Published the draft of the Strategic Roadmap for the implementation of the Brussels Declaration and EU-CELAC Action Plan on Science, Technology and Innovation (2021-2023)

At the Eighth Senior Officials Meeting on Science and Technology (SOM) of the EU-CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation (JIRI) on 30 October, Senior Officials reached consensus on the future steps of collaboration, the main points of which are reflected in the 2021-2023 Strategic Roadmap, awaiting approval according to the corresponding procedures.

Senior Officials stressed the importance of the 2015 Brussels Declaration and EU-CELAC Action Plan as guides to address the extraordinary threats of coming years, for which the development of the EU-CELAC Common Research Area will be a key part. The Participants reviewed the achievements of EU-CELAC Common Research Area and shared the priorities identified by both regions. This text summarizes the main conclusions collected in the document regarding the three pillars of the EU-CELALC Research Area (Mobility of Researchers; Cooperation of Research Infrastructures; Global Challenges), as well as some of the considerations that resulted in the definition of a new pillar: Innovation.

In relation to the ‘Research Infrastructures’ pillar, the Participants assessed the central role of RI in the construction of Common Research Area, and took note of the development of the EU-CELAC Working Group in RI since its creation in 2017. The Participants also debated on common priority areas for the EU and CELAC – such as health, environmental aspects and emerging technologies – and emphasized the importance of the support in this matter of EU-LAC ResInfra Project.

Regarding the ‘Researcher Mobility pillar’, the Participants stressed the importance of reinforcing the tools and instruments to inform on existing national, regional and European programmes supporting human capital development, international collaboration and knowledge transfer, and welcomed the extension of the Euraxess mobility portal to the whole CELAC region.

On the ‘Global Challenges’ pillar, three areas of activity were defined: health, environmental aspects of sustainable development, and digital.

Regarding health, Participants stressed the importance of shared challenges such as COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance and non-communicable (chronic) diseases, among others, highlighting the benefits of addressing them in the framework of participation and cooperation in global health research activities, such as GACD (Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases) and GloPID-R (Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Diseases Prevention). They also stated their support to CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) and GAVI (‘the Vaccine Alliance’), with vaccines being considered as a global public good.  Besides, Participants called for strengthening regional research networks and recalled the shared commitment to the promotion of open science as a key enabler of an effective joint response to the common health challenges.

Regarding the Environmental aspects of sustainable development (known in Europe as green transition), several topics were discussed. The Participants recognised the important contribution of wildfires to biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change, and emphasised the essential role that joint research, demonstration and deployment of innovative means and methods have in reducing this risk. They also discussed about sustainable agriculture, bioeconomy and circular economy and highlighted the importance of research and innovation in these areas to face climate change and to guarantee the well-being and prosperity of citizens, taking note of the efforts carried outunder the Horizon Europe programme in the framework of its Mission on Soils. Another topic that was addressed was the need to enhance joint research efforts related to the Atlantic Ocean, calling for a systemic approach to the challenges and opportunities offered by the Atlantic Ocean, welcoming as well the move towards an All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. Finally, on sustainable urbanisation, Participants welcomed the debate about the optimal ways to address the key focus areas, such as sustainable cities and communities, nature-based solutions, renewable energies, and more, and also underlined the need to explore synergies with the mobility and the innovation pillars.

Regarding Digital, Participants agreed that connectivity is an essential enabler of knowledge exchange, productivity and growth and welcomed the efforts to establish a high-speed link between both regions, highlighting  the value of BELLA cable to further boost the future cooperation potential in all areas. Participants also discussed the role of Cybersecurity as a vital factor to build trust in digital environments –  to this end, Participants underlined the importance of protecting their digital systems at all levels, as well as the importance of a proper evaluation of risks of the introduction and deployment of innovative digital technologies. Regarding digital standards, the Participants encouraged a joint work between EU and CELAC in defining common standards and promoting their adoption at the global level. Finally, Participants also underlined the need to continue developing the digital skills necessary for citizens and the economy to thrive in this period of digital transition

Participants acknowledged innovation as an essential ingredient for long term prosperity and for sustainable and inclusive development. They welcomed the organisation of the 2019 EU-LAC Innovation Cooperation Conference in Brussels and took note of its conclusions and recommendations. To this end, Participants underlined the importance of deepening the work on the EU-CELAC Common Research Area, adding ‘Innovation’ as its fourth fundamental pillar. Participants encouraged actions to strengthen management capacities and complementarity, such as innovation scoreboards that should help taking stock of the current innovation landscape, improvement of capacities in terms of technology transfer, and more. Participants agreed that smart specialisation is a promising area for further development.

Finally, Participants highlighted both regions commitment to open science, and concluded that CELAC and EU should have a common interest in exploring the potential for linking emerging ‘data commons’ around the world and of reaffirming the principles of Open Science.

As a conclusion, Participants highlighted the increased engagement between EU and CELAC at the highest political level and recalled the direct link between the political discussions and the S&T cooperation conditions framed by the SOM dialogue. Also, Participants encouraged good use of the opportunities offered by the Horizon Europe programme, which will launch in 2021 and remain open to the world, to the CELAC S&T community as an additional support to their activities and a way to enhance links with their counterparts in EU. The Co-Chairs finally invited working groups to take account of these priorities in their future activities and looked forward to the success of their work.

Joint Press Communique of the EU-CELAC JIRI Eighth Senior Officials Meeting on Science and Technology

  1. The eighth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the EU-CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation (JIRI) was held on 30 October 2020 as a virtual meeting hosted by Mexico, the current Pro-Tempore Presidency of CELAC.
  2. The meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Maria Elena Alvarez-Buylla, Director-General of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) of Mexico, representing the Pro-Tempore Presidency of CELAC, and by Mrs Maria Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation, Directorate General for Research & Innovation of the European Commission. Mrs. Laura Elena Carrillo Cubillas, Executive Director of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), and Mr. Javier Nino Perez, Acting Managing Director for the Americas, European External Action Service, participated in the opening session.
  3. In total, more than 160 delegates from 40 countries participated in the meeting, hereafter referred to as ‘the Participants’.
  4. At its high-level segment, the meeting was addressed by Mr Marcelo Ebrard, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, in his capacity as Pro-Tempore President of CELAC, and by Mrs Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth,
    representing the European Commission. They welcomed the consensus among the participants on the relaunch of the EU-CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation with ambitious Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) actions that would help bring about the best solutions to the most pressing global issues and achieve fair, inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.
  5. The Participants acknowledged the importance of the strength of the EU-CELAC partnership, based on shared values and priorities and recalled the strategic role that Science, Technology and Innovation play in addressing the unprecedented challenges and upheavals facing the world, stressing the importance of joint work on these topics, for the benefit of our peoples and future generations. It is only by unity in purpose and determination that truly structural and long-term solutions can be found for the benefits of the citizens in the EU and CELAC.
  6. The Participants underlined the importance of science and innovation cooperation on COVID-19, to ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment, particularly in joining efforts to strengthen multilateral and bi-regional initiatives, such as in the framework of the WHO, PAHO, GAVI, and COVAX.
  7. On this topic, the meeting included a special session entitled “The world post Covid-19: Joint response to a global challenge”, which underlined the essential need to confront the Covid-19 pandemic through common efforts and working together for a sustainable recovery. Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General, Ibero-American General Secretariat, Mr. Hugo López–Gatell Ramírez, Vice-minister of Prevention and Health Promotion of Mexico and Mr. Jorge de la Caballería, Head of Unit for Latin America and Caribbean, Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission shared their perspectives.
  8. The Participants highlighted the initiatives promoted through other multilateral mechanisms that promote international cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation, such as the STS Forum, the Ibero-American Knowledge Area (SEGIB) and the EU-LAC Foundation. They underlined the need for a better articulation of the actions promoted by the JIRI with these mechanisms in order to promote synergies, strengthen scientific links and contribute to the EUCELAC Knowledge Area.
  9. The Participants welcomed the relaunch of the JIRI and the organisation of three Preparatory Meetings for the SOM and the significant role of the Focal Points designated by the members in both regions. The Participants expressed their appreciation to the Focal Points for their work on ensuring synergies between the research and innovation ministries and contributing in definition of the draft 2021-2023 Strategic Roadmap for the implementation of the Brussels Declaration and EU-CELAC Action Plan on Science, Technology and Innovation.
  10. At the meeting, based on the results of an intense, open and participatory preparatory process of consensus-building consultations, the Senior Officials reached a consensus on the future steps to be taken, which are reflected in the draft 2021-2023 Strategic Roadmap. This draft consensus Strategic Roadmap will now be submitted for approval according to the corresponding procedures. Once these procedures are completed, a joint announcement by the PPT-CELAC and the European Commission will confirm the status of the document.

Background
The Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation brings together the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Member States of the European Union and the European Commission. In the field of Research and Innovation it implements the mandate agreed by Heads of State and Government in the 2015 Brussels Declaration and the EU-CELAC Action Plan on Science, Technology and Innovation. Cooperation is based on the creation of a Common Research Area consisting of three pillars – Researcher Mobility; cooperation between Research Infrastructures; and cooperation on efforts to find solutions to Global Challenges. Participants at the meeting reached a broad consensus on proposing the addition of a fourth pillar to focus on Innovation. The Joint Initiative is steered by Senior Officials for Research and Innovation from the participating countries and the European Commission. The last meeting took place in 2017.

EU-CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation Senior Officials Meeting tomorrow

Next Friday, October 30th, the EU-CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation Senior Officials Meeting will take place virtually, co-hosted by Maria Elena Álvarez-Buyilla, Director-General of Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), as CELAC Pro Tempore Presidency, and by Maria Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation, in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research & Innovation. Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, will deliver the keynote speech of the conference, together with Commissioner Marya Gabriel, from the European Union.

In the meeting, representatives from the European Commission’s General Secretariat and the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, together with Mexico’s Vice-minister of Prevention and Health Promotion, will present the joint response given to the global challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. Argentina’s Vice-minister of Planning and Studies, in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and representatives from the European Commission’s European Innovation Council Taskforce and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, will present the conclusions from the EU-CELAC Innovation Cooperation Conference 2019, discussing the consolidation of innovation as the fourth pillar of the Common Research Area. The future of the Common Research Area, and the potential collaboration opportunities under the new Horizon Europe programme, will also be the object of a discussion led by representatives of Peru’s National Council of Science, Technology and Technological Innovation (CONYCET) and the European Comission’s Directorate-General for Research & Innovation.

Additionally, the meeting will discuss the progress achieved and future prospects regarding some of the main points agreed in the last Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation Senior Officials Meetings (JIRI SOM), namely:

  • Research infrastructures: report on the achievements of the Working Group since the endorsement of its mandate by the 2017 JIRI SOM; action plan for the next months; promotion of linkages between RIs in the EU with the developing clusters in LAC; assessment of developments in the EU-LAC ResInfra project;
  • Mobility of researchers: current state; human capital development through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the Erasmus+ programme; available tools and instruments to improve mobility, training and doctoral programmes; development of a regional portal for researchers in CELAC;
  • Global challenges and cooperation in priority areas, including health, green transition, digital transformation and others.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity for the Heads of SOM Delegation to exchange comments and observations, and will conclude with closing remarks from the Co-chairs.