The initial meeting of the IANAS Energy Project on Dec. 6-7, 2010, in Bogota, Colombia, developed plans to apply advanced science in multi-country efforts to strengthen the sustainability of the Americas. The workshop attracted broad participation by representatives from 16 countries of South, Central and North America and the Caribbean, who represented their science academies and organizations.
The inspiration for the project is Lighting the way; Toward a sustainable energy future, a report issued in 2007 by the InterAcademy Council, a scientific body which represents all the regions of the world. The co-chairs of the panel that produced the report are Dr. Steven Chu, then the Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, currently the U.S. Secretary of Energy; and Dr. José Goldemberg, Professor, University of Pão Paulo, and the father of Brazil’s world leading bioenergy program.
The Argentinean academy of science and ministry of science convened a IANAS workshop in 2008 to initiate the report’s recommendations in the Americas. Follow-on discussions identified six priorities for the Americas. They are:
The Bogota meeting was held to initiate activities in these areas. The workshop drew participation from the scientific communities of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, USA and Venezuela. Bolivia, Canada, Chile, and Haiti have expressed interest in participating, but did not send delegates to the workshop.
The approach was designed to build the IANAS activities from the ground up. On the first day, the country representatives provided a summary of their needs in the priority areas, their activities and recommendations. This provided a rich pool of information on which to build the IANAS program, including levels of detail and experience that often are neglected in top-down strategies. The country reports are included in Section 5 of this report.
On the morning of the second day, breakout sessions were held on the first four priorities. They were seen as more diverse and reflective of different needs, resources and priorities that called for more discussion and interaction than the other two priorities. The breakout groups presented their recommendations to the entire group in the afternoon, leading to a spirited and informative give and take and the shaping of collaborative action plans. The reports on these breakout meetings and the final session are contained in Section 3.
The guideline for the sessions was to think in terms of two timelines. The short-term focus was on the “low-hanging fruit”—the immediate measures that realistically can be taken quickly to demonstrate success and to build support for larger, longer-term programs. Here you’ll see references to responsible parties, schedules and funding sources. We also considered mid- and long-term projects designed to produce transformational changes.
The participants in the workshop accomplished a phenomenal amount in two days, but additional efforts will be needed to refine and initiate these plans. This is the focus as we enter 2011.
Good progress has been made in recruiting leaders in some of the priority areas. Gaston Mejia, Bolivia, will lead the team focused on meeting the basic energy needs of the poorest people. Humberto Rodriguez, Colombia, will lead the renewable energy team. Carlos Henrigue de Brito Cruz and Luis Cortez, Brazil, will lead the bioenergy team. The USA currently has the lead in energy efficiency and is looking for a Latin American co-lead. The responsibilities in the capacity building and information and education areas are discussed in their subsection reports.
The make-up of the topical teams is currently underway. Some academies have named the areas in which they will participate and their representatives in those areas. Some additional information was provided at the Bogota workshop. However, a number of academies are in the process of deciding their participation areas and naming their representatives.
Now that the priorities and recommendations have been shared from the “bottom up,” the important next phase is to increase our familiarity with existing and new programs in these areas. This will ensure that we don’t duplicate others’ efforts and also help identify opportunities to collaborate with related programs, particularly those just getting underway. Promising examples are the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) and the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), which were launched in 2010. We also want to collaborate with existing programs at the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank Group, Organization of American States, and other government, private sector, and foundation sources. It will be important to reach out to sources of support from all the countries of the Americas to help preserve the inclusive character reflected in the Bogota workshop. Pulling this information together has been started by identifying linkages in the ECPA and CEM initiatives in Section IV. The expansion of this section to include information from other international and national sources is a high priority.
A personal observations: The workshop was exemplary for the breadth and quality of the information in the country reports; for the vigorous and respectful interaction on critical issues by the participants; for connecting information on highly technical energy subjects to larger social, environmental and economic issues; and for envisioning a role of science that is unbounded by political boundaries. I believe we’re starting something important.
In closing, I want to express the appreciation of all the participants to the InterAcademy Panel for the financial support provided IANAS to start this project in 2010 and to expand it in 2011. We also want to thank Dr. Jaime Rodriguez-Lara, President of ACCEFYN, and his Colombia team for the outstanding support they provided the workshop meeting.
Chair, IANAS Energy Project