10 February 2016 – “The US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) bears witness to the power of science diplomacy to bring people together, to strengthen the foundations of peace and this resonates at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate” declared the Director-General Irina Bokova at the annual dinner of the BSF, held at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C.
The event, which was held in the presence of 150 distinguished guests from the scientific and diplomatic communities, included personalities such as Mr Ofir Akunis, Minister of Science, Technology and Space of Israel, Dr. France Cordova, Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation, Professor Alber Teich, BSF Chair and Reuven Azar, Deputy Ambassador of Israel to the United States.
In her intervention, the Director-General commended the BSF for fostering partnership in the field of science, and stressed that “UNESCO benefits greatly from the expertise from both Israel and the United States across many of the Organization’s programmes”.
She underlined that UNESCO “offers a unique platform in terms of cooperation and outreach, enabling American and Israeli scientists to work with colleagues from around the globe”.
In this respect, she referred to the UNESCO-SESAME synchrotron light source project in Jordan, which brings together Israeli experts with scientists from across the Middle East. “
“This project shows the power of science to build peace” she said.
She added that “science has the power to foster mutual understanding and combat ignorance and hatred.” She underscored that this included antisemitism – noting, in this respected, that UNESCO leads the only programme in the United Nations for Holocaust education.
In concluding, Ms. Bokova paid tribute to the exceptional work of astrophysicist France Cordova, by referring to her as “a role model for many young girls – and boys – across the world”.
“One of Israel priority is to increase its international cooperation” said Minister Akunis.
“It is my firm belief that in the modern age, cooperation serves us all much better than competition. Together we can achieve much more than as individual nations,” he continued.
Dr. Cordova commended the Director-General “for her advocacy and for the excellent international work of UNESCO that is helping us all living in a better world”.
She stressed that “international collaboration is essential in scientific research”.
“When we combine our intellectual and financial resources a powerful synergy is formed that can surmount any number of global challenged and obstacles,” she added.
During the event, young scientists were awarded the Bergmann Memorial Award, which includes a grant given to young scientists judged on the basis of the quality of their research proposals.