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The Diplomatic Academy of Chile and ESO sign a collaboration agreement to strengthen ties in scientific diplomacy

Wednesday, November 1st 2023

The Diplomatic Academy of Chile Andrés Bello and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) signed a collaboration agreement to strengthen ties in the field of scientific diplomacy.

The agreement, which was signed by the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Gloria de la Fuente, and the ESO representative before the Chilean Government, Luis Chavarría, establishes general guidelines for both institutions to carry out joint activities. Its purpose is to exchange and facilitate voluntary access to scientific and legal information, bibliographic resources or other similar sources, and to develop outreach activities in areas of mutual interest.

In addition, with this instrument, ESO commits to coordinate a visit to any of its facilities once a year by students in their final year of professional training at the Diplomatic Academy.

The agreement was signed during a visit by the undersecretary to ESO's Paranal Observatory, together with students from the Diplomatic Academy, to see for herself the operation of the center, which is located 130 kilometers south of Antofagasta, Chile, at an altitude of 2,600 meters, and which houses the Paranal Observatory. The center houses ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world's most advanced optical instrument, and will also be the operations center for ESO's Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), the world's largest optical telescope currently under construction.

"With this agreement we continue to strengthen the links between ESO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The diplomats who will represent our country abroad must prepare themselves for the emerging challenges of the global agenda, which have in astronomy a very important aspect for the international projection of Chile", said the Foreign Ministry authority, who stressed that "Chile is a natural laboratory that has geographical and climatic conditions recognized worldwide for the observation of the universe".

For his part, ESO's representative said that "the role of science in bringing together visions and interests is very important to generate common benefits. This cooperation agreement is a new step in this direction, and we hope that this will be a significant experience for the Diplomatic Academy and for its students throughout their careers".

It should be noted that more than 40% of the world's large telescopes are currently installed in Chile, and it is expected that by the end of this decade, the country will host more than 60% of the world's optical and radio astronomical observation capacities. "The location of astronomical observatories in Chile is the concrete result of a foreign and scientific policy that has successfully positioned the country at the forefront of world astronomy," added the undersecretary.

ESO is an intergovernmental organization of global relevance, which brings together 16 European states as full members, in addition to Australia as a strategic partner.  It stands out for its large-scale projects in the design, construction and installation of large ground-based astronomical observatories. It has been operating in Chile since November 1963, when it was established in Chile under an agreement with the Chilean government.