Previous Fora / 2003

Opening greetings by E. Sylvester Vizi (President of the HAS)

World Science Forum
8 November 2003
E. Sylvester Vizi

Opening greetings


Your Excellencies! Ladies & Gentlemen!

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to welcome all of you who have arrived from 65 countries: scientists, politicians, decision-makers, laypeople, and artists, all with your varying cultural, scientific, and economic backgrounds. The aim of this Forum has been to invite different people from politics, science, and also from the economy to discuss the role of science in our lives, an important issue of very common interest.

The organiser of this Forum is the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. A tiny nation of 10 million, Hungary produced a disproportionately high number of scientific Nobel Prize winners in the 20th century. "Hungarian fingerprints all over the 20th century" the N.Y. Times wrote a couple of years ago when discussing the contribution of Hungarian scientists to science and the economy.

Of all the nations of the world, we have had the courage to organise a world-conference like this one on the influence of science on society, the economy, and our private lives. But in actual fact, it's been you who have supplied us with the necessary courage when replying to our very first letter saying it was a good idea, please, go ahead. The president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi was also one of the first who said, go ahead. He's been very supportive. And so we were brave enough and we have received financial help from two consecutive Hungarian governments. And now here we are, and it is my privilege to welcome you. More than three hundred will participate. This alone would be a success.

Science is the cultural heritage of humankind. Science is based on facts. In science, quality and value alone are important. I think the new millennium finds us in the middle of a biological and information revolution. We all have to take this fact into account. This revolution inspires much of humankind to change the course of our lives and to improve the quality of life world-wide. We, scientists and also those involved in politics, have to understand that in this century, more than ever before, the world will be shaped by science. Knowledge, mainly scientific knowledge will be the engine driving modern societies forward. The US and Japan have started to work out a knowledge-based society. Following suit, the European Union is also going to build up a knowledge-based society. But we have to bear in mind that science, especially the inappropriate application of science, can result in very negative things. Thus, it is our common duty to make every attempt to find solutions to our social, health care, environmental, and economic problems often induced by an inappropriate application of science to our everyday lives. There are several questions that have to be answered. In the course of this Forum, we have to formulate at least some of the answers.

The question arises, of course, how to find good solutions? First and foremost, we should learn from each other. And I think, this is precisely what this meeting is all about.

Last but not least, I'd like to mention that a meeting such as this one is always a very good opportunity to visit another country, another city. So, please, find some time to see our beautiful city as well and also to meet our friendly people, try and make friends. So, may I wish you all a very successful discussion and meeting.