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       Guatemala establishes the National Copernicus Academy Committee to promote Earth observation

The Delegation of the European Union in Guatemala, the National Research and Education Network of Guatemala, the National Secretariat of Science and Technology (Senacyt), the University of the Valley of Guatemala, and the Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (RedCLARA) spearheaded the establishment of the National Copernicus Academy Committee of Guatemala today. This event took place within the framework of the BELLA II project, in close collaboration with the EU Space Support Office and EUreCA.

Representatives from various institutions, such as Senacyt, the University of the Valley of Guatemala, the EU Delegation, RedCLARA, the EU Space Support Office, universities, the government, and Earth observation experts, comprise the Committee. This composition ensures broad representation of key sectors for the development and implementation of the Academy in Guatemala, enhancing the use of Earth observation data from the Copernicus program to address the country's development challenges.

The Committee's tasks include developing a strategic plan for the Academy, promoting and adopting Copernicus data in various sectors, and designing training and capacity-building programs. Additionally, the Committee will be responsible for coordinating efforts between national and international institutions to ensure the successful deployment of the Copernicus Academy in Guatemala.

The committee was established at the Guatemalan National Palace. The event was presided over by the Vice President of the Republic, Karin Herrera; the National Secretary of Science and Technology of Senacyt, Gabriela Montenegro; the Director of International Cooperation, International Relations, Academic Relations, and Communications of RedCLARA, Mark Urban; the Director of the National Network, Luis Furlán; and the Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in Guatemala, María González Mata.

Access to Earth observation data is essential for addressing development challenges, planning and implementing innovative projects, making informed decisions, improving the countries' abilities to obtain crucial information on relevant issues such as environmental management, climate change mitigation, drought response, and resolving other critical problems.

The establishment of the National Committee represents the third step in the strategy for deploying the Copernicus Academy in Guatemala, aimed at enhancing capacity development and knowledge management in Earth observation thematic areas, adopting Copernicus data in new sectors, and bridging the gap between skills and data use in the country.

Copernicus is the European Union's Earth Observation Program, monitoring our planet and its environment for the benefit of all citizens. It offers information services based on satellite Earth observation data and in-situ data.

About RedCLARA

RedCLARA is a space in Latin America and the Caribbean for collaboration and development in education, science, and innovation. RedCLARA is the only enabling infrastructure for Latin America and the Caribbean's digital ecosystem development; it articulates relationships and initiatives and links institutions, projects, and people, driving the region's development. Since 2003, RedCLARA has provided regional interconnection and connection to the world through its links to GÉANT (the pan-European advanced network) and Internet2 (the United States) and, through them, to the advanced networks of Africa, Asia, and Oceania, interconnecting the largest academic and scientific community in Latin America and, soon, the Caribbean, through the national networks that comprise it.

About Bella II

The project aims to establish a connection between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. The project began in March 2023, as part of the BELLA Programme. BELLA II is co-financed by DG-INTPA of the European Union, with a contribution of 13 million euros (€13,000,000) for the 48 months in which the project will be executed (expected to be completed by February 2027); RedCLARA, the executing and coordinating institution, will seek to complement this amount - through alliances with governments, private companies, banks, and others - with at least €15MM to carry out the project's plans and objectives: to strengthen and expand the digital ecosystem of Latin America and the Caribbean, enabling relationships and exchanges between companies, research centers, educational institutions, and national research and education networks, aligning with the strategic objectives in education, science, technology, and innovation of LAC and Europe.

BELLA II will seek to form national co-investment consortia that complement the EU's funding to achieve connectivity and development goals for the digital ecosystem countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. BELLA II is one of the four pillars of the Europe-Latin America and the Caribbean Digital Alliance, and it is part of the EU's Investment Agenda, known as the Global Gateway.

About Copernicus Academy LAC

It is a network that enhances capacity development and knowledge management in Earth observation thematic areas and enables collaboration between different actors in the digital ecosystem (universities, research centers, private organizations, and governments) of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe to develop capabilities and research that allows training researchers, scientists, professionals, and entrepreneurs with the skills to harness the full potential of Copernicus data and information services.

The Copernicus Academy is making steady progress in Central America

RedCLARA leads the Copernicus Academy deployment in Latin America and the Caribbean within the BELLA II project. This strategic initiative aims to enhance capacity development and knowledge management to fully leverage data and information services from the European Union's Earth observation program, Copernicus. The implementation of the Copernicus Academy in the region follows four phases: the first involves conducting a webinar for introduction and the subsequent distribution of a survey to identify the country's main challenges and areas of interest. The second phase entails the creation of a workshop aimed at technically demonstrating the use and scope of the Copernicus Program. The third phase entails the establishment of a national committee, and the fourth phase involves the development of a pilot project to execute specific initiatives in the country.

Countries such as Uruguay, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador are progressing through these stages in Latin America, while Chile and Panama play crucial roles as regional offices for the Copernicus program, providing technical support and facilitating direct interaction with data and knowledge.

In Central America, Costa Rica and Guatemala have pioneered implementing the Copernicus Academy. After over 40 representatives from government entities, academia, and the private sector attended a workshop in April, Costa Rica established a National Committee, initiating the third implementation phase. Costa Rica's National Research and Education Network (RNIE), RedCONARE, the University of Costa Rica (UCR), and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) supported this event.

"Copernicus is a central element in BELLA II's strategy to develop a digital ecosystem in the region, and Costa Rica is progressing towards becoming a major success story, using this tool," said Laura Castellana, Coordinator of Academic Projects at RedCLARA.

The introductory webinar took place in Guatemala in June, and preparations are underway for an in-person workshop in July that will coincide with a presentation at the Book Fair.

Laura Castellana, Coordinator of Academic Projects at RedCLARA, added that deploying the Copernicus Academy in Central America represents a unique opportunity to train current and future generations in the effective use and processing of satellite data and images, thereby contributing to improving the planet and the quality of life of its inhabitants.

In 2022, RedCLARA, along with organizations and programs such as Copernicus, GEO, and AmeriGEO, launched the Earth Observation Strategy, which includes the deployment of the Copernicus Academy. Since then, RedCLARA has implemented various initiatives, such as the "Copernicus Innovation Challenge Ideathon" and the "Copernicus Innovation Development Hackathon" in 2023, enhancing cooperation and utilizing satellite data to tackle regional issues like climate change, natural disasters, and water management.

Mexico makes progress through the implementation of the Copernicus Academy

In the framework of the Digital Alliance between Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, RedCLARA and the national research and education networks (NRENs) are promoting the adoption, training, deployment, and promotion of the Earth observation strategy in the region.

On February 21, Mexico officially joined the countries that have implemented the Copernicus Academy, marking this milestone with an initial webinar that commenced the Academy's deployment in the country.

On June 27 and 28, the deployment progressed with the second and third steps of the strategy designed by RedCLARA. The University of Guadalajara hosted an in-person workshop named "Application and Processing of Copernicus Data" and the first strategic meeting for the formation of Mexico's National Committee.

Laura Castellana, Academic Projects Coordinator at RedCLARA, explained that the implementation of the Copernicus Academy in Mexico continues to advance strongly with the following key stages, beginning with this in-person workshop and subsequently the formation of the National Committee in collaboration with Mexican universities and government.

The University Corporation for Internet Development (CUDI), acting as the National Network, leads the entire deployment, while RedCLARA supports and coordinates actions with the National Network, according to Castellana.

Outreach in the Dominican Republic

The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (Mescyt) held a meeting in the Dominican Republic to present the Copernicus program and explain RedCLARA's deployment strategy for the Copernicus Academy in member countries.

Castellana highlighted, "This project adds value to connectivity and is of great interest to the countries." During the visit, the program's outreach made significant progress, leading to a deeper understanding and firm commitment from Dominican authorities and universities. The meeting also featured a discussion with rectors from the Central American Higher University Council (CSUCA) about RedCLARA, the BELLA II project, and the Copernicus Academy.

The Copernicus Academy aims to strengthen capacities and knowledge management to leverage the data and information services of the European Union's (EU) Earth observation program, Copernicus. Currently, countries like Uruguay, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador are progressing through these stages with excellent results.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

BELLA II receives funding from the European Union through the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), under agreement number 438-964 with DG-INTPA, signed in December 2022. The implementation period of BELLA II is 48 months.

Contact

For more information about BELLA II please contact:

redclara_comunica@redclara.net

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