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Coimbra Group attends EU-LAC Knowledge Forum in Montevideo

25 April 2023

On 24 and 25April, Latin America WG Vice-Chair Soledad Garcia Ferrari represented Coimbra Group at the EU-LAC Knowledge Forum held in in Montevideo, Uruguay. A joint initiative of the EU-LAC Foundation, the Uruguayan International Cooperation Agency (AUCI) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the event was attended by a wide range of relevant organisations leading collaboration between Latin America and Europe from diverse geographical and institutional scales.

These included the UNESCO, the Association of Universities Grupo Montevideo (AUGM), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Central American Higher Education Council (CSUCA), the DAAD, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), the Permanent Academic Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean and the EU (FAP-ALCUE), OBREAL Global, the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (RedCLARA) and the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and Universities Caribbean (UC) among others.

The Forum was organised in the context of the CELAC-EU Summit of Heads of State and Government, scheduled for 17-18 July 2023 in Brussels, which will focus on the challenges and opportunities for bi-regional cooperation on research, technology, innovation and education.  Therefore, the Forum was organised to facilitate exchange between organisations in the two regions, bringing together institutional representatives, students and leaders of ongoing research and education programmes. The aim was to discuss and agree on the key principles and tangible actions to be considered at the upcoming Summit, across: Cooperation in science, technology, and innovation; Towards a Common Area of Higher Education, Closing Gaps in Access, Equity, Quality and Skills. Face-to-face and virtual discussion groups were organised across all three themes, which generated deliberation and exchange of ideas.

Setting the scene for the Forum, Paolo Berizzi, European Union Ambassador to Uruguay; encouraged the participants to be ambitious. He expressed the need to develop clear, tangible and applicable proposals. In addition, the event was set out as an opportunity to explore existing policies that can be strengthened to enhance collaboration opportunities between the two regions. The results from the workshop discussions are being collected in a document which will then be shared with the Heads of States in July.

Key outcomes relate with the importance of political leadership to enable and support collaboration, the understanding of the heterogeneity existing across the two regions and the potential opportunities that this may bring to tackle current and future challenges, and the global significance and potential impact of a bi-regional common area for Higher Education. These strategic developments would benefit from a renewed set of shared values and the understanding of mutual and regional benefits in the context of forthcoming regional and global challenges.  Other issues addressed at the EU-LAC Knowledge Forum include the key role of young people, challenges around financing, the growing needs of digital skills and open science.

The event was also an opportunity for Coimbra Group to firm up next steps collaboration with AUGM, building on the outcomes of the joint AUGM-Coimbra Group High-level Workshop “Strengthening academic collaboration between Latin America and Europe” last December in Montevideo.

Recordings of the EU-LAC Knowledge Forum keynote speeches and conclusions are available on the EU-LAC Foundation YouTube channel.

Photo: EU-LAC Foundation