This century is characterised by accelerated changes and unprecedented global challenges: climate change, water, energy and food security, migration crisis and biodiversity loss among others. These challenges are in one way or another related to the defining issue of our time: how to decouple economic growth from social and environmental degradation.
In a globalised and interconnected world, decision-making increasingly requires a good understanding of diverse aspects in very complex settings. Many of the issues tend to be cross-sectoral, cross-disciplinary, and global. A good example is climate change.
In this rapidly evolving and complex environment the role of science becomes more important than ever. Not only to foster innovation but to ensure the knowledge base for wise and effective policies, business decisions and citizens’ participation in the hyper-connected democracies of the 21st century.
In this respect, we are facing a paradox. Never before in human history have there been so many scientists and so much scientific knowledge available. We have the means to understand many of the challenges we are facing, yet we need to admit that post truth politics as well as contradictory media and science messages are also abound.
Therefore, science needs to partner with media to have impact - and together put emphasis on the synthesis and contextualisation of information, bringing together scientists and media experts from different disciplines and building appropriate national to international science-policy interfaces. In addition, the right fora, timing, and formats are of crucial importance when communicating scientific information.
In this context, the European Forest Institute (EFI) is continuously developing its operations and structures to be an effective pan-European science-policy-media platform.
We also want to emphasize that the 21st Century is also an era of opportunities. Many scientists call it the century of biology. This is because advances in bioscience, biotechnology and bio-infrastructures offer great opportunities in many areas, especially in helping to transform our existing fossil-based economy into a low-carbon one – a knowledge-intensive, sustainable and bio-based bioeconomy.
European forests can help address threats like climate change or biodiversity loss, and provide renewable resources. Such multifunctional role will become increasingly important in the coming decades, in a context of growing competition for land and natural resources resulting from an escalating global population.
Let me finish my intervention with a quote by Albert Einstein: