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Coimbra Group attends international ministerial conference on the principles and values in international R&I cooperation

28 February 2024

The Coimbra Group was invited by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to attend, as an observer, the international ministerial conference on the multilateral dialogue on principles and values for international cooperation in research & innovation (R&I) held in Brussels on 16 February. The meeting mobilized considerable high-level political support reflected by the presence of European Commissioner for Research Iliana Ivanova, numerous Research and Science ministers from across the world, and major international organizations and NGOs such as the UNESCO, OECD or the International Science Council. The recording of the press conference of the ministerial meeting may be watched on Youtube.

The conference culminated with the endorsement of the ‘Brussels Statement’, which advocates for enabling and strengthening “diverse and equitable cooperation in a trusted, open, accessible, inclusive, participatory, non-discriminatory and safe manner”. The document is articulated into three parts:

  • a descriptive introduction recalling the origins of the multilateral dialogue, why we should pay attention to principles and values when entering into international cooperation in R&I.
  • a second part which is the core of the statement and conveys its main messages.
  • a descriptive annex referring to the usefulness of the Multilateral Dialogue as a shared process and the thematic workshops held so far, but not containing any commitment.

The Brussels Statement calls for the sustainability of the Multilateral Dialogue on principles and values for international cooperation in R&I “as a global platform for constructive and collaborative engagement in a changing world among the partners (…) including the participation of representatives of the research communities, public and the private sector”. The European Commission is now expected to launch the development of a roadmap for further engagement.

In her opening remarks, Iliana Ivanova reaffirmed the European Commission’s “unwavering commitment to a principle-driven approach to international cooperation in R&I” and called EU member states and partners to “move from words to action”. She also emphasized the need to raise awareness among researchers, stressing “how crucial and challenging the dissemination of these principles and values” can be.

The keynote address was given by OECD Deputy Secretary General Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen who announced an OECD Science and Technology Policy Ministerial Meeting to take place on 23-24 April 2024 in Paris, ten years after the previous one. The event aims to put forward a transformative science, technology, and innovation policy agenda focused on sustainability transitions, while embedding shared values in the governance of science and emerging technologies and reaffirming the need for international cooperation to address global challenges.

The Coimbra Group (CG) welcomes and strongly supports the Brussels Statement’s approach to fostering diverse and equitable international cooperation in R&I. CG has been contributing for many years to promote responsible, equitable and transformative cooperation between its 40 members and their counterparts in the rest of the world, especially in Africa and in Latin America. These are central values underpinning the work taking place through our “Global Partnerships” and “Latin America” Working Groups as well as through our 20+ year-old Scholarship Programme for Young Researchers. Recently, CG was among the first signatories of the Africa Charter on Transformative Research Collaborations.