Cartagena de Indias, Colombia was the chosen location to hold the 23rd ICSU ROLAC Regional Committee Meeting (RCLAC23) and ICSU’s Regional Offices meeting. The RCLAC23 took place on April 9-10 and the Regional Offices Meeting took place on April 10-12, 2018. These meetings were organized by the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean of ICSU, along with the important support of the Colombian Academy of Sciences, and ICSU headquarters. The meetings were attended by ICSU ROLAC’s Regional Committee Members, Focal Points, and Secretariat; Regional offices of Africa and Asia; ICSU Headquarters, ISSC Representatives, and various experts, listed later on this article.
Besides having the presence of 5 regional committee members: Juan Jaen, Liliam Alvarez, Ana Rada, German Poveda, and Paloma González (liaison), many ICSU ROLAC’s focal points could also participate: Enrique Forero, Fabio Zuluaga, Yobai Velazco, and Marcela Macias (Colombia); Carmen Samayoa (Guatemala); Mario Lanza (Honduras); Pedro Leon Azofeifa (Costa Rica); Jorge Tezon (Argentina); Luis Scheker (Dominican Republic); Ana Pastor (Peru); Janzel Villalaz (Panama); Carmen Cisneres (Mexico); and Erlinda Hándal (El Salvador). In addition to these two groups, the meeting also welcomed participants from ICSU ROA, ICSU ROAP, ICSU HQ, the ISSC, Marcos Cortesao, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences; and Marta Losada from the International Center for Theoretic Physics (ICTP).
This important aimed at (1) having a further understanding of the ICSU-ISSC merger, and its implication to the ROLAC and its focal points; as well as (2) creating a forum to analyze and discuss ICSU ROLAC’s priority areas and programs for the region.
On the first day of this activity, Enrique Forero, President of the Colombian Academy of sciences; Heide Hackmann, ICSU’s Executive Director; and Manuel Limonta, ICSU ROLAC’s Regional Director welcomed all participants to the meeting and briefly explained the importance, and relevance of it. Then, all participants introduced themselves, and the agenda was adopted with some minor changes. Then, all participants could hear Heide Hackman inform members of the Committee and focal points about the recent merger between ICSU and the ISSC. Her presentation was later followed by Q/A session in which all participants could express themselves and ask for further information regarding the said merger. Soon after, participants could hear various presentations about ICSU ROLAC’s priority areas and programs: Open Data (Jorge Tezon); Scientific Diaspora (Manuel Limonta); INGSA (Oscar Reyes); and Teaching of Mathematics (Liliam Álvarez). Finally, day one concluded with a presentation of the Vice Minister of Science and Technology of El Salvador, Dr. Erlinda Hándal who presented an update of the advance of Science and Technology in El Salvador, and opportunities for interaction and cooperation with El Salvador. Dr. Hándal’s presentation was highly welcomed and congratulated for the great efforts and advancement of STI in El Salvador.
On the second day of the meeting, Franz Gaztweiler, executive director of the global interdisciplinary programme on “Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment: A Systems Analysis Approach” presented about Urban Health’s program past, present and future initiatives for the ROLAC region. Then, Manuel Limonta presented the attendees about activities carried out in all priority areas, and also about outreach activities. Then, the communications and financial report were presented. Finally, before wrapping up the meeting, a series of formal points were addressed, such as follow up on decisions from last RCLAC, agreements reached, recommendations from general discussions, and alike. In conclusion, this one-and-a-half-day meeting successfully updated all participants about the ICSU-ISSC merger, and ICSU ROLAC’s priority areas and programs. In addition to this, the meeting provided all participants the perfect opportunity to interact and find common ground areas for present and future joint endeavors.
Regional Offices Meeting
Right after the end of the RCLAC 23 and focal points meeting, ICSU headquarters, its three regional offices (ROA, ROAP, and ROLAC) had the chance to meet for the first time after ICSU’s general assembly which also included the participation of the ISSC. The meeting started in the afternoon of April 10th and concluded on April 12th, 2018.
The meeting had three main objectives: To inform regional offices and regional committee chairs about the approaching merger of ICSU and the ISSC and the high-level strategy of the International Science Council.
To understand the similarities and differences between the ICSU regional offices and the European grouping of ICSU members, including in relation to the ISSC’s regional set-up.
To gain insight into the various aspirations, goals, and capacities of the regional offices as well as obstacles facing them, and to identify near-term priorities, opportunities, and challenges for the ISC.
Participants of this meeting are listed below:
Heide Hackmann: Executive Director, ICSU HQ
Charles Erkelens: Operations Director, ICSU HQ
Mathieu Denis: Executive Director, ISSC
Sarah Moore: Transformations to Sustainability Programme Coordinator, ISSC
Samuel Babatunde Agbola, Regional Committee Chair, ICSU ROA
Daniel Nyanganyura, Regional Director, ICSU ROA
Richard Glover, Programme Specialist, ICSU ROA
Mazlan Othman, Regional Director, ICSU ROAP
Tengku-Sharizad Tengku-Dahlan, Senior Science Officer, ICSU ROAP
Ahmad Sufyan Mohd Aslam, Programme Officer, ICSU ROAP
Manuel Limonta, Regional Director, ICSU ROLAC
Juan Jaen, Regional Committee Chair, ICSU ROLAC
Claudia Marroquín, Liasion Officer, ICSU ROLAC
Oscar Reyes, Science Officer, ICSU ROLAC
On the first day of this meeting, participants could first hear an intro to ISC high-level strategy; and an overview of current regional strategies of ICSU and ISSC. Then, Regional Offices could present their mission, objectives, activities, priorities, challenges, opportunities (current and near-term), and how they work: structure, relations with ICSU members, partnerships, and alike. Then on the second day of the meeting, participants could hear Juerg Pfister (Via Skype), Secretary General of Swiss Academy of Sciences SCNAT, who provided input on the European model of organizing its ICSU members and their mode of co-operation. Finally, on the last day of the meeting, all participants engaged on visioning and brainstorming towards a regional strategy for the new International Science, focusing on new processes, coordination and collaboration across HQ and ROs, role and expectations of each of the parties, measures of success, and alike.
In conclusion, these two meetings represented a strategic success since it allowed ICSU HQ, along with its three regional offices, and the ISSC to have a first face-to-face encounter in order to initiate dialogue and learn from each other. The meeting has certainly set a starting point for the new International Science Council to set ground basis on the new strategy, taking into consideration perspectives, challenges, and opportunities from all involved participants. Finally, it was agreed to continue the communication within the group in order to further advance towards the goal of being the global voice for science.