SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that she would introduce a bill in Congress next week creating a Science and Technology Ministry, fulfilling one of her campaign promises.
“This will be a future-oriented project for Chile, balancing the sciences, humanities and arts, and serving as a space for the free exploration of truth and knowledge,” the president said during the opening session of the 6th Congress of the Future, the South American country’s main scientific forum.
Bachelet said she would sign the bill on Jan. 16, adding that she was confident lawmakers would approve the legislation before her term ends in March 2018.
The decision to create a new ministry stems from a willingness “to place the human being at the center of development, having knowledge and creativity be drivers of that engine of development,” Bachelet said.
The Congress of the Future, which runs until Saturday, drew more than 90 prominent scientists and humanists, including two Nobel laureates, from around the world to Santiago.
British molecular biologist Jack Szostak won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine along with two colleagues for the discovery of an enzyme that protects chromosomes from degradation.
Japanese physicist Hiroshi Amano won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes that have enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.
Among the other distinguished individuals attending the conference are Japanese video-game designer Toru Iwatani, creator of the famous Pac-Man, and Irish journalist John Mulholland, editor of Britain’s Observer newspaper.