A guest post by Dr. Lidia Brito, UNESCO Regional Director of Science for Latin America and the Caribbean
The declaration signed by the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives, meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, established the adoption of “a historic decision on a comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative Goals and targets.”
There, the governments that signed committed themselves to working tirelessly for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda, recognising “that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. We are committed to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner.”
The 2030 Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace, promoting human rights and building partnerships for sustainable development. This Agenda is therefore, a direct mandate for the United Nations and all its agencies, funds and programmes.
UNESCO believes that education, sciences, knowledge and mobilisation of critical mass at local, regional and global levels play a key role in the achievement of those commitments. Without that mobilisation and the production of the necessary knowledge, it will be difficult to guarantee a more sustainable, prosperous and equal world.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are many different initiatives for cooperation on science, technology and innovation (STI). They are led by many different organisations – sub-regional, extra-regional, regional or international – and most of them share goals and are focused on achieving sustainable development. What is needed now is better coordination and strengthening of STI cooperation in the region. It is clear that we need more dialogue and interaction between these initiatives in order to gain efficiency and achieve more impact.
The need for an open space
The UNESCO Regional Bureau for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean realises the need for an open space that gathers different stakeholders of the science system –governments, academia, civil society, entrepreneurs, firms and international partners – to conduct an open discussion, share ideas and build common visions and actions. This interaction can contribute to building a Science Policy Agenda for the region, from a regional perspective, which sets the challenges and opportunities of knowledge advancement in a broader, multi-disciplinary perspective in order to address the SDG demands in the region.
That is the reason for establishing, with other regional and national partners, the Open Science Forum for Latin American and the Caribbean: CILAC. Its first edition took place in Montevideo, Uruguay in 2016, and now we are organising the second one in Panama City.
CILAC is a dynamic and inclusive regional space to discuss, plan and monitor the contributions and ways in which science, technology and innovation policies can contribute to the priorities established in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region. The conference also has solid foundations among all the stakeholders involved – governments, universities, companies and scientific and civil society organisations.
The three-day forum will start with a keynote conference, and close with a high-level round table with the participation of ministers, mayors and international experts. During the Forum, we are organising 20 high-level sessions, highlighting the challenges and opportunities for the region. Overall the programme will have more than 40 parallel sessions that will address other relevant issues related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the region. There will also be more than 20 parallel events, and many fascinating citizen-science activities, that will target and involve the people of Panama City and the Forum’s participants – so they can truly surround themselves with science.
Please, come to Panama City and be part of the 2nd Open Science Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean, CILAC 2018 ‘Science Connects: Sustainable Territories’, which will take place from 22-24 October 2018 in Panama City. Finally, I should add that as a prelude to the conference — or as we say in Spanish, ‘teloneros‘ — UNU will deliver its sixth ‘Reach and Turn‘ Science Reporting workshop, which has so far trained and connected 250 researchers, reporters and policymakers from across Central America, West Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. More to follow.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.