RDA 16th Plenary - About Costa Rica and Organizers

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07 February 2020 708 reads

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country (51.000 km2) located in the middle of the Americas, in southern Central America. The country has high indices of human development thanks to a democratic and peaceful history, where universal access to education and health has been a priority. Peaceful resolution of conflicts is also a strong value within Costa Rica, evident in the abolishment of its army in 1949. The country is ranked as a high Development Index country and spends almost 20% of GDP on social programs. Its literacy rate is greater than 97% and the average life expectancy is 79.6 years.

One of the Blue Zones of the world is in Costa Rica, which has a lifestyle indicative of a longer life-expectancy for more people. An important feature of the country is its commitment to the environment. This small territory shelters 5% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world, with 26% of the country’s territory under some form of environmental protection. According to data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Carribean (ECLAC 2016), Costa Rica has 95.5% internet coverage, a higher percentage than other Latin American countries. It also stands out as a leader in renewable energy worldwide according to the World Wildlife Fund.

With easy access, getting to Costa Rica is easy because it is classified as one of the most visited international destinations. Its touristic infrastructure is abundant and accommodates various types of visitors and budgets.

Open Data and Research Data in Costa Rica

The Open Data movement is well developed in the country, with initiatives that are both private and public. There is strong leadership from the Executive Branch and a civil group shaped by Iniciativa Latinoamericana por los Datos Abiertos (ILDA). Several international activities related to Open Data and Open Government have taken place in Costa Rica such as AbreLatam and ConDatos.

Support and infrastructure for Research Data is not quite as developed, because public universities have concentrated their efforts on Open Access initiatives and not so much on Research Data Management. This is primarily due to slow adoption from researchers applying Open Science principles. In Costa Rica, it is not common for researchers to have their code and data open, as their main funding sources and publishers have not implemented Open Data/Science policies, nor enforcement strategies.

There is a group of researchers in the country that do publish and collaborate with Universities from around the world, and Open Science is an important part of their conversations. Nevertheless, the training resources and infrastructure available to practice Open Science in the country are still scarce, as the first initiatives have taken place only during the last year.

With the 16th RDA Plenary, the local organizing committee would like to bring the conversation about Research Data Management to Costa Rica and to the Central American Region. It aims to bring focus to Open Science practices, how the public universities can support for researchers who want to adapt their work to these practices, and collaboration opportunities with the Open Data initiatives that are already in place in the region.

About the Hosts

Costa Rica has five (5) public universities, all of them with important academic work in teaching, research, and community outreach programs. These five universities form a consortium named Consejo Nacional de Rectores (CONARE) that works as an articulator and reference for these higher education institutions and will be the point of reference to welcome this event.

Despite the size of our institutions – medium and small – we welcome about half of the higher education students in the country. In 2018, these universities executed 2,385 research projects, with 16 of them being inter-university projects funded by CONARE.

Two important services related to CONARE are Programa Estado de la Nación (state of the Nation Program) and Centro Nacional de Alta Tecnología (High Technology Center). The first one has conducted research on the sustainable human development efforts in Costa Rica and Central America in the last 25 years; the second one promotes the use of high technology spaces for research, innovation and entrepreneurship, thereby facilitating the welfare of the population and sustainable development.

The government through the Ministry of Science and Technology has been working and joining networks and initiatives to promote the topic of research data, but in this process, public universities in Costa Rica will be protagonists because they are responsible for almost 80% of the research in the country.

From CONARE’s point of view, Costa Rica’s Grand Challenges are as follows:

  • Disaster Resilience: Public universities have played a fundamental role in disaster prevention, mitigation and attention in Costa Rica. They have done research and knowledge transfer in different areas such as engineering, volcanology, geology, oceanography, geography and psychologists, among many specialties.
  • Infectious Diseases: Universities in Costa Rica have specialized in infectious tropical diseases. There two important research centers, CIET-UCR and PIET-UNA, have vast experience and scientific production.
  • Smart Cities: Costa Rica has many problems in land planning and urban smart infrastructure. The universities have experience in territorial planning, development of urban infrastructure, new technologies and tackling social problems, but still needs to develop integral visions towards smart city proposals.
  • Food and Agriculture: This was a key sector in the development of the country, but for several years it has lost space because the country has become a service economy. It is essential to make progress in these areas, specifically in food security and the development of an innovative and efficient agricultural production in the framework of sustainable development.