Grand opening of EuroScience Open Forum 2020 Trieste

Grand opening of EuroScience Open Forum 2020 Trieste

Welcome addresses were inspired by values such as knowledge and the sharing of know-how. Among the high-level participants were Cardinal Parolin, Minister Manfredi and Fabiola Gianotti.

Trieste, 2 September 2020

“Science cannot exempt itself from being a protagonist in everything is happening. Don’t be afraid of knowledge. We must not be afraid of knowledge especially in times of crisis, because it is precisely in these moments that we grasp the profound value, constitutive of modernity, of an approach to reality based on trust in the ability of human beings to investigate and know the world.”  This welcome address was from Stefano Fantoni, ESOF2020 Champion, who spoke at the official kick-off to EuroScience Open Forum during the Opening Ceremony. The ceremony, at the Auditorium of the new Trieste Convention Centre, closed a few minutes ago. ESOF2020 celebrates Trieste, the European City of Science, and will run from today until 6 September in the Old Port area. “At the same time,” Fantoni added, “we should all be aware of the fact that scientific research does not solve all problems; it is not a handbook of certainties but rather opens us to doubt and complexity, to the uncertainty of the new, to the risk of the dream. Don't be afraid of the new. Knowledge, and not ignorance, can lead to more freedom, more awareness, more democracy."


ESOF2020 was scheduled for July this year, but the COVID-19 crisis delayed the biggest European event on the relationship among science, innovation and society by two months. This pandemic has radically changed the format and content of the five-day event by forcing the organisers to adopt a hybrid mode, in-person and online. “I am extremely pleased to see ESOF2020 now opening in an innovative hybrid format, prepared in record time to allow for maximum participation” commented Michael Matlosz, President of EuroScience. “Active communication and exchange at the interface of science and society are essential, and ESOF 2020 offers an ideal opportunity to develop the constructive and inclusive dialog required to address collectively the challenges of the current global crisis.”


Opening speech about science and faith

Despite the changes, an important characteristic of the EuroScience Open Forum -- the multidisciplinary approach -- has remained intact. Not surprisingly then, the opening speech was given by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness with a talk on the relationship between humanity, environment and technology: “In dialogue with the sciences, we are very attentive to scientists and researchers, especially when they speak in defense of the dignity of the human person, of global justice and of care for our common home. These three things are essential for envisioning and achieving a future of peaceful coexistence among people.” With an explicit reference to Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Sì, focused on ecology, His Eminence continued by stating that “if we want to survive, and if we want life on this Planet to survive, then we will have to learn to assume responsibility for our common home on the global level.”

“The challenge that we are living” he concluded on this topic “demands an integrated body of knowledge that can move the minds and hearts of human beings and concretely change their lifestyles.”

Talking about technological innovation and digitalization, he expressed his deep worry about the effect of communication and society on young generations for what could be a true anthropological transformation: “The effects of the media diet to which all of us are exposed also change the trust that our contemporaries place in the news they receive.  Traditional sources of authority appear no longer to be considered automatically valid. We are also witnessing the spread of new beliefs and opinions unsupported by objective scientific data. It strikes me that this was particularly apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic. Much harm was caused by incorrect scientific information” His Eminence stated.


Towards a new research culture

A reflection on the need for a new research culture, due to the pandemic, was at the centre of scientific conversations at the event. Gaetano Manfredi, Minister of University and Research, said that "one of the great challenges of the Country, which has become even more evident today after the pandemic, concerns the need to work on the scientific awareness of citizens. A technological society evolves rapidly, and it is necessary to put in place all possible resources to train citizens with a greater scientific culture, who know not only how to use modern technologies but also better understand their potential. Having citizens who are passionate about the progress of science and who appreciate the social role of research helps the Country be more competitive internationally. As a Ministry we will strive to ensure that researchers work not only in laboratories but also in society, to make people understand how important and beneficial it is for the good of the country to stimulate a greater culture of research.”

Fabiola Gianotti, physicist and CERN Director-General, emphasized that “Science is more than knowledge, it is a value system, and can play a key role in helping humanity overcome the societal and planetary challenges we face. I believe ESOF provides an excellent platform to nurture the  dialogue between research institutions, academia, governments and the public, and to promote the crucial importance of science for society.”

Finally, Ilaria Capua, virologist and professor at the University of Florida, connected remotely to say that “the 2020 pandemic reminded us that we are all -- humans, animals, plants and the environment -- part of the same circular ecosystem. We are immersed in different contexts on the same Planet and our health depends on its health. We humans have the ability to understand the mechanisms that regulate the balance of nature and, consequently, we must be its guardians. Research today must aim for the convergence of the health of multiple systems with an open, transparent and circular approach.”


The role of the institutions

The vision of ESOF2020 Trieste was realized thanks to funding from the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, and thanks to the contribution and support of the Ministry of University and Research (MUR), the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, and the city of Trieste.

Mayor Roberto Dipiazza said: "The city of Trieste has been supportive of this challenge since the beginning, and is one of the major and most convinced supporters of the ESOF2020 event which opens today and which brings Trieste to the center of international scientific debate, at a time when the scientific world is more committed than ever with the battle against COVID-19. Our city, which I am honoured to administrate, already has a proud heritage as a centre of the national scientific network, and the role of European Science Capital confirms this prerogative of ours. Trieste, city of the insurance companies Generali and Allianz, of Fincantieri, of important entrepreneurial endeavours on an international scale such as Illy caffè, as well as the first commercial port of the country, thanks also to this scientific event continues to strengthen its role as a capital of science in Europe."

“The 2020 edition is also the first major international event after the pandemic,” underlined FVG Region President Massimiliano Fedriga. "It is an occasion that reinforces the feeling of joy and welcome with which Trieste and Friuli Venezia Giulia host the event, but it’s also a tangible sign of a territory that acts together with the scientific community to generate new opportunities for relaunching.”

The International perspective

The ceremony was also attended by: Fabrizio Nicoletti, Director General of Innovation and Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, remotely, Sanja Damjanovic, Minister of Science of Montenegro and Emmanuel Nzimande, Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa.

The ceremony concluded with the presentation of a commemorative stamp dedicated to ESOF2020, presented by Giulio Iandiorio of the Italian Post Office.

What is ESOF

The EuroScience Open Forum is the most relevant European event focused on the intersection between science, technology, society and politics. Created in 2004 by the nonprofit association EuroScience, the biennial forum offers a unique opportunity for interaction and debate between scientists, innovators, politicians, entrepreneurs, communications operators, and citizens. Trieste has been named the European City of Science 2020 and is hosting the ninth edition of ESOF.

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Map of Magazzini 27 and 28:

To attend the event, registration is required at:

Press contacts

Nico Pitrelli

Cell. +39 339 1337950

Chiara Saviane

Cell. +39 333 7675962


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