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Organizers highlight the relevance of the new BELLA II Ideathon for social and environmental change

Organizers highlight the relevance of the new BELLA II Ideathon for social and environmental change

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"Why do we develop an Ideathon? Because we love to identify opportunities and events like this are great and special to achieve it. There is a lot of knowledge scattered in the countries of our region and our task is to integrate it for the benefit of our society." The words of Emmanuel Picado, Director of Digital Agriculture of Information and Communication – IICA, at the opening session of the new BELLA II Ideathon, clearly represent the objectives and expectations of this initiative entitled "Innovation of Agrifood Systems in Central America and the Caribbean", which began on February 29th.

The opening ceremony was presided by authorities of the organizing entities: RedCLARA, the BELLA II project, the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), LACNet, GÉANT and the European Space Agency (ESA). It was also attended by experts from the 12 working groups that seek to respond to the challenge of using advanced technologies of digital transformation to transform agri-food systems and make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable in the region.

This is the second BELLA II Ideathon. The first one was held in 2023, to develop proposals for the use of data from the European Union's Earth Observation Programme, Copernicus, as part of solutions to the region's most important challenges. This time, the focus is on food security. "We are all witnessing the impact of climate change and how it is affecting us, particularly in terms of food security. These are not future problems; they are very present today and we need to address them now. We want and believe that in this Ideathon we will develop important solutions to these issues," emphasized Picado.

"Our way of life is hurting nature, and we have to use our ability to work together to find solutions," added GÉANT's Head of International Relations, Tom Fryer, who also believes that the Ideathon is an opportunity not only to benefit the region but also to promote collaboration among national research and education networks. "Historically our role has always been to support education research. But with events like this, we are reaching a new moment, reaching people who can contribute to develop the tools and solve the problems we have," he asserted.

The choice of the theme of the Ideathon - "Innovation of agrifood systems in Central America and the Caribbean" - is also in line with a historical moment of great confluence of efforts and projects to promote the development of the region, such as the EU-LAC Digital Alliance and the BELLA II Project, which seeks to consolidate the digital ecosystem by extending connectivity to countries that are not sufficiently connected. In the words of RedCLARA´s Executive Director, Luis Eliécer Cadenas, this connectivity cannot become an end in itself: "One of the main objectives of BELLA II is to develop the articulation between the different actors in the region to promote the solution of the problems of our society and the Ideathons are a way to enable this articulation".

The European Union's ambassador to El Salvador and to SICA, Francois Roudié, also highlighted the importance of the Ideathon in light of the so-called European Green Pact, a package of strategic initiatives launched in 2019 that aims to put the EU on the path to a green transition, to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. "When we talk about the Green Pact, we don´t see it as a challenge, but as an opportunity to redouble our efforts and build a new economic model that prioritizes sustainability and creates transformative change not only at the European level but also globally. Agri-food systems are the heart of this vision as they provide us with food security, economic stability, enhanced biodiversity, mitigation of the effects of climate change, and many other dimensions of sustainable development," said Roudié.

The EU official added that we need to innovate and create technological solutions that allow communities and producers in the region to find smart solutions to achieve a green, digital, and equitable transition. "The Ideathonn is the opportunity to share the ideas we have and turn them into concrete actions that will generate tangible changes in Central America and the Caribbean," he concluded. The BELLA II Ideathon "Innovation of agrifood systems in Central America and the Caribbean" will be held virtually from February 29 to March 11, with the participation of 12 working groups, composed of 125 experts from different sectors of the digital ecosystem, including universities, research centers, specialized international organizations, large research infrastructures, among others, from 28 different countries. The initiative will have synchronous and asynchronous sessions that will allow the development of an agenda with training and mentoring spaces for participants and spaces for the construction of the final ideas, as well as simultaneous activities at the opening and closing.

For more information, please visit https://www.bella-programme.eu/index.php/es/user-events/bella-ideathon-innovation-of-agrifood-systems-in-central-america

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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