Updated June 7, 2001

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The Second Summit of the Americas once again endorsed hemispheric commitment to science and technology (S&T) as mandated by the Cartagena Declaration and Statement of Action. The Santiago Plan of Action underlined the central tenets of economic integration, free trade and sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on:

  1. strengthening the capacity of the countries in the Hemisphere to participate and benefit from the knowledge-based global economy; and
  2. promoting, among other actions, the growth of the communications and information industries as strategic components of national and regional integration processes.

At the Santiago Summit, parties pledged to use S&T in order to alleviate damages to economies and ecosystems caused by the effects of "El Niño".  Such damage mitigation could be achieved through various scientific and technological advents, such as:

The various parties once again agreed to promote actions to foster alliances among all sectors of society in order to advance cooperation and innovation in S&T. Such alliances would include the fomentation of university-industry relations, training in technology management and other human resource development programs, and the participation of small and medium-sized companies in achieving the above-mentioned goals.

Executive Secretariat for Integral Development

The first conference of the Inter-American Commission of Science and Technology was held in Bariloche, Argentina, August 10 -12, 1998, within the framework of CIDI. Issues such as the mission and function of the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology (COMCyT), science and technology priorities, and the future direction of S&T were discussed.

The member States presented the COMCyT chair with their observations and comments on the design of an Inter-American Science and Technology Program, which would serve as the channel for implementing the Santiago Plan of Action’s initiatives in the fields of science and technology. Argentina is currently chairing COMCyT.

Office of Science and Technology

The Office of Science and Technology will continue connecting academic institutions throughout the region to the Internet through its RedHUCyT program.  Already, countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay and the Central American nations have received their first Internet connections through the RedHUCyT program.

The Office will also continue the following programs:

Inter-American Program of Science and Technology

Over the years, the member States of the OAS have entrusted the Secretary General to foster political and financial support for activities in science and technology related to environmental and climatic change, including projects on topics such as the "El Niño" phenomenon.  The XXIX General Assembly of the OAS, which took place in Guatemala in June of 1999, approved the Inter-American Program of Science and Technology that establishes a frame of reference and prioritizes the lines of action for future development. The main objective of this Program is to use science, technology and innovation as tools for the promotion of economic and social development, as well as for the preservation of the environment.

Second Regular Session of the Inter-American Commission on Science and Technology

On October 26-27, 1999, the Office of Science and Technology organized, in conjunction with the Mexican National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT), the second regular meeting of the Inter-American Commission on Science and Technology, which took place in Acapulco, Mexico. It was here that the Director of the Office submitted a document entitled "Guidelines for Cooperation in Science and Technology at the OAS."  This served as a point of departure and basis for discussion among the delegates of member States on topics such as a hemispheric meeting of Ministers responsible for science and technology, the consolidation and centralization of the Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI), the acquirement of funds to supplement those of FEMCIDI, and technical coordination and leadership among member States in the areas of action defined by the Inter-American Science and Technology Program (PRICYT).  Delegates hoped that submitted project proposals could undergo preliminary evaluation, would be multilateral in scope, and have the greatest impact possible for the countries of the region, in particular, small economies. The Office of Science and Technology served as the Technical Secretariat of this second meeting of COMCYT.

At the meeting, delegates approved a series of resolutions.  They called for the 'First Hemispheric Meeting of Ministers responsible for Science and Technology within the scope of CIDI', to be held at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. in the year 2001.  They also defined the relationship between the Common Market of Scientific and Technological Knowledge (MERCOCYT) and COMCYT.  Finally, they assigned two countries to serve as co-coordinators in each action area of PRICYT.  PRICYT is responsibile for:

On October 26, 1999, the 7th meeting of the Permanent Commission of MERCOCYT was held in Acapulco, Mexico. This meeting discussed the ways in which scientific and technological knowledge was exchanged and disseminated among the Organization’s member states. A bulletin containing information on MERCOCYT’s activities was distributed among the participants, and this four-language publication will later be sent to institutions in the Organization’s member states.

The Hemisphere-wide Science and Technology Project (RedHUCyT)

The Hemisphere-wide Science and Technology Project (RedHUCyT), continued its support to the development of the Internet and Information Technologies in the region. In particular it funded a project in Nicaragua to plan, develop and install networks and network connections in the following institutions:

RedHUCyT’s financial support enabled these institutions to purchase modems, routers, network cards and network software for their new network system, which will allow them to connect to the Internet. RedHUCyT also sponsored the Second Central-American Workshop on Network Security as well as a Security Seminar for governmental institutions.  The Panamanian National Secretariat for Science and Technology (SENACyT) coordinated both events.

The Information on Science and Technology Project, INFOCyT, a subproject of RedHUCyT, expanded its activities in the region with the inclusion of El Salvador to the list of countries that host the system. Currently, INFOCyT is hosted in Chile, El Salvador, and Guatemala with a mirror site at the OAS. These projects were funded by CIDI through RedHUCyT.

Other Institutions

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has been active in promoting technological and scientific innovation in agriculture. In order to achieve this goal, the IICA has collaborated with member States in the following areas:

The Inter-American Development Bank

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has supported the Summit's initiatives in the area of science and technology on two fronts:

  1. the development of a Bank strategy in the sector; and
  2. the establishment of special initiatives to deal with the impact of weather phenomena (i.e. "El Niño") in the region.

IDB lending in science and technology has also been useful. It has helped to boost human and physical infrastructure, strengthen science funding agencies, encourage private-sector investment in research and development through technology-development funds and support individual research institutions.

Metrology, Standards, Accreditation, and Quality

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) requires a technical infrastructure to facilitate trade and commerce in the Hemisphere. The activities carried out in the framework of the projects related to metrology, standards, accreditation, and quality, are contributing, in a considerable manner, to obtain this infrastructure needed.

The following activities were carried out, between November 1999 to March 2000, under the project "Physical and Chemical Metrology for the Americas: Developing and Establishing Measurement Capabilities within the Inter-American Metrology System (SIM)."

The following activities were carried out within the framework of the project "Standardization, Accreditation, and Quality for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises," IAAC (Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation):

In the area of quality, a meeting between a German government representative and the Regional Coordinator of the OAS/GTZ Project, was held at the Office of Science and Technology, in Washington, DC, on November 15-16, 1999. During this meeting, project activities performed during 1997-1999 period were evaluated, especially activities related to the eighth goal of the project’s program carried out by INEN (Ecuador), CIT (Argentina), and LATU (Uruguay). 

Third Regular Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology

On October 5-6, 2000, the Third Regular Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology took place in Washington D.C.  The delegates who were present at the meeting adopted numerous proposals, some of which have a special importance in the preparation for the 2001 Summit of the Americas:

These agreements were published in a document entitled, "Agreements Approved by the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology."  To read the full report, click here.

The mandates and initiatives for science and technology were reinvigorated and fortified at the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.  For more information on these mandates, and to continue with follow up activities in this area, please see the following Quebec City mandate:

Updated June 7, 2001

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