In the face of the global financial crisis' enormous impact, the goal of TWAS will remain unchanged. As in the past, the Academy will seek "to nurture a world where good science is done in all countries and where the fruits of scientific research create a more peaceful and prosperous community of nations."
That was the message that Jacob Palis, president of TWAS, delivered at the opening of the Academy's 22nd General Assembly held in Trieste, Italy, on 21 November.
Other speakers at the opening session included Alessandro Giachetti, Prefettura di Trieste; Roberto Cosolini, Mayor of Trieste; Immacolata Pannone, representative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Engelbert Ruoss, director of UNESCO's Venice Office; and Fernando Quevedo, director of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste. More than 250 scientists from 40 countries attended the event.
"The financial crisis, which struck three years ago, began to exert the full measure of its impact in 2011," Palis observed.
"Developed countries, as a result, now find themselves in the most difficult economic circumstances they have experienced in more than half of century." Austerity measures to deal with the crisis have become more austere as Europe and the United States seek to get their financial houses in order.
At the same time, emerging economies - most notably, Brazil, China and India, among others - "have weathered the financial storm better than their wealthier counterparts."
Palis went on to say that "economies continue to grow, their investments in science and technology continue to rise, and their trend lines in poverty reduction and wealth creation will likely continue to move in a positive direction."
All of these positive trends, he noted, "are taking place despite the headwinds created by the global financial crisis - headwinds that have seemed to become stronger rather than weaker last year."
Organizations like TWAS have no desire to see the world "turned upside down." The goal of the Academy, Palis asserted, "has been - and will continue to be - dedicated creating greater equity and balance across the globe."
"TWAS will seek to nurture a world where good science is done in all countries and where the fruits of scientific research foster a more peaceful and prosperous community of nations."
The current financial crisis has made this goal more important than ever, he added. "The need for South-South cooperation in science remains paramount as a large number of developing countries continues to lag behind in scientific capacity." At the same time, the growing scientific capacity of countries like Brazil, China and India, however, "make it more likely that such cooperation can become more expansive and fruitful in the years ahead."
Similarly, Palis noted, "the need for South-North cooperation in science has never been more important." That is the case, he observed, whether the issue is promoting innovative solutions for science-based economic growth and jobs creation, or devising science-related solutions to our most pressing environmental problems."
"The difficulties the world now confronts," Palis concluded, "require international scientific cooperation that transcends country borders and geographic regions."
Palis maintained that the Academy would work hard to navigate the rapidly changing world in which we live but that it would do so with its goals firmly set on helping to create good science in all countries for the ultimate purpose of benefitting society."
The TWAS 22nd General Meeting will continue through Wednesday. The event will include lectures from pre-eminent scientists from around the world and presentations by promising young scientists from developing countries.