Colombia launches int’l think tank aimed at spurring nation’s development


Colombia’s government has launched a think tank that is made up of 43 experts from different countries and areas of expertise and tasked with charting a course for the Andean nation’s development in a range of fields.

The experts taking part over the next 10 months in the so-called Mision Internacional de Sabios (International Mission of Experts) will make proposals in the areas of science, technology and innovation, setting out a road map that is to form part of Colombia’s next National Development Plan.

The group consists of 43 scientists: 30 Colombians, five from France, two Britons, a Chilean, a Spaniard, a German, a South Korean, an American and a researcher from the Netherlands.

Fifteen members of the group are women from Colombia and other countries who are leading thinkers in different scientific fields.

Those taking part in the initiative include Frenchman Serge Haroche , co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics in 2012; Jorge Reynolds Pombo, a Colombian electrical engineer and inventor of the first external artificial pacemaker; and South Korea’s Noh Kyoo-sung, the CEO of the Korea Productivity Center.

The group also includes Colombian-American neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinas, a member of the team that led NASA’s Neurolab mission (1998).

Also participating is Dr. Esteban Manrique Reol, a Spanish researcher and professor who is a leader in the field of global change ecology.

“This group of experts, of prodigious minds, who have gathered today and will provide us with their conclusions over the next several months, is a symbol of unity in a country that is thinking big,” Colombian President Ivan Duque said during Friday’s launch ceremony at the Bogota Botanical Garden.

Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez will oversee the project along with the Education Ministry and the Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation, a government agency known as Colciencias.

“Colombia can’t continue in the mediocre position of having investment in science and technology that barely exceeds 0.2 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). Our goal is to increase investment in science and technology to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2022,” Duque added.

The experts’ work will be divided into eight thematic areas, with three sessions devoted to each of them.

The proposals that emerge from this initiative will be consolidated into a single document with the goal of contributing to Colombia’s sustainable and inclusive development.

Duque said the idea is to swiftly implement the experts’ recommendations.