SETAC Argentina Chapter Board Members
Through this statement, the SETAC Argentina Chapter expresses its deep concern regarding the state of underfunding suffered by the Science, Technology and Productive Innovation sector of Argentina as a result of the policies from the current national government. Recently, the Board of CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council) has decided to cut off funding for scientific meetings during 2019, alluding to the lack of budgetary allocations available for such purposes.
These actions come up in a context where recipients of already awarded research grants cannot count on further funds, and payments have been partially or totally suspended. Despite this, the state continues demanding annual progress reports with the same level of scientific quality. This scenario of underfunding conspires against the supplies and equipment purchase essential for the development of research projects and any scientific and technical activity, as well as the possibility of maintaining collaborative work with research groups within the country and abroad.
In addition, the salaries and stipends of PhD and postdoctoral scholarships are devalued, reaching values below what is considered the standard cost of living, which severely hampers the ability of students and researchers to support themselves. The lack of financing of scientific meetings deprives the scientific staff even more from participating in training opportunities at the local and international scale.
All these factors contribute to vast concerns of the scientific community–the precariousness of work in scientific and technical areas and the lack of professional growth opportunities in the country encourage the expatriation of young graduates, who are looking for better job opportunities, which is simultaneously resulting in the dismantlement of multiple current research lines.
This scenario of emptying and postponement of the national research system inevitably leads to a loss of human potential, highly trained and qualified professionals, whose productive participation plays an indispensable role for the economic and social development of Argentina.
The disinterest of the current government to maintain funding for the science and technology system is also reflected in the recent de-hierarchization of the National Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, which was reduced to a secretary. This fact was a clear message from the national government that Science, Technology and Productive Innovation are not considered as keystones to guarantee the welfare of society as a whole.
The SETAC Argentina Chapter hereby warns the authorities that regular Science, Technology and Innovation sector activities result in products that are not necessarily measured in immediate economic benefits, but in the creation and dissemination of knowledge, essential to the development and progress of the country.
Due to the aforementioned, and because SETAC is a scientific society that promotes research, technological development and education in areas of high social impact such as environmental problems, management and regulation of natural resources, we consider it essential to reinstate funding as we have described, as soon as possible, and recover the resources to continue the path of scientific and technological development of our country. We support the statement that scientific development, in all areas of knowledge, constitutes a key resource for the improvement of our society and the independence of our country. To achieve these objectives, the financing of scientific and technical organizations by the State should not be understood as a cost but as an essential investment for the development of a country with more equal opportunities for their inhabitants.
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