Introduction by the Moderator H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN at the World Science Forum in Budapest, on 4 November 2015.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
“Crisis” is probably among the most frequently heard words in the media today, describing the state of economic, social, political and environmental affairs of our era. And although the history of human civilization is replete with cataclysmic changes, at no point have the challenges that we face today been as global, as complex, and as interconnected as today.
Today, the international community turns to scientists for answers to some of the most pressing social, economic and environmental problems transcending national boundaries. Whether it is the urgent task of halting climate change, an acute need to provide basic health care services for large parts of the world’s population, or the shared responsibility to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, the science of the twenty-first century is expected to point to the effective solutions.
The power of scientific cooperation has for many decades brought together peoples from different countries and continents, has defined common values and aspirations across national boundaries, and has created conditions for durable peace to flourish. Science diplomacy is a gravitational force that manifests itself through relations between people and communities. It is stronger than, and will eventually prevail over, the forces of division and conflict.
To me, the event we all are participating in today, the Budapest World Science Forum, ever since its inception in 1999, always represented an example of what the international relations will look like in the future, when we reach a level of consciousness which simply excludes the use or even the threat of military intervention or economic coercion, and where culture of peace and mutual respect will guide the global pursuit for progress. My country, Hungary, has long been committed, in words and in action, to fostering peace with cooperation through science.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the recent years we have witnessed the eruption of numerous armed conflicts, the threat caused by terrorism and violent extremism grows with every day, environmental challenges and disasters induced by climate change threaten the lives of millions. As a consequence, more people are on the move than ever before that is more than one billion out of the seven billion people of the world, making global migration the biggest trend of our century and one of the greatest challenges the international community is faced by.
It is time to understand, that the underlying causes just mentioned are nothing else, but different forms of unsustainability, be it economic, environmental or social. In view of this, it is most welcome that in September, at the Sustainable Development Summit Heads of State and Government have gathered to adopt by consensus, and pronounced their strong commitment to fulfill, the politically binding agreement on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The agenda, if fulfilled, promises to put our Globe onto a sustainable path and correct the many wrongs that contribute to global migration nowadays. This is an ambitious and transformative package of 17 interrelated Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets aiming to build a people and planet centered future of prosperity and well-being and leave no one behind.
With the adoption of this new Agenda we now have a beacon laying down clear pathways to deal with the phenomena of global migration. The Agenda, first and foremost, aims to address the root causes of unsustainability, by providing comprehensive approaches, so migration does not have to occur. For this, the framework of SDGs aims to end poverty, promote shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection, so that people can again strive in their own countries. Secondly, it acknowledges the role of migration in sustainable development, including its multidimensional nature, taking into consideration the interests of the countries of origin, transit and destination.
By calling for migration that is orderly, safe, regular and responsible, the Agenda turns migration from challenge to opportunity, a possible contributor to sustainable development. Moreover, the 2030 Agenda calls for planned and well-managed migration policies, which is far cry from what we are witnessing in our countries today. However, if we are serious about our commitment, we cannot settle for less. Any other solution, whatever reasoning or pretext is used to promote it, will only doom the whole Agenda to failure.
If managed well, migration can also become a catalyst for scientific progress, by facilitating the transfer of knowledge. The challenge here is finding the right balance between “brain drain” and “brain gain”. We Hungarians are proud of our compatriots – Fülöp Lénárd, György Békésy, Dénes Gábor, Jenő Wigner, János Harsányi, György Oláh, Ferenc Hersko – who after their education left the country and became a Nobel laureate for their work done abroad, but at the same time we also feel a sense of loss.
The field of science therefore requires a different approach to movement of people and transfer of knowledge. Through the lenses of the 2030 Agenda the sustainable way is through the creation of possibilities for the people to acquire knowledge in a vigorous scientific environment, with the aim to return to their homeland to contribute to the innovative capacities of their societies and to exploit their knowledge for the benefit and development of their home countries.
The international community must rely heavily on all forms of scientific cooperation to bring sustainable development Goals about. As science, technology and innovation have played a critical role in making significant strides towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, STI will remain a crucial and overall enabler and equalizer in the context of the new 2030 Agenda, a driver for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Hungary, an active participant in the process of elaboration of the 2030 Agenda and former co-chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, is a strong supporter of the newly established framework and also a strong advocate for such forms of mobility and transfer of knowledge. An excellent example for it is the decision of the Government to launch the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme through which it is partnering up with more and more countries, including countries of the Middle East and Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this roundtable discussion our distinguished guests – Her Royal Highness Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the El Hassan Science City, and President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan, Ms. Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences of UNESCO, Mr. Ádám Török, Secretary-General of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Mr. Vladimir Rakhmanin, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, FAO – will seek views on what role science can play in addressing challenges of global migration, how scientific cooperation and thorough and systematic social science analysis can contribute to the establishment of a Global Partnership addressing the causes and consequences of this global phenomena.
A topic of pivotal importance for discussion could be how to address the need to strengthen the science-policy interface and the imperative to provide a strong evidence-based instrument to support policymakers in addressing this global challenge, which requires strong vision by our political leaders. Another major challenge in this regard is how to integrate STI policies into national development strategies and sectoral development plans with a view to address this global reality. In this context, articulating the role of science in the 2030 Agenda will be of utmost importance.