Member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) must commit to using science and technology (S&T) for their economic and social development, says Arnoldo Ventura, outgoing president of the OAS's Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology (COMCYT).
Ventura, who is stepping down from his position of committee president after four years, made his remarks at a meeting of COMCYT in Washington DC, United States, last month (20–21 September).
Ventura told SciDev.Net that many member countries, especially the poor ones, are not truly committed to the concept of using S&T as tools for development.
"They have the best of intentions, but they don't go further," he said.
And he believes COMCYT is not fulfilling its role in getting member states to use S&T to solve social problems.
COMCYT's official role is to contribute to and execute OAS policy on scientific, technological and innovative development in the region.
The committee's priorities, according to Ventura, should be addressing poverty, the spread of democracy across the continent, and preventing young people — particularly young men from poor communities — from dropping out of school.
But he said COMCYT focuses too much on writing documents and reports, rather than action.
Ventura proposed that COMCYT set up centres of excellence to address regional problems such as using biotechnology in small scale agricultural and food production, using nanotechnology to produce clean drinking water and developing new materials for better and more affordable housing.
He said S&T can help keep young men in school and, "stimulate the interest of the boys in what surrounds them", he said.
Ventura also proposed creating a communication network — using COMCYT as an information centre — designed for the poorer members to share and solve their poverty problems.