As the world strives to deliver joint responses to common challenges, from crushing pandemics to tackling climate change, organisations that encourage research cooperation between regional partners are needed more than ever and united in a common cause. This bond was reaffirmed by EURAXESS Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), which took part in a recent high-level meeting of the EU-CELAC Joint Initiative.
The two Regional Representatives from EURAXESS LAC were invited to participate in the ‘EU-CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation Senior Officials Meeting’ (JIRI SOM) hosted digitally on 30 October 2020 by Mexico, as CELAC’s current Pro-Tempore Presidency. According to the delegates, EURAXESS was mentioned several times during the meeting, including in a section of the proceedings dedicated to researcher mobility.
The JIRI brings together the Latin American and Caribbean States, EU Member States and the European Commission to boost cooperation based on a Common Research Area made up of three pillars – researcher mobility, cooperation on research infrastructures, and efforts to find solutions to global challenges. And participants at the meeting reached a broad consensus on the need for a fourth pillar focusing on innovation.
More than 160 delegates from 40 countries participated in the meeting, which was co-chaired by Maria Elena Alvarez-Buylla, Director General of Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), who also represented the Pro-Tempore Presidency of CELAC, and by Maria Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation at DG Research and Innovation (European Commission).
The meeting was addressed by Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and by Commissioner Gabriel who is responsible for innovation, research, culture, education and youth at the European Commission. They both welcomed the consensus among the participants on the relaunch of the EU-CELAC JIRI with ambitious science, technology and innovation actions to address pressing global issues and achieve fair, inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.
Nicolás Malo Corral, Ecuador’s Undersecretary of Science, Innovation and Technology Transfer, called for a more structured, permanent and solid dialogue between the academic and non-academic R&I institutions from both regions, and offered several proposals to achieve this:
- Promote available funding opportunities from all sectors through webinars, information sessions and other events.
- Exchange information on funded projects in the areas of common interest.
- Strengthen the network of National Contact Points (NCPs) through training to enhance cooperation and promote greater participation in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), Erasmus+ and other relevant funding instruments.
- Strengthen ongoing initiatives such as EURAXESS LAC.
- Reach out to the alumni associations of the MSCA, Erasmus+ and the equivalent CELAC instruments to develop proactive alumni in the region.
Music to the ears…
“These sound proposals came as music to our ears as we have been actively engaging in all of the points mentioned by the Undersecretary,” remarked the EURAXESS LAC team after attending the meeting. The following actions have been performed: (1) promoting mobility programmes which make the European Research Area more attractive; (2) building a strong community of researchers in the region; (3) offering information sessions on European funding opportunities and career development workshops; and (4) collaborating with the local and European NCP networks, the MSCA community and Erasmus+ alumni.
Senior officials at the meeting reached an informed consensus on the future steps to be taken, which are reflected in the 2021-2023 Strategic Roadmap, a draft of which will be submitted for approval. Once these procedures are completed, a joint announcement by the CELAC-PPT and the European Commission will confirm the status of the document.
For the EURAXESS LAC team, the meeting also served as a valuable reminder of the common bonds that tie research organisations and communities in all regions together and reinforced the importance of researcher mobility and knowledge-sharing in tackling the biggest challenges facing the world.