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Guatemala: BELLA II off to a strong start

Guatemala: BELLA II off to a strong start

The celebration of Europe Day in Guatemala was the setting for the presentation of the opportunities that the BELLA II project will bring to the country in terms of connectivity and cooperation in science and technology, as well as the synergies it will bring with the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, including the Copernicus Academy.

BELLA II, implemented by RedCLARA and co-funded by the European Union (EU), and Copernicus are pillars of the Digital Alliance between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), signed a year ago, and are one of the main commitments of the Global Gateway strategy, through which the EU aims to contribute to responding to the most pressing global challenges, such as the fight against climate change.

The event, which took place in Guatemala City on 6 May, brought together one hundred representatives from government agencies, international cooperation, European companies, partners, and key EU projects in the country. RedCLARA was represented by Mark Urban, RedCLARA's director of International Cooperation, Academic Relations, and Communication; Laura Castellana, Academic Projects Coordinator; Ixchel Pérez, Editor and International Relations Consultant for Central America; and Cecilia Ortiz, Manager of Liaison with National Research and Education Networks (RNIE).

RedCLARA, as leader of BELLA II, presented an information stand on the project, highlighting that it is a regional initiative that aims to reduce the digital divide and support the development of the necessary infrastructure to consolidate and expand a digital ecosystem of science, technology, education, and innovation in the region. He also stressed that the project aims to promote the development of innovative projects that respond to regional challenges, with the participation of different sectors.

In the first phase, the BELLA program directly connected Latin America to Europe via an undersea cable and terrestrial infrastructure located in South America. This unprecedented connectivity boosted collaboration, data transfer, science, and innovation between the research and education communities in both regions. The BELLA II project will extend connectivity and opportunities to as many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as possible, with Guatemala being one of the priority countries, along with Peru, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras.

"The BELLA II project, by strengthening the connectivity between RedCLARA and the member countries, will improve access to Copernicus data, so that the governments of the connected countries, the private sector, academia, and the different actors of the digital ecosystem can use Earth observation information quickly and promptly to promote development projects," said Mark Urban, Director of International Cooperation, Academic Relations and Communications of RedCLARA and part of the organization's team present in Guatemala.

Copernicus Academy

One way to improve access and capacity to use Earth observation data is the "Copernicus Academy Latin America and the Caribbean", promoted by RedCLARA and the NRENs. 

In the framework of the visit of the representatives of the Latin American advanced network to Guatemala, and coordination with the EU delegation, a meeting was held with key stakeholders to present the Copernicus Academy deployment strategy.

"From RedCLARA, in the framework of BELLA II, we want to promote the Copernicus Academy in Guatemala, to improve capacity building and knowledge management in thematic areas of Earth observation, allowing the adoption of Copernicus data in new sectors, thus reducing the gap between skills and the use of data in the country", explained Laura Castellana.

The meeting took place on 7 May and was attended by more than 30 representatives from academia, government agencies and the private sector. As a result, a roadmap was drawn up for the implementation of the Copernicus Academy in Guatemala, starting in June, with the commitment of the different sectors.

RedCLARA representatives also held bilateral meetings with the EU Delegation and the National Secretariat for Science and Technology to articulate efforts to establish the Copernicus Academy, promote BELLA II, and strengthen the national research and education network.


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.


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