Confronting COVID-19 and Meeting the SDGS: A Proposal for Implementing the ‘Mision de Sabios’ Report in Colombia Using a TIP Approach

Thinking & Analysis

Guest Blog by Johan Schot and Matias Ramirez from the TIPC team, originally published on johanschot.com, to mark the release of the influential report.

Professor Johan Schot and Dr Matias Ramirez emphasise the need for system change to confront the current medical emergency as the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) joins forces with a number of universities and institutions that constitute the new TIPC Latin American Hub to put forward a strategy for implementing the Misión de Sabios’ recommendations.

COVID-19 has had a deep impact on the world. An important question is whether lessons are learned and if this crisis will be used to transform the economy and society into more resilient and sustainable directions (see this interview with Professor Schot on implications of COVID-19 on the Second Deep Transition, a sustainability revolution), or if we continue on the previous unsustainable, unequal and uneven trajectory of development. Professor Johan Schot and Dr Matias Ramírez call for a new Transformative Innovation Policy that could contribute to such a transformation because it focuses on wider system change, which not only encompasses the healthcare system but also other systems in areas such as mobility, food, energy, water, education and communication.

A shock like COVID-19 shines a light on the medical and pharmaceutical industry and the need for system change towards preventative investment against future pandemics. This could provide a huge impulse to a large number of experiments that make the world less vulnerable. These experiments could lead the way to a new medical system based on prevention, integrating medical care with social care and taking into account lifestyle issues (for example sugar intake), focusing on “just” investments in drugs and provision of medical care. Such a system would invest in vaccine development but also preventing many children from dying from water pollution and undernourishment.

However, the COVID-19 crisis not only emphasises the weaknesses of our healthcare system, it also shows the connections between healthcare and globalization, large concentrations of people living in urban areas, the need for more local food production, and a provision of digital tools that do not lead to more surveillance but respect human rights, so they can be used safely and democratically to mitigate a pandemic. Hence, the COVID-19 pandemic ruthlessly demonstrates the interconnectedness of systems and the need to consider many different areas and players for enabling transformative change.

This is the background to an extended policy report written by Johan Schot (a member of the Misión de Sabios) and Matias Ramirez, together with a team of TIPC researchers to the Misión de Sabios. This was set up in 2019 and was tasked with developing a new vision and program for a National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy. When the President of Colombia, Ivan Duque, received the report he announced that this would serve as a central mandate for MinCiencias, the new Colombian ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). As a contribution to this report, which has now been published (In English and a shorter version in Spanish) a series of proposals are developed for a new transformative innovation policy in Colombia, based on the work with the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC), of which Colombia is a member.

The report proposes a national programme of experimentation, designed and coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, that connects the missions and different projects working on social and environmental transformations for sustainable human development (p.290 Mision de Sabios Report). A wide range of universities in Colombia is ready to respond to this proposal and work with MinCiencias to implement it. They will join efforts in TIPC’s Latin America Hub which is officially launching soon.

The Hub aims to support the introduction of a national program of transformative innovation. The universities engage in Experimental Policy Engagements with regional stakeholders and, by applying the methodology developed with TIPC members, participate in an international platform for experimenting with transformative change. Inferences drawn from their approach to system change can provide aid in preparing countries for health crises like COVID-19 and a wide range of global challenges as expressed in the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  


About Johan Schot:

Professor Schot started working with MinCiencias (former Colciencias) in 2016 when it became a partner of the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC). Professor Schot is the founder and academic director of TIPC and has published influential research on TIP. Over the course of three years, MinCiencias and TIPC developed the Libro Verde (Green Book), a global milestone and roadmap for embedding Transformative Innovation Policy into Colombia’s national strategy. Johan Schot and Ed Steinmueller’s key publication on Three Frames of Innovation provides the theoretical
framework for TIPC and the proposal submitted as part of Johan Schot’s work with the Misión de Sabios. For more information follow @Johan_Schot or visit www.johanschot.com. For media requests, please contact Jenny Witte: j.witte@uu.nl.

About Matias Ramirez:

Matias Ramirez is Senior Lecturer at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) of the University of Sussex. From SPRU he coordinated the work of TIPC in Colombia and together with Professor Schot and the team at the Policy and Evaluation Unit in Colciencias, contributed to the writing of the Libro Verde Policy Report in 2018. He also took the lead in editing documents on Policy for Regional Transformations in Colombia and has written on the importance of social movements for transformative change. Together with Colombian partners, Dr Matias Ramirez has set up and is leading the TIPC Latin America Hub. For more information follow @matiasramirez50 or write to mr230@sussex.ac.uk.

About MinCiencias:

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MinCiencias) is part of the Colombian National Government and responsible for the management and public administration of the National System of Science, Technology and Innovation (SNCTI). MinCiencias is in charge of formulating, guiding, directing, coordinating, executing, implementing and controlling the state policy in this matter. Minister Mabel Gisela Torres is directing MinCiencias. She was appointed by the President of the Republic Iván Duque Márquez in December 2019 to implement Misión de Sabios’ recommendations. For more information follow @MincienciasCo or visit www.minciencias.gov.co.