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Luis Eliécer Cadenas, RedCLARA CEO: “Our task in the upcoming years is to complete the digital ecosystem for open science”

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Check out the speech given by the Executive Director of RedCLARA, Luis Eliécer Cadenas, during the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) session on “Arab Science Cooperation to achieve UN SDGs”, that took place (virtually) on Wednesday 23 September 2021, at the second edition of the UNGA76 Science Summit around the 76th United Nations General Assembly (Science Summit at UNGA76), held in New York within the organization of Intelligence in Science (ISC).

“I want to thank the organizers of this event and of this session for their kind invitation. In particular, I want to thank the Arab countries research and education network and its director for considering me for this panel. I want to focus my participation on a reflection on the role of research and education networks in achieving the sustainable development goals.

To achieve the sustainable development goals, we need the effective participation of all the human, scientific and technical resources that we have at our disposal.

The NRENs do articulate and help the development of the digital infrastructure required by modern science. This infrastructure is composed of dedicated and secure connectivity networks with a great bandwidth, it is integrated with advanced computing and storage systems, and many other services that are essential for the proper development of scientific activity.

All the countries and regions that are leading the global scientific and technological development have these infrastructures in abundance. It is a precondition for being able to develop first-rate science. The existing infrastructures in the global south are very deficient. This places these countries at a systemic disadvantage that it is impossible to correct without the huge investments in digital technology that are needed. If we want to effectively support the achievement of the sustainable development goals, it is essential to consider these investments as a priority.

These investments are of such magnitude that they require the participation and contributions of multiple stakeholders. Telecommunications companies, multilateral banks, cooperation agencies, science financing agencies, and governments are key agents in the creation of these capacities. All these actors cannot only contribute, they can also be benefited. In a scientific system strengthened through infrastructure, a great impulse is given to innovation, and this is the basis and foundation for the development of new products and services. We must overcome the dichotomy between providers and consumers when it comes to addressing such critical and vital problems as climate change, poverty reduction, food production and many others.

International cooperation and its mechanisms of action are also key in this regard. In Africa and Latin America, we have managed to develop specialized infrastructures thanks to this international support. In the case of RedCLARA thanks mainly to the contributions made by the European Commission throughout the more than 17 years of existence of the organization. Thanks to these investments, we have managed to build a digital ecosystem to support science that integrates products and services through various organizations such as SCALAC, for the provision of computing capabilities, and LA Referencia, the region's open access repository network.

This digital ecosystem for open science is not yet complete. Our task in the upcoming years is to complete it, we must do this to ensure that investments in science yield the highest possible return. With Africa we have great similarities and the opportunity to extend this cooperation between regions that face, with their differences, very similar challenges. Our continents are connected, not only by these similarities, but throughout infrastructure. We have already been collaborating in common areas of action. Our region, through RedCLARA and the national networks, SCALAC, LA Referencia and other key organizations that are part of it, is willing to strengthen and reinforce these bonds of friendship and mutual support. I believe that we have a huge opportunity to promote development through knowledge, and I hope that we are all able to take advantage of this opportunity.”