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OAS at Ministerial Meeting in Panama Calls on Countries to Develop Science and Technology “in a consistent way”

  November 17, 2011

The Acting Executive Secretary for Integral Development of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jorge Saggiante, called today on governments of the region at the inauguration in Panama City of the Third Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities of Science and Technology from the Americas to assign greater resources for the development of science and technology “in a consistent way.”

“In addition to public investment, governments must create environments that generate adequate conditions for greater spending on research and development by the private sector,” said the high-level OAS official, who opened the two-day event alongside Panama’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge, Francisco Álvarez de Soto.

Secretary Saggiante recognized the commitment already undertaken by the Member States of the OAS on repeated occasions, and more recently at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, with science and technology and its strategic role in facing the region’s challenges. Nevertheless, he continued, “we have not yet successfully made science, technology and innovation into the principal motors for the development of Latin America and the Caribbean.” As an example he recalled that while North America, Asia and Europe contribute each more than 30 percent to investment in research and technology at the global level, Latin America and the Caribbean only contribute three percent.

In this sense, the OAS Secretary for Integral Development highlighted the need for governments “to continue improving education in science and engineering in the region to include global competencies and business abilities, and to help build a critical mass of human resources that is duly prepared and qualified,” and he recalled the relevant role the Organization plays in promoting development and the improvement of higher education in science, technology and innovation through programs such as “Engineering for the Americas (EftA).”

Finally, Secretary Saggiante made a call for coordinating joint efforts at the ministerial level on this matter. “Interaction and cooperation not only are with other regions in the world but, fundamentally, we must create further links among ourselves,” he said. In this context, he referred to the document, “Vision 20/25,” to be submitted for approval by the Ministers and High Authorities, as well as to its “Plan of Action,” as key instruments for collaboration towards “the future we want” and “how to work towards achieving it.”

For his part, Minister in charge Álvarez de Soto said “science, technology and innovation are the tools to be used so our peoples and businesses become more efficient and competitive, in a world that is ever more globalized, in such a way that the region continues to create wealth, because we cannot distribute wealth if we do not have it.”

Under the title of “Applied Science, Technology and Innovation: Knowledge for Competitiveness and Prosperity,” the Ministerial Meeting has as its goal to help achieve progress on science and technology in the region to improve competitiveness, by defining a series of objectives to be fulfilled by the year 2025. Also, it will be an opportunity to discuss the steps taken since the last ministerial meeting in Mexico City in 2008 and to elaborate recommendations for the Heads of State and Government for the Sixth Summit of the Americas, to be held in April 2012 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, with the theme of “Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity.”

Among the goals for the year 2025 to be studied at the meeting are: to develop in the Americas a culture of innovation based on technology that fosters integration, entrepreneurship and creative thinking; to increase, by at least 50 percent, the number of men and women that graduate from programs in science, technology, engineering and technical education. Furthermore, to substantially improve the study programs in different disciplines; to ensure that all Member States of the OAS have access to infrastructure services of internationally renowned quality; and to strengthen inter-American cooperation in the sector to achieve a more effective and fast-paced technological development in the region.

Among the participants who have confirmed their presence at the gathering in Panama City are the Ministers and High Authorities of Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Chile Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Participants also include representatives from organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the InterAmerican Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC), the International Road Federation (IRF), and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (I-CHASS), among others.

More information on this event is available here.

A gallery of photos of the event are available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-963/11