Ecomaterials: connecting science and the grassroots

Science plays an increasingly important role in modern society, in an interconnected and globalized world that debates alternatives about growth and how to protect our planet from total destruction. Thus, it is important to diminish the gap between scientific results and their manifestation in a product or service, especially in developing countries that have weak infrastructures and inadequate interface mechanisms between science and practice.  In response to this situation, the Center for Research and Development of Structures and Materials (CIDEM) from the Universidad Central de las Villas, the EcoSur Network for an Economic and Ecologic Habitat, and Basin, invite those interested in the development, production and use of ecomaterials to a new edition of the International Ecomaterials Conferences, to be held in Cienfuegos, from November 14 to 17, 2005. The theme of the 2005 conference is “Ecomaterials: connecting science with the grassroots”
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The last edition of Ecomaterials took place in Santa Clara , Cuba , in September 2001, with the theme “Ecomaterials in the prevention and alleviation of disasters”, where more than 150 people from 29 countries of Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America participated. Through innovative ways of focusing the discussions, the event converted into an ideal vehicle for interchange of experiences among the participants.

The recently created organizing committee has sought to learn from the lessons of the past two editions in order to create an even more propitious space for discussion during the event. Instead of interminable sessions of speeches, the event seeks to create spaces for reflection and discussion, interchange of ideas and knowledge. Thus, each day will begin with a plenary session to which well-known personalities from around the world will be invited to make short presentations about a special theme. A moderator will facilitate, at times even provoke, the interchange of information among the panel and the participants through questions and answers.

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Afterwards the plenary will divide into three works groups, each with a specific theme closely related to the theme of the day. The experts from the panel will preside over each of these sessions, which will begin with five or six presentations previously selected by the scientific committee, and continue with open debates. Because of time restrictions the number of presentations is limited, but space will be provided for an display of posters and similar material, and at the end of each day there will be a 30 minute discussion with the authors of the material on exhibit.

On the first day the theme will be “new developments” and will include new scientific advances and their potential, as well as experiences with their introduction in the practice. The second day will focus upon “connecting science with the grassroots”, basically viewing the mechanisms that diminish the distance between scientific results and their application, especially the transfer of knowledge and technology. The third day will present “impacts”, specifically how new developments reverberate as new goods or services in society.

Onsite visits to projects the day prior to commencement of the work sessions has revealed itself to be an effective way to begin communication among the participants. Various excursions are planned to projects carried out in the province of Villa Clara .

Many organizations concerned with the theme of “Habitat” have shown interest in the ecomaterials conferences, among them “Habitat for Humanity”, “UN Habitat, Nairobi ”, Swiss Development Cooperation, GTZ, and other development organizations. Universities, foundations and research institutes, non-governmental organizations and private enterprises also have taken active participation in previous conferences.

Cuba will again welcome the participants with its Caribbean hospitality and excellent climate, and the friendliness and hospitality of its inhabitants. The organizers will do everything possible to ensure a pleasant stay, one that will leave fond memories of the event. For further information about the conference, please contact the organizing committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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