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Clélio Campolina, gave a keynote lecture on regional integration and scientific and technological development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The first meeting of the Conference took place in the framework of "ECLAC's Innovation Week," which included a meeting of legislators on Monday at the Chilean Senate building. At that event, participants agreed to promote regional cooperation in the legislative arena by sharing experiences and developing parliamentary capabilities in science, technology and innovation. In addition, the legislators asked ECLAC to serve as the technical secretariat for this process, which is unprecedented in the region.
ECLAC's Innovation Week will end tomorrow with a seminar on innovation and SME's in Latin America at the Commission's headquarters in Santiago.