Tobago - May 2005
The Steering Committee of IANAS held its second meeting in Tobago, on May 12 th of 2005. Held under the auspices of the Caribbean Scientific Union, the meeting appraised the two ongoing programmes and approved the establishment of two new initiatives: the Capacity Building for Academies in the Americas Programme, which will be co-chaired by the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences, and a study on S&T Policies for Development, which will be led by the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.
STEERING COMMITTE MEETING
Thursday, May 12 th , 2005 Scarborough , Tobago
• Welcome and Introductions
• Minutes of the Previous Meeting
• Science Education Programme
• Water Programme
• Future Initiatives for Consideration
(a) S&T Policy
(b) Capacity Building for Academies
• Academic Roundtable (June 3, 2005)
• Communication (Web, Bulletin, etc)
• Other Business
List of Participants
Caribbean Scientific Union
C/o Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science
The University of the West Indies
St. Augustine ? Trinidad & Tobago
Tel : +1 868 663 5812
Fax : +1 868 645 7132
Brazilian Academy of Sciences
Rua Anfilófio de Carvalho 29/3
20030-060 Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Brazil
Phone: +55 11 3091 3839
Fax: +55 11 3091 3839
Royal Society of Canada
283 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario - Canada KIR 7X9
Phone: +1 613 562 5270
Fax: +1 613 562 5271
Chilean Academy of Sciences
Almirante Montt 454
Santiago - Centro
Phone: +56 2 664 41 96
Fax: +56 2 638 2847
Marcos Cortesão Barnsley Scheuenstuhl
IANAS ? Brazilian Secretariat
Office of International Affairs
Brazilian Academy of Sciences
Rua Anfilófio de Carvalho 29/3
20030-060 - Rio de Janeiro RJ - Brazil
Phone: +55 21 3212 2419
Fax: +55 21 3212 2401
US National Academy of Sciences
Office of the Foreign Secretaries
500th Street, NW
Washington DC 20001 - USA
Phone: +1 202 334 2800
Fax: +1 202 334 2139
Director of the Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences
Paris - France
Tel : +33 1 45683930 / 45683949
Fax : +33 1 45685821
Report on the Second Meeting of the IANAS Steering Committee
Thursday, May 12 th , 2005
Caribbean Scientific Union Scarborough, Tobago
Hernan Chaimovich (Brazilian Academy of Sciences); Howard Alper (Royal Society of Canada); Harold Ramkissoon (The Caribbean Scientific Union); Juan Asenjo (Chilean Academy of Sciences); Michael Clegg (National Academy of Sciences); Maciej Nalecz (Director, Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences, UNESCO); Marcos Cortesão Barnsley Scheuenstuhl (IANAS - Brazilian Secretariat).
Unable to Attend
Claudio Bifano (Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural Sciences of Venezuela); Octavio Paredes (Mexican Academy of Sciences).
The meeting was convened at 8:30 a.m.
• Welcome and Introductions
The session was opened by Howard Alper, who welcomed the participants and thanked the Caribbean Scientific Union for kindly hosting the second meeting of the Steering Committee (SC) of IANAS. He expressed his satisfaction with the evolution of the current programmes (Science Education and Water) and recognized that much has been accomplished since the last meeting of the SC, held in Ottawa this past November. H. Alper also stressed that besides appraising the actions of the network, this meeting had the key challenge of designing the coming development of IANAS. He then invited Harold Ramkissoon, as President of the host academy, to make a few welcome words to the members of the SC.
Harold Ramkissoon thanked H. Alper for giving him the floor, declaring that it was a great honor for the Caribbean Scientific Union to host this meeting. Ramkissoon stressed that the Caribbean region as a whole suffers from several problems that are common to developing countries. It is a challenge to the scientific community to help in the alleviation of the burdens that afflict local populations, and IANAS and its member academies can significantly contribute towards the fulfillment of this goal. In spite of the fact that the Caribbean is a poor region, it has already given some important contributions in the area of S&T. From a per capita perspective, one could say that the region has been extremely successful, being the home of three Nobel Prize laureates. In closing, H. Ramkissoon commented that evidently this does not reflect the real situation of regional S&T. There is a big need for support and investments. He urged that the more developed countries helped the less developed in the overcoming of their problems.
Hernan Chaimovich then addressed the members of the SC reinforcing what H. Alper had already stressed. Besides the two programmes, IANAS has also participated actively in regional policy making, playing an important role in S&T debate in the hemisphere. In January 2005 IANAS participated on the OAS roundtable ?Creating Employment to Confront Poverty and Strengthen Democracy?, held in Washington. Then in February IANAS coordinated an OAS virtual forum on ?Civil Society on Science, Technology and Innovation?. These two activities are intended to prepare recommendations on the role of S,T&I for development in the Americas, with a focus on the creation of employment to confront poverty and strengthen democratic governance. These are the central themes of the Fourth Summit of the Americas to be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, this coming November, and to which IANAS has already been invited to participate.
• Minutes of The Previous Meeting
The second item on the agenda was the discussion and approval of the minutes of the previous meeting of the SC, held in Ottawa on November. These have been sent to the members of the SC by e-mail in December. Although no comments on the distributed version were received, the report needs formal consideration by the SC.
Howard Alper asked the members of the SC if all had read the report and if there were any corrections or addendums. With no comments, the minutes were approved.
• Science Education Programme
The analysis of the IANAS Science Education Programme was initiated by Juan Asenjo, who delivered a presentation prepared by Jorge Allende highlighting what has been done and what are the future actions of the programme. Having been established only one year ago, the programme was extremely successful in getting all the seventeen IANAS academies involved on the initiative.
J. Asenjo summarized the general objective of the programme as the improvement of the level and relevance of science education in the hemisphere. This will be done through the active participation of science academies and the most prominent scientists in the nations of the Americas, working together with teachers and educational authorities. In essence, specific objectives of the programme are:
(1) to promote collaboration and synergism in the implementation of science education projects sponsored by science academies in the countries of the Americas;
(2) t o stimulate the sharing of materials and experiences among projects dedicated to Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE);
(3) to generate common methods, mechanisms and guidelines to evaluate the progress of the individual projects; and
(4) to create a forum for the discussion of optimal materials and methods that should be used in science education.
He then listed the major activities through which action will be developed. These are as follows:
• Exchange of science education materials: The programme will encourage the exchange of education materials financing the purchase and shipment of prototype materials (modules, kits) from one country to another. It will also encourage the exchange of published teacher and student guides, textbooks, CDs, etc. The participating academies that have intellectual property ownership of some of these materials are encouraged to freely license or waive payment for their use by other members of IANAS.
(b) IANAS Courses and Workshops for teacher training: These courses will provide openings to qualified applicants from other countries of the Americas in addition to the host country. These courses should in general include theoretical as well as practical learning and should last a minimum of one week. These courses should provide fellowships to the foreign selected participants and ideally should include lecturers and professors from several countries in the hemisphere.
(c) IANAS Strategic Planning Workshops: These workshops are designated to prepare multidisciplinary teams from countries, states or educational districts who are planning to introduce IBSE-projects in their schools. These week-long workshops provide these multidisciplinary teams with an in-depth exposure to the collective experience of successful project leaders. Partial fellowships will be provided to the participating foreign multidisciplinary teams. Similarly, prototype materials may also be acquired.
(d) IANAS short-term fellowships on science education: A limited number of fellowships will be offered to science teachers or scientists to visit other countries to learn specific aspects of science education methods. These fellowships may last from a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of three months, providing for economy class air travel and partial coverage of living expenses. The sending and receiving institutions are expected to cost-share the remaining expenses. Candidates will be selected in a competitive call on the basis of their CVs, the value of their proposed training, their educational activities and geographic distribution.
(e) IANAS Exchange of Education Experts: Member academies can request funds to cover the travel and living expenses of experts from another country of the Americas who will participate in a bona fide activity of science education in the host country. Stays of three to fifteen days can be covered by the programme.
(f) Joint Evaluation Initiatives: One of the most challenging aspects of IBSE projects is to obtain a valid evaluation of the achievement of their original goals. It is, therefore, advisable to generate mechanisms that can serve to assess these projects at the international level. Recently, an International Workshop in Santiago extensively discussed this problem and its complexity and recommended the establishment of an international project to generate such a mechanism. Additionally, it seems pertinent to support research projects that study different aspects of evaluation. These projects will be supported by the IANAS Project only in their international components.
• IANAS Forum on Science Education: This forum will promote interest and discussion about science education and about new methods and approaches in this field. This Forum will be organized into two parts: (1) An Internet Discussion Group that will serve as an open venue for the free exchange of ideas, opinions and new concepts. As a link to this portal, there should be relevant data banks on science education materials, results, evaluations, as well as question and answer corners for teachers and students; (2) An Annual Conference on Science Education that will rotate in different countries of the hemisphere. These conferences will allow social and political leaders to focus their attention on the importance of this topic, let alone on the urgency to support initiatives to improve the level of science education in member countries.
Juan Asenjo then explained that the programme will be coordinated by a Council, comprising one representative from each participating academy. This council meets annually to decide upon the major policies and activities, which will be proposed to the network's General Assembly. The Council also appoints an Executive Coordinator, who is responsible for the implementation of the Council's decisions. At the national level, each participating academy shall have a science education committee composed of academy members, educators and governmental authorities. It is essential that these national committees develop contact with the Ministries of Education.
In closing, J. Asenjo listed the meetings already held under the programme and those that are planned for 2005 and 2006. From what has already been done, the lesson that prevails is that the experience has been successful due to four major factors: there was local experience where the activities were developed; there was local support for at least the national component; the topics were of general interest to the region; and the amounts requested were moderate. These aspects shall be in taken into consideration while planning future activities.
H. Chaimovich pointed out that indeed this was an extremely successful initiative and this can be perceived by the fact that IAP itself has proposed to finance the programme directly. Action plans under this programme have become so vast that if they were to depend exclusively on IANAS funds the programme would not be viable. H. Chaimovich also noted that international experience has demonstrated the importance of external evaluation, although this comes at a price. As a suggestion, the programme should consider the possibility of allocating approximatively 5% of its budget to fund evaluation processes.
Michael Clegg then emphasized the focus on capacity building that this programme must have. As an important initiative that involves a large number of people in the hemisphere, this programme has received a good support and has a strong potential for fundraising. This is a characteristic that should be widely explored.
Howard Alper recognized the success of the programme, but stressed that there is a need to more clearly identify which actors would effectively engage this initiative. The report is impressive, but a more quantitative appraisal should be done. This approach is important to allow the SC a more accurate view of the programme. A status report should be prepared, with information on which countries are involved and to what extent they really are participating. This will allow IANAS to perceive more clearly how to support and help in the further development of the actions.
Hernan Chaimovich agreed with H. Alper, stating that he knows that in Brazil there are more than one hundred thousand primary students involved in science education initiatives, developed with the support of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. But he ignores these numbers for the other countries. This is important information that should be made more evident and that could help in the fundraising efforts to the programme.
Harold Ramkissoon presented a general overview of the development of the programme in the Caribbean. In each of the countries in the region, the Caribbean Scientific Union is stimulating the establishment of national committees, engaging scientists and representatives from the government ant teachers. Each of these national committees indicates a focal point that will serve as liaison and will participate in a regional steering committee. In addition to a focal point meeting that will take place on May 14 th , a few meetings have already been held and teleconferences involving different islands have proven to be quite productive, with high-level discussions. Reemphasizing what he had said in his initial words at the beginning of the meeting, although much has been done, there is still much to do. H. Ramkissoon then called for the continuing support from the other academies to the region, thanking all for what has already been done.
Maciej Nalecz brought UNESCO's perspective congratulating IANAS for its actions since the inaugural meeting held in Santiago. To strengthen collaboration between the network and his organization, he foresees two possible lines of action. Since UNESCO has representations in most countries, he could organize a meeting with national representatives of UNESCO in the Americas to call their attention to the existence and actions of IANAS. This would help widen IANAS' exposure. In a parallel manner, this year there will be a General Conference of UNESCO where he was invited to organize a roundtable on basic sciences. IANAS could help in trying to stimulate Ministers of S&T of the region to attend this meeting. Usually these are more sensitive to science education and a joint action of UNESCO's Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences and IANAS could probably contribute to enhance the awareness of this issue at the meeting. Nalecz also informed that the US State Department is interested in science education in Latin America and the Caribbean region. UNESCO and IANAS could approach them to discuss possible cooperation. He made himself available to help on these two possibilities.
• Water Programme
The presentation on the water programme was delivered by Marcos Cortesão. He focussed on the discussion held in Bogotá past March, where the IANAS water programme held the first meeting of its national focal points. Presently twelve member academies are involved on this initiative, having indicated water researchers/specialists to represent them at the programme. To the meeting - kindly hosted by the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences - the following academies sent representatives: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and USA. The other three that did not make it to Colombia were Argentina; the Caribbean Academy of Sciences; and Guatemala. Notwithstanding, these three academies sent messages indicating their interest to actively participate in the programme.
M. Cortesão stressed that if in the past the SC had its reasons to be concerned with the evolution of the water programme, this situation has drastically changed in the last months. He emphasized that from his point of view much of the problems originated from the fact that J. Tundisi was not able to attend the Santiago meeting, due to health problems, and his absence created a communication gap between the co-chairs. But since the last meeting of the Steering Committee, both co-chairs have been contacting each other frequently.
Since the programme involves specialists with different backgrounds - in spite of the fact of being all related to water research and management ? during the initial discussions, various specialists in water research and management held very different interpretations of the proposed concepts. The presence of a hydrogeologist in the Brazilian national committee was of great aid in helping to unify the concepts into one main idea.
An extremely positive aspect of the Bogotá meeting was the fact that it managed to bring together scientists, representatives from some of the most important hemispheric water programmes and networks, high level government officials, entrepreneurs from the private sector and representatives from multilateral organizations. During the first part of the meeting, successful regional experiences in water research and management were presented and discussed. This allowed the participants an overview of what is already being done. This proved to be important when defining the actions of the IANAS programme, in order to avoid duplication of efforts. As an unfolding to this discussion, the representatives from the science academies then presented their views on the initiative. Each national focal point gave a general overview on water issues on their countries, identifying how their science academy could engage in the programme.
The programme will operate under a systemic view, which integrates surface and ground waters in a watershed approach. Water quality and water quantity will have equal attention in the design of the programme. This approach is considered fundamental to improve the management of both surface and ground waters. It is vital to emphasize that capacity building must encompass the training of managers and decision makers with an integrated, predictive and watershed approach. Training shall be based on research and on the study of global, regional and local water problems. This approach is innovative, representing an important contribution that IANAS will bring to water research and management.
The IANAS water programme will initially have three major foci: eutrophication and contamination; groundwater; and urban water cycle. These do not exclude other topics or initiatives and will have as a unifying backbone the capacity building component. As for the focus on eutrophication, a first workshop will be held in Brazil on June 25-30, with the participation of several IANAS representatives. This workshop is being organized by EUTROSUL, which is a network of South American laboratories working on eutrophication, coordinated by J. Tundisi and funded by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq). A very positive aspect that is already an outcome of the Bogotá meeting is that, due to the interest demonstrated at the meeting, Brazil is now discussing the possibility of allowing countries from Central America and the Caribbean to participate in the network. In this regard discussions are currently being held with CNPq.
Capacity building will be developed via the implementation of International Training Centers (ITC) that will act as nuclei for training, development of new technologies and field facilities for case studies, offering
short courses, seminars and field visits, and stimulating publications and activities for the enhancement of public awareness. ITC will address managers and scientists in specialized training modules, working in cooperation with local and regional universities. Via cooperation with other international centers worldwide these centers will secure a network of high quality institutions, stimulating capacity building and advanced scientific research.
In conclusion, M. Cortesão stated that the programme plans to edit two books: Water in the Americas andWater Economics for the Americas . As for the participation of non-IANAS countries, it was understood that the programme should be open to the participation of researchers from countries with no academy or with academies not affiliated to the network. This could act as an instrument for capacity building. Finally, as a strategy to strengthen the network and assure continuity in representation, the programme also recommends the member academies to establish national water committees that will support the focal points in the implementation of the programme.
Hernan Chaimovich thanked M. Cortesão for the presentation, avowing that indeed the water programme has evolved very quickly since the Ottawa meeting. In fact the two co-chairs are now working very closely and all the comments that he heard on the meeting of the focal points held in Colombia were very positive. Differently from the science education programme that has been established by IAP in 2001, the water programme is a new initiative and it will require time to mature. Although there is still not much to be appraised, one can say that the programme had a good launch. If the programme succeeds in fostering the surface?ground waters crossover, this will indeed be a very constructive action, representing a world-class contribution to science since these two communities really do not talk much to each other. This integrated approach proposed to the water issue is in fact very important and can represent an innovative contribution of IANAS to international scientific debate. In closing, H. Chaimovich stated that a first positive result of the programme is the fact that CNPq is now discussing the opening of EUTROSUL to Central America and the Caribbean and this is a direct result of what happened in Bogotá.
In sequence, Harold Ramkissoon recognized the important steps given towards the implementation of the programme, emphasizing the relevance of having IANAS develop efforts to involve the smaller countries in the hemisphere on its initiatives. He agreed with the view of the programme on incorporating scientists from non-member countries as observing members as an important strategy for capacity building.
H. Alper then commented that he had also received very good impressions on the Bogotá meeting. Keith Hipel, who had represented Canada at the meeting, was very impressed with the level of the presentations. Upon his return to Canada he presented to the Royal Society a report were he demonstrated great enthusiasm with the programme and his interest in getting engaged, contributing with the building-up of the initiative. H. Alper stated that he had the opportunity to show the report to the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and IDRC expressed its great interest in the programme, reacting very positively to the meeting's report. Water is a key issue in Canada and IDRC has this as a key component of its agenda. There is a good avenue to be explored on what is related to having IDRC contribute with the funding of this programme. H. Alper also commented that getting the surface and ground waters communities to work together was very positive. He had not initially perceived the importance of this, but now it is clear to him that, in fact, this represents a very important contribution that IANAS might bring. This lack of dialogue between these two communities is also present in Canada and indeed this is a problem that has to be overcome.
On behalf of the Chilean Academy, J. Asenjo also expressed his satisfaction in seeing that the water programme was now on the move. He confessed that from what he had heard in the Ottawa meeting he was quite concerned with the possibility of success of this initiative, but now he is happy to see that the programme held a very good meeting and had a good start. He also received a very positive feedback from Yarko Niño, who was the Chilean representative at the water meeting in Bogotá.
The last comment on the water programme was made by M. Nalecz. He said that he had met with L. Marín in Paris right after the Bogotá meeting and Marín gave him a very optimistic view on the results of the meeting. Nalecz then said that UNESCO was interested in the IANAS water programme. He informed the existence of the International Institute for Infrastructural, Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (UNESCO-IHE), situated in Delft, Netherlands. Nalecz foresees the possibility of having IANAS establish a partnership with IHE. The proposed ITC could be associated to IHE, what would enhance their visibility and perhaps strengthen them. This is something that has to be discussed with IHE, but M. Nalecz makes himself available to help on this discussion if IANAS considers this suggestion appropriate.
• Future Initiatives for Consideration
• S&T Policies
Hernan Chaimovich brought to discussion the first proposal for a new IANAS initiative. As a justification for his proposal, he recalled that much is said - and this is a common knowledge in the academia - about science and technology being a basis for development. But in spite of this ?certainty?, many times decision makers do not give the due attention to this aspect when administrating national budgets. Evidently this reflects a situation where financial resources are scarce and several are the crushing demands that legitimately have to be satisfied. If decision makers - and society as a whole - do not internalize this notion, clearly understanding how can S&T effectively contribute to societal development, we will continuously face ourselves with the situation, that is common to developing countries, where investments in S&T are constantly retrenched.
On this sense, quantitative data would be crucial to demonstrate that society gains when it invests in S&T. The problem is that it is not clear how to relate quantitatively S&T to development. Undoubtedly there are many well-known success stories in this area, and there is much information on these, but we do not have a methodology to analyze how and to what extent have these experiences effectively contributed to development.
H. Chaimovich informed that he had approached a Brazilian think tank - CGEE (Center for Management and Strategic Studies) ? to ask if they would be willing to support a study on a few successful cases in Brazil that could serve as a path for the development of an analysis methodology. They have replied saying that they would be interested and in a few days, so as soon as he got back to Brazil, he will have a meeting with them to discuss this issue. Since this will be a big and expensive study, which can have an important impact in the Americas as a whole, his proposal was that IANAS institutionally sponsored this study. With this he meant that when approaching potential donors, the study will be presented as a IANAS initiative.
J. Asenjo commented Chamovich's proposal, highlighting that in fact a major problem is how to convince governments to spend more money on science and technology. From his point of view, this proposal can represent a good strategy for this. The results from this study can help, via the presentation of solid data, to sell the idea that investments in S&T are important for economic and social development.
H. Ramkisson argued that regardless of the attractiveness of the proposal, he is not sure of its efficiency on convincing governments to invest more in S&T. The issue is not that they do not know the problem; the problem is that they do not consider it a priority.
H. Chaimovich agreed that this study will not necessarily lead to new or more public investments, but it can help sensitize private entrepreneurs. We must provide concrete information on how investments in research and development will bring responses not only to industry, but to society itself. Another difficulty is that the systems that fund and develop S&T are not related to each other. The tradition is to finance the researcher, while the focus should be on the programme. The methodology to be developed must look at the system and present inquiries that will lead to clarifications.
H. Alper stated that the study of cases is important, although they will not necessarily lead to more investments. There is a need to reevaluate the university structures and its reward systems. But this must be done integrating other sectors, as the university sector alone will not do much. Success depends in a good interaction between inventors, industry, marketing, etc. Analyzing and understanding this relationship might bring a relevant contribution that might help educating people on the need and the importance of investing in S,T&I.
M. Clegg then mentioned that this proposal might help the Academies to get the message across to decision makers. He recalled an experience developed by the University of California, San Diego, where they were quite effective in bridging knowledge to investors.
M. Nalecz affirmed that good examples are part of the story and it is important to know these. Similarly, parallel developments are needed, such as providing conditions for good ideas to flourish through the university system, then disseminating them to entrepreneurs that are willing to take the risk and invest on these ideas. In his opinion, this is especially important to small and medium size entrepreneurs, since big industries usually have their own laboratories and will not be interested in investing in R&D at the universities.
In closing, H. Ramkissoon stressed that, in fact, the proposal can help build confidence within entrepreneurs and this itself is a good reason to support the initiative.
• CAPACITY BUILDING FOR ACADEMIES
Howard Alper presented the second proposal for a new IANAS initiative. Understanding that the network is dedicated to, among other issues, enhancing capacity of regional academies, H. Alper proposed that IANAS launches a programme that will contribute meaningfully to create new academies and to accelerate the pace at which existing academies implement best practices, thus enabling them to advise their nations on existing and new policies. The objective of this proposal is to empower academies, and help them strengthen decision-making based on (a) quality science and independent objective advice; and (b) organizational structures which are positioned so as to maximize new opportunities to benefit society.
He then brought to the discussion the following components of an action plan: (1) the organization of a workshop on ?Best Practices in the Development of Academies?, which will bring together not only representatives of academies but also stakeholders from other sectors (industry, governments, decision makers, NGOs, etc.). An anticipated outcome of this workshop would be the creation of a template of general principles; potential actions to be taken, adjusted to the mores and needs of the country; networking amongst academies to access complimentary human resources; etc.); (2) the establishment of a steering committee, with participants from different sectors (i.e. not only the academies) and different regions to oversee the implementation of the plans for capacity building; and (3) the building-up of academy-government partnerships to educate and inform decision makers on the latest advances in research and innovation and the actual or potential impact of these for the citizens of the hemisphere. One vehicle to do so is by presentations, to politicians and senior bureaucrats, by researchers at a level the audience can readily understand. This too has the benefit of showcasing the best researchers, as well as celebrating their achievements.
After H. Alper's presentation of the proposal, Harold Ramkissoon pondered that a more adequate proposal for capacity building could be the proposal of twining a small academy with a structured one. The twin academies would work together with the stronger one supporting and training the other. This could prove to be more effective than running workshops.
H. Alper agreed that the idea of twining academies could be an interesting one, but he expressed apprehension with the possibility of a dominant relationship. He then reinforced the importance of strengthening the academies as independent and merit-based institutions, which are preliminary conditions for making them credible and respected by the governments.
J. Asenjo then expressed his concern about the need to respect the countries in their decision whether to establish or not local academies. One main determinant is whether the local scientific communities are motivated to have an academy before bringing new actors to the scenario.
H. Chaimovich highlighted that J. Asenjo?s concern was correct, but this was something that was already clearly stated on IANAS statutes, where it is said that one of the main goals of the network is to aid in the creation of new Academies in those countries of the Americas desiring assistance in the establishment of a science academy. He stressed that this programme is part of the raison d'être of IANAS itself, being one of the most important IAP programmes. H. Chaimovich also mentioned that academies should be representative of the scientific community of their own countries in order to be legitimate, which is something that not always occur. In his view, a workshop on best practices represents a step forward towards the organization of science in the hemisphere. He also suggested that instead of detailing the operational aspects of this initiative, the meeting should focus its discussion on the establishment of a steering committee for this programme, to which the responsibility of detailing the actions should be granted.
Following H. Chaimovich's suggestion, J. Asenjo proposed that the Brazilian Academy of Sciences chaired this programme, what was immediately seconded by H. Ramkissoon and supported by M. Clegg and H. Alper.
H. Chaimovich then expressed his concern over Brazil chairing too many programmes. Besides co-chairing IANAS itself, Brazil already co-chairs the water programme and, from what has been approved earlier, will also chair the study on S&T policies for development. IANAS is a hemispheric network involving 17 academies and it would be more appropriate if another academy assumed the leadership of this Capacity Building Programme. He mentioned that he had previously discussed this issue with J. Asenjo and M. Clegg to see if the Chilean Academy of Sciences or the US National Academy of Sciences would be willing to chair this programme.
J. Asenjo replied that the Brazilian Academy of Sciences has a good structure that provides it with the condition of coordinating the proposed programme in a successful manner. M. Clegg complemented Asenjo's words by expressing that in the view of the US-NAS, this programme should be led by a developing country and Brazil is the country with an Academy that has the conditions to head the initiative.
Hernan Chaimovich stressed that concentrating programmes in the network was not a Brazilian perspective and this should be clear to all, specially those member academies that are not present at this meeting. Although the group could acknowledge his viewpoint, the SC believed that having the Brazilian Academy of Sciences lead one more programme would not be too cumbersome, for Brazil is a strong academy from Latin America and can lead the capacity building programme.
In spite of this consensus and to avoid an excessive Brazilian concentration H. Chaimovich proposed that this programme should adopt a co-chairmanship model, similar to that of the water programme. Once all agreed on this, H. Chaimovich proposed that the US-NAS should hold the other chair. M. Clegg accepted the proposal and it was then formalized that the programme will be co-chaired by Brazil and the USA. As for the programme's steering committee, consultations will be held by e-mail to establish this.
• Academic Roundtable
This topic was presented by H. Chaimovich, who presented to the SC a background on the Academic Forum of the Summit of the Americas. During the process of organization of the XXXV General Assembly of OAS, that will be held in Fort Lauderdale in June 5-7 of 2005, Alice Abreu was planning a parallel session with IANAS when she discovered that a civil society organization, which had been established in the framework of the OAS to represent the academic community, was already organizing a similar session. She then suggested that this session should be co-organized by IANAS.
H. Chaimovich considered that the Academic Forum gathered many good names, but as a whole it did not represent the richness of S&T in the Americas. This opinion was also shared by Alice Abreu, which is why she had suggested IANAS get involved. The Office of Education, Science and Technology of the OAS will cover the expenses of IANAS representatives at this meeting. IANAS' SC then had to identify who would be available to participate in the meeting.
H. Alper echoed Chaimovich's words, saying that it was very important that Alice Abreu had identified this opportunity and invited IANAS to participate. He stated that he had contacted some people in Canada that are involved in the Academic Forum and these were very open to work with IANAS and receive its support. Most of the participants of the Academic Forum are policy people that do not dominate the issues related to S&T, and their feeling is that IANAS' presence will enhance discussions.
There was a general agreement that IANAS should attend this meeting and the co-chairs will be in consultation with the members of the SC to identify who will be representing IANAS in Fort Lauderdale. As for the OAS General Assembly, IANAS will be participating, regardless of the Academic Forum. There, the network will have a few minutes to deliver a short presentation and it was agreed that besides providing a very general overview on IANAS, the speech shall emphasize the network's views on the meeting's central topics.
Howard Alper made a few comments on IANAS communication policy and there was a general agreement that it has been working fine. We have had a problem with the website but this has been solved and both the website and the bulletins are proving to be very effective.
Hernan Chaimovich brought to discussion an issue that has been discussed in Brazil and is related to the effort demanded for the maintenance of a three language website. Although this has been working, IANAS' structure is not big enough to constantly update the site in English, Portuguese and Spanish. If the site is to continue operating in the three languages, what on his point of view is important, he believes the network will have to invest some funds to cover professional translations. All agreed that this was necessary and this proposal was approved unanimously.
Hernan Chaimovich reported that the network's financial situation has been sufficient to cover the existing demands, but as these are increasing and as IANAS continues to grow, it will have to find mechanisms to fund its increasing activities.
It was noted that IAP has been essential to the funding of the network and this was recognized by all. Similarly, both the Brazilian government and the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) have also been extremely supportive.
• Other Business
Harold Ramkissoon informed that the Caribbean Scientific Union will be holding a meeting on S&T for the Caribbean Region next year. He will provide more information on this in the near future, but it will be very positive if IANAS member academies could be present at this meeting.
The next meeting of the IANAS Steering Committee will take place in Brazil at the beginning of 2006. The Brazilian Academy of Sciences will soon be contacting the Steering Committee to settle a date.
The meeting was successfully concluded at 5:40 p.m.