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Diplomacy in Action

U.S.-Portugal Bilateral Commission Draft Action Statement from the November 2011 Meeting of its Science, Technology, Energy and Environment Committee


Report
Office of the Science and Technology Adviser
Washington, DC
December 21, 2011

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Portugal and the United States convened the inaugural meeting of the Bilateral Commission’s Committee for Science, Technology, Energy and Environment on November 30, 2011. Committee members agreed to establish mechanisms to share research data to support the development of clean energy technologies, promote sustainable fisheries, and protect the health of coastal marine habitats. They also agreed to assist U.S. scientists funded by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) to select the site for a radar facility in the Azores. The radar will be part of a network that measures weather in space that can significantly affect the increasing number of space-based navigation and communications systems we rely upon. The committee also identified steps to foster joint research and demonstration projects aimed at environmental protection and the development of innovative energy solutions, including sustainable energy development in island nations. Finally, the committee explored ways we could work together to promote public understanding of scientific research and to expand public-private partnerships in our joint research and demonstration projects. Committee members agreed to take the following specific actions in 2012:

Developing Innovative Energy Solutions

The United States and Portugal agreed to develop stronger collaborations in pursuit of clean energy technologies by:

· Promoting Energy Efficiency in Island Nations: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Portugal’s Foundation for Science & Technology and the Azores Regional Government shared information on respective island clean energy programs. Portugal expressed interest in collaborating with and in exploring the possibilities of joining the International Partnership for Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN), which is a trilateral initiative between the United States, Iceland, and New Zealand aimed at facilitating the scaling of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies on islands across the globe, particularly considering the connections of this initiative with MIT- Portugal “Green Islands” project in the Azores. The Portuguese authorities also welcomed the interest expressed by the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA) in the “Green Islands - Azores” research project. To facilitate EDIN’s potential expansion, Portugal offered to share case study data. The U.S. Department of Energy will organize a virtual meeting with Portuguese counterparts to identify next steps to cooperate through EDIN by March 2012.

· Developing Synergies in Wave and Offshore Wind Research: The U.S. Department of Energy, Portugal’s Directorate General for Energy and Geology, and Portugal’s Wave Energy Center agreed to establish partnerships on wave energy demonstration projects and a network of researchers currently studying wave energy to share data and methodologies. Under the2008 Memorandum of Understanding on wave energy, the U.S. and Portugal agreed to study the possibility of establishing a Joint Working Group and to explore the potential benefits of expanding the scope of cooperation to offshore wind technologies and ocean spatial planning, given that Portugal is accelerating its research in those fields. The United States and Portugal also agreed to explore mechanisms to foster public-private partnerships, noting that clean energy development cannot be done without the support of private industry. Both parties agree to proceed as soon as possible on cooperation activities and to identify focal points to establish activities for 2012. The Department of Energy will take the lead in coordinating a virtual meeting with interested researchers and government officials in early 2012.


Enhancing Research Collaboration and Promoting Public Understanding of Science

Portugal and the United States agreed to take the following steps to strengthen our research collaboration and explored ways we could work together to promote public understanding of science and common values shared by U.S. and Portuguese researchers such as merit review, data sharing, and transparency:

· Strategic Partnerships in Science, Technology and Higher Education: The Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) underlined the very positive impact of university partnerships with American universities. FCT highlighted three of the research projects resulting from these partnerships: “Green Islands – Azores,” “Porto Intelligent Transportation Systems,” and “R&D in Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine” and proposed the exploration of joint funding mechanisms. FCT and NSF agreed to consider exploring mechanisms for a parallel grant review to support collaborative projects between U. S. and Portuguese researchers. The Portuguese government is also interested in visiting scientist programs, educational opportunities, and bilateral workshops that can be supported through supplements to active NSF grants. The Luso-American Foundation (FLAD) also endorsed, as a priority, the development of new ways of collaboration between FCT and NSF. The Department of State (Embassy Lisbon) and the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take the lead in coordinating an initial virtual meeting by March 2012.

· Advancing Space Weather Research: Recognizing the importance of space-based navigation and communications systems, Portugal and the United States agreed to accelerate efforts to expand to the Azores the U.S. NSF’s network of radars that measure weather in space (the SuperDARN project). As a first step, Portugal and the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon will support a visit in early 2012 by the SuperDARN project’s principle investigator from Dartmouth College, aimed at finalizing site selection and establishing linkages to Portuguese universities to share data and to develop other educational opportunities associated with the operation of the radar.

· Promoting Oceanic Research: The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) proposed to collaborate in two research areas: the study of shared Atlantic large pelagic stocks such as tunas led by its Southeast Fisheries Science Center and a socio-cultural research project aimed at understanding the role of the immigrant Portuguese fishing community in the United States led by its Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Science Center. Portugal’s Office to the Secretary of State for the Sea and the Portuguese Water Institute (INAG) agreed in principle, noting that the Portuguese government is currently reorganizing its maritime research institutions. Portugal commented that such research is aligned with its renewed focus on promoting Portugal’s maritime heritage and resources. NOAA and the relevant Portuguese authorities will organize a conference call in early 2012 to further develop collaborative research projects in these areas.

· Enhancing Peer Review Grant Research: The Portuguese government expressed interest in working with the U. S. National Science Foundation and the Department of State to explore mechanisms to establish a parallel grant review system to support collaborative projects between U. S. and Portuguese researchers. The Portuguese government is also interested in visiting scientist programs, educational opportunities, and bilateral workshops that can be supported through supplements to active NSF grants to U.S. researchers. These supplements can be coordinated through the NSF Office of International Science and Engineering, NSF Program Officers, and the Department of State. The Department of State (Embassy Lisbon) will take the lead in coordinating an initial virtual meeting by March 2012.

Protecting the Environment

The United States and Portugal also agreed to enhance our cooperation to address mutual global challenges through the following activities:

· Portugal and the United States agreed that NASA-Portuguese Center for Pollution Prevention (C3P) cooperation in support of environmental good practices and technological information exchange could be viewed as a model for new areas of cooperation. NASA and C3P committed to continue its cooperation and maintain support for ongoing projects, including the ECOS Network – Energy and Sustainable Construction, the contribution to Berlenga Island as a Laboratory of Sustainability, the NASA/C3P Technical Workshops, and FLAD-supported NASA/C3P Students Program.

· NOAA and C3P expressed interest in joint research collaboration and data exchange in support of the C3P-sponsored “Oceanic Technologies Research Area” concept paper from the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria (IPL). The United States and Portugal indicated interest in sharing good practices to protect marine areas and identify changes in the structure and function of marine ecosystems in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Berlengas. NOAA and C3P agreed to organize a conference call in 2012 to discuss next steps and seek other partners.

Participants

U.S. participants included representatives from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of State.

Portuguese participants included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Portuguese Embassy to the United States, Department of the Americas, Department of Economic International Organizations, and Camões Institute), General-Directorate for Energy and Geology of the Ministry of Economy and Employment; Ministry of Agriculture, Sea, Environment, and Regional Planning (Cabinet of the Secretary of State for the Sea, International Relations Office for the Environment, Center for Pollution Prevention (C3P) and Portuguese Water Institute (INAG)); Foundation for Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education and Science; Cabinet of the Undersecretary for External Cooperation of the Azores Regional Government; the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD); and the Wave Energy Center.

Documents

The following documents were prepared for the inaugural meeting of the Committee:

· Agenda;

· Summary of the ongoing FLAD Programs/Activities;

· Cooperation Portugal/USA in Course: Statistical and Factual Data Descriptions of 3 pilot projects (“Green Islands - Azores”, “Porto Intelligent Transport Systems”, and “R&D in Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine”), prepared by Portugal’s Foundation for Science and Technology, Ministry for Education and Science;

· EDIN Overview (PowerPoint presentation);

· NASA – C3P Projects and Activities Fact Sheet;

· “Oceanic Technologies Research Area” concept paper; and

· Briefing Paper from NOAA Fisheries



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