Science can bring together countries which are in conflict with each other, Europe’s Research Commissioner told an event in Brussels on collaboration between the EU and neighbouring countries.
‘Science is really a common language around the table,’ Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, told the conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on 31 March.
One concrete example of this is SESAME, a particle accelerator in Jordan that is being built with the support of other countries in the region, including Israel and Palestine.
‘It’s a project that unites the peoples of Iran with the peoples of Israel, of Palestine, of Cyprus, of Turkey, of Egypt, and the EU has contributed a great deal to that,’ Commissioner Moedas told the event, called Building Together Knowledge-orientated and Forward-looking EU Neighbourhood.
‘It holds a great significance at a regional level because it unites people through the elevated language of science, providing local employment and investment.’
The event, which comes just a week and a half after Ukraine became a full member of the EU's research funding programme Horizon 2020, was the first time that the ITRE European Parliament committee on research and the AFET committee on foreign affairs met jointly to discuss research.
Moment of hardship
Becoming part of Horizon 2020 represents an important step towards the EU for the former Soviet country.
‘We all live from the same earth, and we all drink from the same water cycles.’
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
‘We know that Ukraine has been going through a unique moment of hardship, and for Ukrainian scientists especially it is and it was a moment in time where they found that they were left alone,’ Commissioner Moedas said. ‘So the fact that the European Union was there for them was extremely important.’
Becoming a full member of Horizon 2020 means that Ukrainian scientists have the same opportunities as researchers in the EU to apply for funding.
‘I do think that Horizon 2020 will be one of the major contributions to the development of the innovative society in Ukraine,’ Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister for Education and Science, Inna Sovsun, told the meeting.
As well as bringing together nations that are in conflict with each other, science diplomacy can address issues which cross borders such as water security. That's important because, as the world warms, researchers fear that there will be shortages of water in the Mediterranean.
‘We all live from the same earth, and we all drink from the same water cycles, we need our neighbours to be close partners in this challenge,’ Commissioner Moedas said.
Relying just on numbers to assess gender equality is insufficient because companies and researchers are smart enough to game the system, a conference in Brussels, Belgium, has heard.
The first Middle East particle accelerator – officially opened on 16 May – sets an example for young researchers on how a small group of people can build bridges across the troubled region, according to one of the original founders of the project, Professor Eliezer Rabinovici from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, who also holds the Louis Michel Chair at France’s Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques.
An on-demand style of farming inspired by the Toyota car manufacturing lines of the 1950s could be the key to improving efficiency on farms, which would in turn lead to cheaper food in European supermarkets, according to Dr Manoj Dora from Brunel University London in the UK.
For most women, the first pregnancy is a joyous time that they will remember with tenderness for the rest of their lives. But for 5 % of all pregnant women around the world, the journey towards childbirth takes an unexpected turn for the worse.
‘Lean’ farming could reduce waste.
Pre-eclampsia affects 800 000 women a year worldwide.
SESAME co-founder helped set up Middle East particle accelerator to build bridges in the region.