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November 26, 2020: eLAC2022 Digital Agenda was approved

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The document, which will be implemented over the next two years, contains 39 objectives classified in 8 areas of action and a section related to the pandemic and economic recovery, and was approved in the framework of the VII Ministerial Conference on the Information Society of Latin America and the Caribbean, organized online by ECLAC and the Government of Ecuador. Of maximum relevance for the Latin American National Research and Education Networks and for RedCLARA, is objective 5, where the importance of “the strengthening or creation of specialized digital and connectivity infrastructure to boost education, science and technology in the region” is highlighted.

The eLAC2022 Agenda is in digital matters a driving force behind regional cooperation efforts and a promoter of policy design, capacity building and political dialogue around the challenges and opportunities that digital transformation represents for society and the economy.

In its background issue number 1, the eLAC2022 Digital Agenda recognizes the central importance of networks and information and communication technologies for current and future development, and although it does not make an express reference to the networks that connect regionally and globally all these technologies, allowing their operation, the truth is that this central importance is reflected throughout the entire document.

Background issue 1: “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks the entry of a new era and a time of opportunity when the dissemination and adoption of new technologies and global interconnection, and in which information and communications technology (ICT), offer enormous potential for accelerating human progress, facilitating access to information and developing knowledge societies. The 2030 Agenda also acknowledges the critical nature of scientific and technological innovation in areas that are vital to development such as health and energy. Both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda and the Agenda itself expressly include ICT as an essential tool for improving the quality of education, promoting women’s empowerment, driving inclusive and sustainable industry and promoting innovation, as well as part of the means of implementation of the Agenda”.

In addition to a final section with seven objectives to face the pandemic and the severe economic crisis that it has imposed, the Agenda contains eight areas of action: digital infrastructure; digital transformation and digital economy; digital government; inclusion, digital skills and competences; emerging technologies for sustainable development; trust and digital security; regional digital market; and regional digital cooperation.

In the first line of action (digital infrastructure), objective 5 is crucial for the Latin American National Research and Education Networks interconnected through RedCLARA: “Promote the strengthening or creation of specialized digital and connectivity infrastructure to boost education, science and technology in the region as fundamental pillars of economic and social development and to accelerate processes of digital transformation”. This objective is and has been since their creation, the motor of these networks, and for RedCLARA, in addition, the impulse to daily fight for the establishment of national networks in Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and in The Caribbean Region.

In the closing ceremony of the Ministerial Conference, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Government of Ecuador, participated Mario Cimoli, Deputy Executive Secretary of ECLAC; Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for Latin America and The Caribbean of the Directorate General for Cooperation and Development of the European Commission (DEVCO-EuropeAid); Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Center; Andrés Michelena, Minister of Telecommunications and the Information Society of Ecuador, and Hebert Paguas, Executive Director of the Agency for Electronic Government and the Information and Knowledge Society (AGESIC) of Uruguay.

In his speech (on behalf of Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary) Mario Cimoli stated that “digital has to be the key to addressing the structural problems of Latin America and The Caribbean.”  The Director of DEVCO-EuropeAid for LAC, Jolita Butkeviciene, stated that she is “convinced that, in the search for more inclusive societies, Latin America and The Caribbean has its natural partner in Europe. Digitization and a digital alliance between both continents can become an effective weapon to force the fall of the high levels of inequality in our societies”. At this point, it should be noted that DG-DEVCO is one of the areas of the European Union that co-finance the BELLA Programme, which will lay in 2021 a submarine cable that will connect the academic networks of Europe and Latin America (GÉANT and RedCLARA) and will improve the capabilities of the South American backbone of RedCLARA, enhancing the capabilities of intra and intercontinental collaboration in science , education and ICT development, among others.