By: David Luna
Science diplomacy is not a new endeavor. In fact, for several years now the need for this collaboration is not only being discussed, but several countries have adopted it and have assigned diplomats to such a noble commission.
In Colombia this subject has not been explored yet. Nevertheless, it is important that we begin to familiarize ourselves with this term, because it can serve as a fundamental tool to open new possibilities for Colombian talent, building our human capital abroad, and opening more spaces for scholarships, research and new jobs for our professionals.
Science diplomacy refers to the activities that promote cooperation, bilateral and multilateral collaboration in research, technology, science and innovation, in order to facilitate solutions to problems of common interest such as natural disasters, pandemics or cybersecurity.
Many times science diplomacy is supported by the private sector, but it also has a direct relationship to academia. To be precise, the top 10 universities and businesses worldwide are actively pursuing this avenue. In fact, there are science consulates based in Silicon Valley.
This collaboration exists for one simple reason: doing science in a network is better than developing it individually: It is much more profitable to fund it using several sources, it further allows the mobilization of scientists and enables them access to experiences that can enrich science research. All this is possible thanks to the universal nature of science.
For the people in charge of this objective, it is necessary they interact with several agents: the government, academia and public and private institutions. That is why it is essential that their skills are multidisciplinary; since their goal is to recruit highly trained professionals and establish important alliances for the development of technology and science.
There are only a few countries in the world that are giving the necessary attention to science diplomacy in their foreign policy. In Latin America, the only country that has dabbled in this field is Mexico. However, creating a large network of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and diplomats across Latin American borders can be an alternative to find different results through collaboration,
essentially combining economic efforts, talent, recovering brain drain and taking advantage of similar geographic and environmental conditions.
Technology advances at a much faster pace than legislation. Every day new knowledge is generated with the potential to positively influence productivity and solve many of Colombia’s problems. Hence, international cooperation and diplomacy are good alternatives, for countries like ours, to access and support these technological advances. It is therefore imperative to propagate this idea and start talking about science diplomacy.
Now that I have your attention: Congratulations to Miguel Uribe Turbay for his work as Secretary of Government of Bogotá. I wish you many successes in your future projects.