"Science is a key mover of progress" - first day of WSF 17.11.2011  

In his opening speech Mr József Pálinkás, President of HAS and WSF emphasised the importance of sciences: „Under the changing conditions of nature, science is faced by even greater challenges than before. Research should find quick, effective solutions and feasible answers to the problems raised by everyday life” – said the President. The greeting words of Mr. Pálinkás were followed by the opening speech of Mr Viktor Orbán Prime Minister of Hungary.

Apart from their innovative and flexible ways of thinking, firm ethical values are also key factors necessary for reaching this goal, Mr Pálinkás said. The central topics of the Forum’s lectures are dealing with the role of science in economic and social development, it examines how it can help governments and political decision-makers. He asserted that this Forum represent a unique occasion for dialogue: it is easier to find scientific answers bringing solutions to social needs through consultations.

Representatives of both science and politics are to look for new ways of reaching their appointed goals – said Mr Viktor Orbán.  He added that players in the economy should be urged to support research and political-decision makers should support researchers to boost their creative energies both financially also by eliminating administrative obstacles that hinder the flexible functioning of universities and research centres. Let the spirit of scientific curiosity come out of the bottle to work and give hope to the global development of civilisation - said the prime minister to the participants of the Forum.

In his video message, UN General Secretary Mr Ban Ki Moon called attention to the importance of protecting the environment. Participants of such global events should do their best to show the strength and importance of science. New generations of researchers, engineers, investors, entrepreneurs should come together and co-operate with political decision makers - said Mr Ban Ki Moon.

Director General of UNESCO Ms Irina Bokova also stressed the importance of co-operation: “The challenges of today are clear in each country, and so are possible answers. But actors of scientific life should co-operate with each other in order to be able to implement the right solutions, they have to continue dialogues also with representatives of the governments” – she said. Science should serve societies of the 21th century. A general aim is to ensure the freedom of opinion, the rights to education, access to participation in research. Science is a key factor in development also today – concluded  UNESCO’s Director General.

According to the President of ICSU Mr Yuan Tseh Lee we have to redefine the priorities of development, to stabilise temperature by stopping global warming while minimalising the so-called carbon footprint of mankind. Representatives of science and politics should step up in co-operation without delay in this urgent matter.
Following up on those thoughts, Director General of AAAS Mr Alan I. Leshner said that we face unprecedented challenges. All aspects of modern life are somehow connected to science – mankind needs new energy resources, new methods to avoid human and environmental disasters. Mr Leshner said that co-operation among scientific communities has to be strengthened and also their relation to society has to be reinforced. While science itself changes, it also changes the surrounding world. 

We have to do a better job in co-ordinating scientific co-operation on the national, international, and global levels - emphasised Brazil’s Prime Minister Mr Aloizio Mercadante. His words were then undergirded from a huge distance. Astronaut Mr Sergei Volkov set an example to the representatives of global scientific and political communities by referring to the close collaboration he and his partners have to accomplish even under pressure by taking into consideration each others’ interest for the sake of a global aim, the achievements of science.

The opening session was followed by the UNESCO’s prize ceremony, where Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO and Ms Madiha Ahmed Al Shaibani Minister of Educationin Oman gave the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environment to the Nigerian Forestry Research Institute. The prize recognizes outstanding initiatives concerning the management and preservation of the environment.

The participants of the Forum continued the discussion in plenary sessions, the first session dealt with the main theme of the Forum:


Plenary Session I. -  “The Changing Landscape of Science: Challenges and Opportunities"

The World Science Forum focuses on changes in the global landscape of science. These phenomena are comprehensive involving both geographical and political re-structuring, the emergence of new fields of science as well as the general growth in the social role, significance, and responsibility of science.

Speakers of the Plenary session I.,  chaired by Mr József Pálinkás, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and WSF talked about the challenges and opportunities generated by a changing world of science.

Ms Gretchen Kalonji Assistant Director-General of Natural Sciences of UNESCO emphasized the importance of international collaborations. The relationship between science and society needs to be reformed and regenerated, forging new international alliances and opening new funding opportunities said Ms Kalonji.

The pursuit of scientific discovery has an enormous impact on our society, said Mr William Colglaizer, Science and Technology Adviser to US Secretary of State Ms Hillary Clinton. He analysed the situation in the US where science is pursued in an innovative way and incorporated in everyday life through the mass media offerring a great adventure to the public. On the other hand science has been proven to be a great diplomatic tool and the common language between different cultures. As an example Mr Colglazier mentioned the situation between the US and the USSR. The two countries resolved their issues by communicating through scientific channels and presently they are forming a scientific alliance to resolve situations in other countries around the world.

Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith FRS
, Chair of the Royal Society Advisory Group on Global Science Report examined the importance of international scientific collaborations. He shed some light on the changes in publication trends. By 2013, he predicted, China will be a world leader in peer-reviewed publications. China is also rising in citation trends and in the not too distant future it will be the second in the world only to the US. Changes are also happening in patents registration but Japan and Germany are still in the lead. International collaborations have risen in the past fifteen years by 35%. Important collaborators are the US followed by the UK, Germany, and France. China is emerging, having finished the publication of its first generation scientific papers, collaboration and referencing are taking place now. The benefits of joint authorship are that only the best people are invited for international collaborations, which creates better value as an outcome.

Former Minister of Science and Technology of Brazil, Mr Sergio Machado Rezende’s presentation focused on the situation of science and technology in Brazil. The scientific progress in Brazil started only in the 1950’s. Brazil’s strength lies in agriculture which provides most of the country’s scientific papers. 3% of the world’s scientific research is being done in Brazil resulting in a 330-million-dollar industry. With 85 000 PhD dissertations and 236 universities Brazil is reaching an influential position in the science world.

Mr Johan Rockström, Executive Director of Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm Resilience Centre, member of ICSU’s Scientific Overview Committee expressed his concern regarding overfishing and pollution. He explained the fragility of the ecosystem with four key elements: the broken balance between the usage of natural resources and the users; climate change; ecosystem decline; the change is occurring much faster than predicted. He suggested to define a desired state and reach that by sharing our resources on an absolute basis.


You can find more details on this session here.


Plenary Session II. - Emerging Powerhouses in Science and Technology

The II. Plenary Session of WSF provided a thorough geographical survey of the changing landscape of today’s science. Chaired by President of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences Mr Jacob Palis, the session offered a truly multifarious picture of what goes on in the scientific life of much of the planet’s surface.

Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan
, President of El Hassan Science City and the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan expressed her intention to raise more concern for human dignity in today’s scientific endeavours. She maintained that some truly creative science was needed to divert more attention to those hundreds of millions of people who live in a dire lack of opportunities, and utmost insecurity.

India’s Science and Technology Minister, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh said, that his country is probably one of the foremost powerhouses of science particularly in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information science. He explained some of this progress was due to his government raising its R and D budget by a yearly 20-25 per cent. He also announced his country’s willingness to organise the next available leg of World Science Forum.

Mr Daniel Hershkowitz, Israeli Science Minister, emphasized the importance of human resources in creating and upgrading centres of science. Countries noted for their backwardness could hardly aspire to become reputable centres of science unless they make decisive first steps in bringing human resources to formerly little-known places.

Deputy Director General of the Morocco-based Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Mr Mukhtar Ahmed in his presentation concentrated upon scientific capacity building in countries previously little-known for their science. He maintained that a network should be formed out of many local, indigenous enterprises, and only the synergy of that network can bring net results.

US President Obama’s scientific envoy, 2009 World Food Prize Laureate Mr Gebisa Ejeta said that the Earth’s population will reach the 9,5 billion limit by 2050, and only by redoubling the Earth’s present food production can we hope to feed those billions in a proper way.

Executive Director of TWAS (the academy of sciences for the developing world) Mr Romain Murenzi pointed to three possible remedies for capacity building in Africa and most Islamic countries: doctoral training programmes, research grants, and scientific mobility, i.e. scientific exchange within various countries of the developing world.

Mr Kari Raivio, Vice-President of ICSU asked the question whether small countries can compete at all in the global race for great scientific findings? He cited several promising examples of small countries achieving competitive successes. He said that very thoughtful funding is vital, and so is the maintenance of high levels at the country’s universities.


You can find more details on this session here.


Plenary Session III. - New fields of science emerge

On the world map of science new fields of science are emerging. It is these new fields of science that speakers of the third plenary session of WSF 2011 explored concentrating on the possibilities offered by new fields and new procedures in research.

Mr Werner Arber
Nobel Laureate and member of the Steering Committee of World Science Forum opened the session by highlighting the importance of advanced technology in science, and mentioning examples of the enormous progress science has made in the last ten-twenty years.

Weather climate change was in the centre of Sir Brian Hoskins's presentation. As Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London he emphasised the growing need for accurate weather prediction. Information is predictable but not used most of the time, so the aim is to find the solution to turn around the uncertainty that is currently associated with climate change. The goal is to expand the interval when making predictions. The large assemblies of simulations require an understanding of the phenomena because society demands answers.

California Institute of Technology Professor Mr Jeff Kimble's presentation focused on the connection between light and matter, and on the so called quantum entanglement. Kimble explained information sharing with quantum internet as deleted data cannot be rebuilt by a third party. This approach called Quantum Information Science leads to a new paradigm in physics, mathematics, and computation. This phenomenon made information teleportable as early as 1993. With multidisciplinary efforts from young people the boundaries of science, society, and technology can be bridged.

Mr Vijay Chandru, Chairman and CEO of Strand Life Sciences emphasized biology at present is a phenomenological science but it should aim to be a predictable one. By virtualising pharmaceutical research scientists can explore more and experiment less and do less harm to biological subjects. This would turn the clinical research world upside down. His prediction for humanity was the line of development from being hunters and gatherers to a biotechnological economy and further to a nanotechnological economy.

Mr Richard A. Mathies, dean of College Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, introduced his project of greening chemistry at Berkeley, which looks into the reformation of chemistry education. He identified the problem by addressing the issues of high level energy and resource-consumption and a high level of pollution. Chemistry engineering, public health, environmental studies are just a few contributors which could be brought together to find a solution. His project supports inventions and the involvement in education influence over chemical design.

Understanding ourselves through understanding our brain functions and activity was in the focus of Collége de France professor, Mr Stanislas Dehaene's presentation. He analysed the imaging methods of modern neuroscience and explained how the different areas of the brain are interconnected. The Human Brain Project aims to combine all the existing data so scientist do not need to re-do experiments that have been done before.

Mr Peter A Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada urged us to tackle the problem of global health together by facing the most threatening diseases. He emphasized the importance of working together on the global grand challenges model and creating opportunities for third world countries' children.


You can find more details on this session here.