CO-CHAIRS’ STATEMENT First Meeting of the Working Group on Education, Science and Technology “Fostering Innovation: The Bridge between Education and Creative Development in Science and Technology” A Strategic Workshop in Education, Science and Technology under the Auspices of FEALAC 4-5 June, Shine Dome, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra, ACT
1. The first meeting of the Education, Science and Technology Working Group of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) was held at the Australian Academy of Science, Canberra on 4-5 June 2002. The meeting was convened as directed by FEALAC Ministers at their first meeting in Santiago, Chile on 29-30 March 2001.
2. The meeting was attended by delegates from Argentina, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam2.
3. The meeting was opened by the Hon Peter McGauran MP, the Australian Minister for Science.
4. The meeting adopted as its theme, “Fostering Innovation: The Bridge Between Education and Creative Development in Science and Technology”, and combined plenary sessions with smaller group discussions on three sub-themes, each facilitated by experts. The sub-themes were “Knowledge and Information Access”, “Human Resources and Capacity Building”, and “Barriers to Innovation”.
Objective of the Meeting
5. The objective of the meeting, as directed by Ministers in Santiago, was to identify synergies and common challenges facing the two regions in order to propose areas for possible future cooperation in education and science and technology. The meeting also sought to make recommendations on a few practical, Forum-wide projects, while avoiding duplication with existing work in other regional and international forums.
6. In presentations during plenary sessions and in the reports by facilitators of each of the sub-groups, a number of common themes and issues emerged. These were:
a) The desirability of making use of, and linking, existing networks, including science communication networks and Asia Pacific Studies Centres in Latin America and Latin American Studies Centres in East Asia. In this regard, all members were invited to attend the annual meeting of the Network of Latin American Asia Pacific Studies Centres later this year in Brazil. (Although final details of this meeting are yet to be confirmed, it is expected to take place at the headquarters of the Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Buenos Aires from 12-13 December 2002.)
b) The importance of relationship building and people-to-people contacts, including the possibility of scholarships or virtual scholarships to students, teachers, researchers, scientists and others working in the sphere of education, science and technology. Exchanges of young graduates could assist industry, particularly SMEs, develop networks between the two regions.
c) The desirability of raising public awareness of FEALAC and its objectives. Journalist and media visits between the two regions, which are already being undertaken as part of national projects by some FEALAC members, should be further encouraged and coordinated among member countries.
d) The desirability of raising FEALAC members’ awareness of the education, science and technology activities of other organisations, including, inter alia, the relevant work of APEC, available from the APEC Secretariat at www.apecsec.org.sg, and whether similar information is available for other relevant fora.
e) The desirability of taking advantage of opportunities to organise side meetings, where appropriate and feasible, of FEALAC members, or clusters of members with similar interests, at major international meetings including meetings under the United Nations and other multilateral fora such as the World Maritime Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the Antarctica Science Group and the International Olympic Committee.
f) The desirability of optimising the use of current information technology, particularly the Internet, where possible, for information exchange and other initiatives, such as showcasing national science and technology products and capacity.
Possible Areas for Cooperation
7. The meeting acknowledged that areas of cooperation could be separated into three broad categories: (a) cooperation consistent with the objectives of FEALAC, but already taking place independently of promotion by the Working Group; (b) cooperation that would require only a limited commitment of resources to bring to fruition under FEALAC, and which would not need endorsement by the next Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in order to commence; and (c) more substantial cooperative projects which would require consideration by the next SOM or the next Ministerial Meeting.
a) Existing Links and Cooperation.5
Specific examples discussed during the Working Group Meeting included:
- Organisations in several East Asian countries that have been working to disseminate information about Latin America through seminars and other activities for a considerable time. In this regard, the meeting welcomed the Philippines’ national project for a Consortium for Latin American Studies6 . Like the ongoing projects in the region the project aims to build and further enhance awareness of Latin America through seminars, workshops, cultural events and exchanges. (The meeting encouraged the Consortium to forge links and form networks with existing programs in FEALAC countries to that end.)
- Ongoing exchange programs that are being conducted by several East Asian countries for Latin American journalists. The meeting welcomed Singapore’s initiative for the launch of a similar program through its national project for a Latin America’s Journalist Visit Programme. (The meeting encouraged such programs to be expanded and include visits by journalists specialising in the education, science and technology sectors.)
- Wide ranging links and cooperation between the regions at the level of individuals and institutions, including student and researcher exchanges, information sharing and joint research. Some of these activities were identified in FEALAC members’ responses to the education and science and technology surveys conducted by Mr Roger Frankel and Professor Greg Tegart in preparing their respective reports for the Working Group Meeting7.
- The Japanese Language Programme for Foreign Service Officers from East Asia and Latin America. Under the programme, young diplomats from various regions are invited to Japan to study the Japanese language and culture for nine months. For the last three years, Japan has invited twenty nine diplomats from FEALAC member countries.
b) Proposals Achievable Without SOM Endorsement
- There was widespread agreement that a FEALAC website for education, science and technology should be established. Australia has offered to host a “parent” FEALAC education, science and technology website. It is proposed that each country could establish and maintain its own FEALAC education, science and technology website with links to its own education and scientific institutions, other relevant sites, and showing responses to the education and science and technology surveys commissioned by Australia8 . The parent site to be hosted by Australia would have links to the FEALAC education, science and technology websites to be established by each country. It was suggested that, where practical, these country web pages should be in both English and Spanish, or otherwise in English and the country’s national language. Australia will approach individual FEALAC countries to seek assistance in implementing this proposal.
- A list of national FEALAC contact points can be established for the dissemination of relevant information regarding education, science and technology, including in relation to establishing the national websites referred to above, as well as for general coordination purposes on FEALAC matters.
- The meeting encouraged FEALAC countries to participate in the next annual meeting of the Network of Latin American Asia Pacific Studies Centres which is to take place in Brazil later in 2002. (As already noted above, although final details of this meeting are yet to be confirmed, it is expected to take place at the headquarters of the Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Buenos Aires from 12-13 December 2002.) In addition, the meeting encouraged the establishment of an Asia Pacific Network of Latin American Studies Centers.
(c) Proposals for Consideration at the next SOM or Ministerial Meeting
- As proposed by Argentina, collaboration in natural disaster management and environmental issues through the use of space technology.
- As proposed by Thailand, encouragement of a linking of the “Clean Air Initiative Program for Latin America” and the “Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities”, into a “Clean Air Initiative for Asian and Latin American Cities”. This would facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experiences in air quality management and regulatory frameworks among countries of the two regions.
- Increasing participation in, and commitment to, existing multilateral mechanisms such as the UNESCO conventions on the recognition of qualifications, where appropriate and feasible. In this regard, an inventory of qualifications recognition systems and best practice sharing could be established in the education, science and technology sectors in each member country.
- Noting that numbers of Asian students studying in Latin America and of Latin American students studying in Asia could be higher, and given the importance of people-to-people exchanges, it was proposed by Japan that FEALAC members adopt a declaration recommending that each member country draft an action plan designed to increase the number of East Asian or Latin American students studying in their country. Together with this, FEALAC member governments could encourage a network among students who have experience in studying in FEALAC member countries. Such a network could contribute to maintaining interest in the country in which they were studying.
8. Other opportunities for collaboration were identified in education, science and technology in the following areas, but it was agreed that these proposals should be further considered at a second meeting of the Working Group:
- sustainable fisheries, forestry and agriculture;
- El Nino and its economic consequences, particularly for members of FEALAC;
- natural disasters;
- biodiversity and common efforts for the study, conservation and sustainable use of both regions’ rich and unique natural resources and biodiversity;
- construction of networks to promote research on issues common to both regions, noting the example of the UN University, which promotes networks with other academic institutions to implement research in the fields of peace and governance, the environment, development and science and technology, and which also promotes capacity building and the diffusion of knowledge; and
development and science and technology, and which also promotes capacity building and the diffusion of knowledge; and - creation of a FEALAC Senior Volunteers Data Bank, containing information on people with experience in the education, science and technology sectors who wish to work in FEALAC member countries as senior volunteers. This information could be placed on members’ FEALAC education, science and technology websites, once established.
Next Working Group Meeting
9. It has been proposed that a second meeting of the Working Group be held in Costa Rica to further consider relevant issues prior to the second Ministerial Meeting to be held in the Philippines in 2003 at a date and venue to be decided. FEALAC members will be advised of details of the second meeting of the Working Group following further consultations between the co-Chairs.
Next Senior Officials’ Meeting in Colombia
10. The Fourth Senior Officials’ Meeting will be held in Colombia from 28-30 October 2002. The agreed outcomes of the first meeting of the Education, Science and Technology Working Group will be presented at this SOM.
11. The meeting expressed its appreciation to the co-Chairs of the Working Group, Australia and Costa Rica.
12. The meeting also expressed its appreciation to the Government of Australia for the excellent arrangements and warm hospitality accorded all delegations.
1. Co-Chairs’ Statement, I Ministerial Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation, Santiago, Chile, 29-30 March 2001, paragraph 21. The Co-Chairs’ Statement is available at: http://www.minrel.cl/focalae/Co-Chairs-Statement.htm
2. A list of delegates is attached.
3. The program for the meeting is attached.
4. Co-Chairs’ Statement, paragraph 18.
5. A list of existing national projects is attached, see also Co-Chairs’ Report, First Ministerial Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation, Santiago, Chile, 29-30 March 2001, pp. 127-130 and pp.165-168. The Co-Chairs’ Report is available at: http://www.minrel.cl/focalae/
6. Co-Chairs’ Report, p. 195
7. See “FEALAC: The Education Sector” by Roger Frankel and “Patterns of Innovation Across FEALAC countries” by Professor Greg Tegart. The reports are available at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/fealac/
8. See footnote 6.