The meeting took place in Stockholm the past 2nd and 3rd of June in the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, ahead of the Preparatory Seminar of the III EU-CELAC Academic Summit to be held in Stockholm on the 6th and 7th of October 2016. The event consisted of a round table and different workshops aiming at sharing information on the current state of higher education and scientific cooperation as well as at defining future priorities among the Nordic countries in these areas, with a focus on deepening cooperation with Latin America & the Caribbean.
The event was inaugurated by Ambassador Teppo Tauriainen, Director of the Americas Department in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden and followed by welcoming words by Professor Mario Torres Jarrín, Director of the European Institute of International Studies, and Kajsa Ekroos, FinCEAL+ LAC Project Coordinator. Following the inauguration and welcome words the first panel "Experiences and Conclusions of the Nordic Latin America Contact Seminar” where previous experiences of cooperation between the Nordic-Latin American region were put forward as well as the prospects for future developments based in the potential synergies and common values shared among both regions as well as a clear commitment for peace and development through sustainable economic growth. The representatives of both EU and CELAC countries expressed an interest to further strengthen ties. In addition, some initial ideas about possible joint Nordic initiatives were discussed, such as organizing more joint contact seminars in the future. The first day ended with a Reception at the Official Residence of the Embassy of Peru.
During the second day the of the meeting the Panel II was opened, where an informative presentation was given by all attending delegations in the context of the "Current State of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean and the Nordic countries”. Different institutional bodies across the Nordics were identified, as well as their current level of engagement in the Latin American region were identified. After the delegations' presentations the section on "Ongoing frameworks for EU-CELAC STI Cooperation” took place. Ambassador Paola Amadei, Director General of the EU-LAC Foundation, highlighted the Foundation's mission to connect intergovernmental process with the business, academic, and social sector, as well as, in a broad and general manner, the civil society of both regions. Similarly, Professor Fernando Galván Reula, Rector of the University of Alcalá and President of the Permanent Academic Forum for the European Union - Latin America and the Caribbean (FAP EU-LAC), reminded of the need for a bi-regional forum in order to exchange experiences in higher education, research, technology and innovation in the context of programs such as Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Alfa, or the Framework Programs for Science and Technology which are clear examples of success strategies within Europe.
The Nordic delegations gave in-depth presentations about their experiences in the Latin American region. One common factor identified for Nordic-LAC cooperation was that there is most active collaboration with Brazil; however, different actors expressed the interest to further develop joint projects also with other countries within the LAC region. According to Dr. Maria Lima-Toivanen, VTT, Finland has substantially benefited from cooperation with LAC region through increased knowledge sharing and project funding through participation in projects such as ALCUE-Net, NMP-DeLA, LEADERSHIP and ELAN. According to Lima-Toivanen, project cooperation provides visibility both as a high-tech research organization and as a Finnish institution actively working with the LAC region, often leading to offers of further collaboration.
The EU-CELAC bi-regional integration process has identified the importance of increasing cooperation in higher education and scientific research. The objective of this first Nordic meeting was to map out potential synergies and take a step forward in further promoting cooperation between the Nordic and the Latin American regions along the lines established by the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation. There is great potential for cooperation with mutual benefits where the Nordic approach of the triple helix of innovation can simultaneously bring researchers from both regions together, give broad access to upper-middle income economies with a market of more than 1 billion people and in the case of the Pacific Alliance a single market of more than 200 million people.
Thanks to the active participation of representatives from different authorities, institutions of higher education and scientific cooperation the meeting proved to be successful space for mutual learning and mapping out new initiatives, which will be incorporated into the agenda of the aforementioned Preparatory Seminar of the III EU-LAC Academic Summit.
Picture credits: Amanda Nilsson Krantz, European Institute of International Studies / Kajsa Ekroos, UniPID