[BUENOS AIRES] Argentina's minister of science and technology, Daniel Filmus, and his Brazilian counterpart, Eduardo Campos, signed an agreement this week to develop a joint programme on science and technology.
According to the document, the economic and social development of both countries depends on a boost in public investment in both basic and applied science.
Filmus and Campos stressed the importance of collaboration during the opening of the four-day Science, Technology and Society conference held this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The conference, attended by some 300 scientists from the two countries, was organised by the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science, the Argentinean Association for the Advancement of Science, and Argentina's Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (SECYT).
"Apart from football, everything connects Brazil and Argentina," said Filmus, referring to the historical sporting rivalry between the countries. He said the two countries could not develop without advances in science and technology.
Campos agreed, saying, "Brazil and Argentina are at a similar level of development and the integration will deliver the sum of both countries' potential."
One of the key issues stressed by the agreement is the urgent need to increase the number of qualified personnel in all fields of science and technology, forming an "indispensable base" for creating an efficient system of productive innovation. The agreement states that without this, the two countries are unlikely to achieve sustainable development.
To work together on building up human resources, the ministers agreed to broaden and improve the reciprocal programmes that allow researchers from both countries to work in each others’ national institutions.
Scientific relationships between Latin American countries are fragile, having traditionally been built with developed countries, says Carlos Abeledo, a professor of postgraduate science policy at the University of Buenos Aires.
According to Abeledo, the agreement is particularly important as it shows the two countries' political will to increase funding for collaboration, and lays the foundations for building a scientific community across the region.
"It is especially important for the future of the young scientists from both countries, who will be able to share experiences as they happen," says Abeledo. "This will sow the seeds for a more integrated scientific community."
The ministers also agreed on a proposal from Argentinean scientists to create a joint programme on ethics on science and technology, aimed at developing guidelines for ethical aspects of research.
"Ethics is not something that we add to science, but it is in fact part of science, so should be considered in this joint agreement," says Otilia Vainstok, coordinator of SECYT's ethics committee.
Vainstok notes that said a similar path was followed by the European Union. "Initially, national ethics committees were created, followed by European committees as result of a regional need," she says.
Ennio Candotti, president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science and a driving force behind the joint conference, said the programme is taking a strategic approach: "Brazil and Argentina occupy a huge natural laboratory from Patagonia to Ecuador that we should study together otherwise someone else will".