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Fourth Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities of Science and Technology of the OAS in Guatemala Opens with a Call for Countries to Increase Investments in the Area

  March 11, 2015

The Fourth Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities on Science and Technology (REMCYT, for its initials in Spanish), organized by the Organization of American States (OAS) whose theme is "Inclusive Innovation: Keys to reduce inequality and increase productivity in the region" opened in Guatemala City with a call to the countries of the region to increase their budgets in the fields of science and technology.

The main objective of the meeting is to set a hemispheric cooperation agenda under the framework of The Plan of Action of Guatemala 2016-2020, that the OAS member countries will discuss during the event and eventually approve on Wednesday March 11, at the conclusion of the ministerial meeting. The basic document of the Plan of Action of Guatemala 2016-2020 continues and promotes the objectives and work carried out under the Plan of Action of Panama, which was adopted at the Third Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities on Science and Technology in Panama 2011, and which identifies four pillars: Innovation; Human Resources, Education and Training; National Quality Infrastructure; and Technological Development.

The meeting was opened by the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, and the National Secretary of Science and Technology of Guatemala, Armando Pokus. In his speech, Ambassador Ramdin called on governments in the region to invest in science and technology, in order to achieve sustained development for all the people of the Hemisphere.

In addition, the senior OAS official noted that Latin America and the Caribbean are far behind compared to other regions in allocating resources to science and technology. "It is critical to increase political attention and budget allocation for science and technology as a vehicle to boost productivity, exports and competitiveness. Without this approach, the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean will not reach the levels of growth needed to create prosperity for all," he said.

Ambassador Ramdin said that while Japan and Sweden invest an average of 3.36 and 3.4 percent of their GDP in research and development, and OECD countries averaging around 2.4% of GDP; in sharp contrast, the majority of countries of the Americas are investing less than 1%, and in some cases, less than 0.1%.

Ambassador Ramdin also emphasized the enormous differences within the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean when allocating funds to science and technology. "Only two countries account for over 90 percent of the production of new PhDs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Brazil generates more than 70 percent of doctorates in the region, followed by Mexico, which generates more than 20 percent."

For his part, Secretary Pokus said Western Hemisphere countries share common challenges and needs, focusing on issues such as education, health, economy, security, and environment. However, he expressed the need for governments to grant greater importance to science, technology and innovation, as "these transversal axes can provide creative solutions to major problems."

In this regard, Minister Pokus urged the ministers and officials of science and technology of the region to coordinate joint actions to optimize the results of the investment made in science and technology, and return home to promote those actions.

During one of the plenaries of the meeting, the Permanent Representative of Suriname to the OAS and Chair of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI), Niermala Badrising, congratulated the government of Guatemala for having chosen as the theme of the meeting "Inclusive Innovation: Keys to reduce inequality and increase productivity in the region." "This issue is not only timely but - indeed - very relevant in light of the key interests, expressed by our OAS member states during various encounters," said the Surinamese diplomat, adding that the theme of the event "is also befitting within the context of the OAS Strategic Vision."

Ambassador Badrising highlighted the importance of ministerial meetings, noting that they "serve as mechanisms to promote multilateral collaboration, in order to build sustainable long-term opportunities so as to achieve inclusive economic and social development for all OAS member states, in particular for the smaller economies.”

For her part, OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development (SEDI), Sherry Tross, said the main question that the participants in the meeting should ask is: "What do we want to achieve with this meeting, and what can we do in a concrete way to move towards that aim of improving the competitiveness of our region and supporting our people to optimize their chances at the local, regional and even global level?”

The head of the SEDI said that the challenges facing the region in terms of growth, social inclusion and sustainable development cannot be solved in one day or in one forum. "These are global issues that require cooperation, mutual support, a regional vision and long-term collective action. It will require continuous dialogue and cooperation in a strategic hemispheric framework if we are to transform political decisions into action and help create lasting human and institutional capacities. And we must build models of sustainable public-private partnership to promote greater cooperation between governmental institutions, the private sector, academia and civil society," she added.

During the first day of the event, Secretary Pokus was elected Chair of the ministerial meeting, while the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Jerrol Thomas, was elected Vice Chair.

REMCYT is the meeting that brings together Ministers and High Level Authorities on Science and Technology from OAS member states, as well as representatives from international organizations, civil society, research centers, universities and the private sector.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-076/15