Last week, the 27th Ibero-American Summit was held in Andorra, this time with a mixed model, but attended by the highest representatives of Spain and Portugal, as well as Guatemala, the former presidency of the Ibero-American community, and the Dominican Republic, which takes over this responsibility from the host country.
The theme of the summit, identified even before the pandemic, could not be more appropriate: innovation for sustainable development. In fact, the biggest effort in just over a year has been innovation and research, which has made it possible to make vaccines available in an extraordinarily short time. Even in the summer of last year, there was no guarantee of a vaccine, while now we have the horizon for some who are already determined. However, it is important not to forget that the differences are becoming more evident and we will not all come out of the crisis the same way. The Secretary-General of the OEI, Mariano Gabonero, also emphasized that technology and digitization can accelerate recovery. In the Ibero-American region, the level of GDP has gone back ten years, and informal and precarious work, which was decreasing, has increased once again, removing hope for a decent life for large sectors of the population.
These are sufficient reasons to understand that responses cannot be individual, not even national. The time has shown the importance of supporting each other and implementing regional and global strategies. Multilateralism has proven to be an important tool, when some have declared it dead and worthless. International organizations work to create consensus and, above all, strive together to take measures that allow progress in the areas on which our collective destiny depends. The health crisis has made economic, social and environmental measures that speed up the recovery all the more urgent. Education, science and innovation are high on the agenda.
Today the third edition of what is considered the largest science, technology and innovation forum in Latin America and the Caribbean, which has chosen to discuss the role of these areas in the post-pandemic phase, concludes today. Topics such as artificial intelligence, digital economy, and climate change and its intertwining with public policies are presented as ways to build a new normal that can be more resilient and resilient to the coming crises. I highlight another central topic: the importance of open science that allows access to scientific information on a large scale.
Science, in addition to being an indispensable engine of development, has more than ever an impact on international relations and on the image of countries on the world stage. On the same scale, the prosperity and economic growth of countries depend on the ability to train and attract talent in the fields of science, technology and innovation as competitive advantages in the new world order. Therefore, it is important to democratize science and make it more inclusive, in order to ensure that its benefits reach everyone. Bilateral, regional and multilateral scientific cooperation should extend to all regions. Although there is a long tradition of scientific cooperation in the Ibero-American community, it has not been possible until now to take advantage of all the additional opportunities and benefits of this cooperation, which, increasingly, can and should be shared with other societies with emphasis. On CPLP, it is not only cultural proximity, as well as similar problems that they encounter.
If COVID-19 has brought science to the fore and we have become dependent on it to get out of the crisis, then access to vaccines has emphasized inequality in the world and the absolute need for science, technology and innovation to be a priority for all.
Director in Portugal of the Organization of Ibero-American States