Future Challenges, Science, Technology and Innovation Committee in the Chilean Senate

Frane Zilic, Polomadera Programme Director and Professor of Architecture, Universidad de Concepción (Chile), describes the work they are doing with the Chilean Senate. 

On Wednesday 29th September 2021, Frane will join ASBP and the Timber Accelerator Hub for a lunchtime webinar on the latest research and developments for timber and bio-based materials regarding the UN Climate Change Conferences.

You can find out more about this event and register here.

In November 2011, a conference on social dissemination of science and technology, called “Future Congress”, was held in Santiago, Chile. This event was a cross-cutting initiative developed between privates, academia, civil society and the Chilean Senate. The conference aimed to become a platform for scientists, Nobel laureates, academics, and politicians, to reflect on main issues faced by humanity in the future. Additionally, it targeted to set the foundations to design and develop the necessary regulations that would allow the country, and humanity, to face new challenges.

A year later, this program drifted into a permanent senate committee called “Future Challenges, Science, Technology and Innovation” integrated by five senators, from different political spectrums, who engage and consult with experts, from different fields, in the process of legislating.  A full-time staff of academics support, influence and, sometimes, drive the legislative debate and the proposal of bills to the committee.

The committee has the faculty to convene temporal commissions of experts, spanning from academia, public society, government, and private sector, to progress specific bills. Recently those panels have become a main generator of policies, due to their ability to integrate technical subjects (provided by the academics) with public matters (nominated by the senators). The model transforms opportunities, identified through the reflection of the commissions, into law. The matter to be addressed is identified,  commissions are established, dialogue and reflections are documented, and recommendations are issued. This part of the process is usually led by an academic, with representation from members of government, civil society, academia, public sector, private industry, and field experts.

At the beginning of 2021, the Committee convened a commission to address the future of the forestry industry in Chile. This was triggered by the criticism of which the forestry sector was under during the COP 25 in 2019. On that occasion, some academics accused the sector of not generating a positive environmental, social, and economic impact due to its lack of future perspective and disassociation with sustainable development. They claimed that forest usage didn’t consider the vast range of goods and services and that the main economic activity (cellulose pulp exportation) depletes the country’s national resources without caring for the welfare of the citizens that live near to them which rely on its conservation. On the other hand, the dialogue highlighted the opportunity to address new goals to achieve sustainability and develop a zero-emission economy. The challenge to address the matter and capitalise on the opportunities was entrusted to a commission comprising architects, engineers, lawyers, and biologists, who in turn created five working groups, or sub-commissions, one focused on the supply of forest product and four focused on the demand to achieve sustainable development.

  1. The Future of the Environment.
  2. The Future of Timber Construction
  3. Future of the Native Product Development. (Nativo sustentable)
  4. Lignite, Fiber, and other products
  5. Mechanic and  Technology

From middle march to middle June 2021, these sub-commissions gathered more than 120 members from academia, civil society, industry and government agencies, and received evidence from national and international experts highlighting barriers and challenges in specific’s fields

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