Un modelo para la región latinoamericana: sobre el CICA como Centro Colaborador del OIEA

Les compartimos esta reflexión, escrita por el Dr. Ian Glen Ferris, exoficial y gerente de proyectos del OIEA para Costa Rica en la década de los 90 y 2000s, acerca de los reconocimientos recibidos por el CICA como Centro de Colaboración del Organismo Internacional de Energía Atómica (OIEA).

El Dr. Ferris impulsó y colaboró para que el CICA recibiera su primera designación en el año 2006. Actualmente, está pensionado, vive en Australia y desarrolla actividades de identificación de aves.

¡Muchas gracias al Dr. Ferris por este aporte!

Collaborating Centre backgrounder

Por: Ian Glen Ferris

Exoficial y gerente de proyectos del OIEA para Costa Rica

El Dr. Ferris en el Parque Nacional Bellthorpe, Queensland, Australia.


Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest surplus in food trade and the highest average water availability across all regions. At the same time, formidable barriers or wicked problems exist that hinder sustainable development and regional resilience. In 1995 staff from Centro de Investigación en Contaminación Ambiental, Universidad de Costa Rica (CICA-UCR) with support from IAEA and FAO experts began implementing a laboratory quality assurance system with an innovative fee-for-service and social contract. Within five years, CICA-UCR achieved accreditation under ISO/IEC 25 for 49 analyses of water quality and pesticide residue analysis. The program’s success created a model for the region and on 16 July 2007 CICA-UCR became an IAEA Collaborating Centre for eLearning and Accelerated Capacity Building for Food and Environmental Protection. The aims were to:

  • complement and extend regional activities of the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme of Nuclear techniques in Food and Agriculture;
  • increase regional institutional capacity in food and environmental protection and support national initiatives; and
  • promote and accelerate capacity building activities and technology transfer amongst developing countries.

The Collaborating Centre provided opportunities for analysts to train in an accredited laboratory with instructions in both English and Spanish. Mentoring and the laboratory twinning programme helped build regional laboratory capacity to monitor compliance with good agriculture practice (GAP) and complement limited end product testing. A more holistic strategy aimed to prevent problems by feeding back relevant indicators to stakeholders. The Collaborating Centre participated in research activities that focused on adapting the framework and tools to promote GAP at a landscape/subcatchment scale. Elements included:

  • minimizing soil erosion, fostering biodiversity, energy efficiency, socially just and resilient farming systems;
  • improving water use efficiency to minimize leaching of agrochemicals;
  • providing Pesticide Impact Rating Index assessments for different pesticides and land uses;
  • using chemical and biological analyses to monitor downstream and upstream reference sites;
  • collecting georeferenced samples to help pinpoint the source and identity of toxic constituents;
  • providing important feedback to land managers about management practices under local conditions; and
  • raising awareness of value of conservation buffers and artificial wetland in minimizing agrochemical losses to protect streams and waterways.

The Collaborating Centre provided pre-requisite training and hosted regular coordination events. Participants were encouraged to take online courses and successfully complete them before undertaking laboratory work or research projects. The focus was on training-the-trainer, whereby participants should train/mentor at least two other analysts to accelerate capacity building. In addition, they were encouraged to update/develop training materials new course content or translating existing course content. The Collaborating Centre leveraged open-source programs and, more recently, open coursework and the virtual laboratory that like many scientific publications may now be available for free over the world-wide web.

CICA-UCR was one of the founding laboratories of IAEA’s initiative to create the Latin American and Caribbean Analytical Network on “Quality Assurance and Quality Control Measures in Food Testing Laboratories” and is currently the regional coordinator. This network provides a dedicated forum to address barriers to laboratory acreditation, including problematic matrix effect, costs, resource availability as well as harmonizing methodologies across laboratories. 

The first two decades of the 21st century exposed vulnerabilities in the global response to pandemics, food and environmental security and calls for better ways to protect and engage citizens. The Collaborating Centre can help deploy integrated monitoring strategies that are underpined by quality assurance (transparency) and a just social contract. There remains challenges—how best to scale up subcatchment projects, how to garner the necessary funding, how to empower all stakeholders in ways that find the best possible solution for upstream and downstream stakeholders. Notwithstanding, the Collaborating Centre by its very nature seeks collaboration, open-source tools and local knowledge to catalyze change for the betterment of all.

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