News

News
23 October 2009

Conference closes with call for effective response to climate change

The Durban Declaration, highlight of the closing ceremony of the TWAS 11th General Conference, urges negotiators at the climate change conference scheduled to take place in Copenhagen this December to "fully consider the impact of climate change on food, energy and water security" issues that will prove vital to the South's efforts to adapt to climate change and "continue on the path of sustainable development".

The statement also made a more general call for a greater utilization of science, technology and innovation to address critical social needs related to food, energy and water, especially in the poorest developing countries. The goal, the statement said, should be to seek solutions to global development problems without undermining efforts to achieve equity.

The four-day TWAS conference drew 400 scientists from 60 countries, making it one of the largest conferences ever held by the Academy. Fifty new members were elected to the Academy, including nine women and seven scientists from South Africa – both record figures in the Academy's history. A new TWAS Council was also approved, and Jacob Palis was confirmed for another term as president, for 2010–2013.

The TWAS Council approved the Academy's fourth strategic plan, which is designed to guide the organization through the next five years. The plan calls on TWAS to focus on the needs of young scientists, increase the number of women in the Academy, pay special attention to the challenges faced by scientifically lagging developing countries, strengthen TWAS's regional offices and take steps to enable the Academy to become more involved in science policy discussions.

Conference highlights included: 

  • The presentation of the TWAS Presidential Medal to the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, which took place in Pretoria. 
  • The participation of ministers of science and technology from Brazil, India and South Africa in a session devoted to examining the impact of the global financial crisis on science in the developing world. 
  • The announcement of the recipients of the 2009 TWAS prizes and 2010 TWAS medals to scientists from the developing world.
  • Lectures by such prominent scientists as C.N.R. Rao, David Block, Michael Atiyah, Wieland Gevers, Li Zhensheng and Sergio Rezende. 
  • The announcement of the winners of the Ernesto Illy Trieste Science Prize for 2009 – Carlos Clemente Cerri, of Brazil, and Pramod Kumar Aggarwal, of India. 
  • Presentations by 2008 TWAS prize winners, TWAS Young Affiliates and, for the first time, by leaders of research groups supported by the Academy. 
  • The creation of TWAS and TWOWS national chapters in South Africa. 
  • The publication of a comprehensive assessment of the state of science and technology in South Africa. 
  • An additional contribution of USD200,000 by the government of Brazil to the TWAS endowment fund.

The TWAS 20th General Meeting and 11th General Conference was hosted and sponsored by the Academy of Science and Technology of South Africa and South Africa's Department of Science and Technology. Those unable to attend were able to follow the event via the Internet, thanks to a first-ever 'live streaming' of the conference, as well as live blogging by a journalist from SciDev.Net.

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