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The FDFA supports dialogue between science and diplomacy

Press release, 19.03.2019

The coral reefs of the Gulf of Aqaba were the focus of an international conference held on Tuesday in Bern on the theme of dialogue between science and diplomacy. The head of the FDFA, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, announced Switzerland's support for an EPFL project to establish a transnational Red Sea research centre.

Underwater photograph of numerous orange fish swimming around the coral reef in the Gulf of Aqaba.
The coral reefs of the Gulf of Aqaba are the focus of an international conference on the theme of dialogue between science and diplomacy. © EPFL/Guilhem Banc-Prandi

A study published in 2017 by researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) showed that corals in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea are more resistant to rising water temperatures than corals anywhere else in the world. This discovery has the potential to help restock coral reefs in other parts of the world which are more vulnerable to the effects of global warming. 

Against this backdrop and in order to facilitate collaboration among the region's scientific communities, the EPFL has decided to set up a regional research facility, the Transnational Red Sea Centre. 

Addressing the conference, Federal Councillor Cassis explained the reasons that motivate the FDFA to support projects that provide opportunities for dialogue between scientists and policymakers. As an innovative country with a large scientific community, Switzerland has the resources and credibility to facilitate and promote dialogue in the Red Sea region, which remains a politically and culturally fragile part of the world.

Mr Cassis stressed that this kind of project is in line with the Federal Council's decision to create, together with the canton and city of Geneva, the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator foundation. This foundation aims to provide the international community with an innovative and flexible vehicle that will spur international organisations into swift action to address the challenges of multilateral diplomacy in the 21st century. Meeting the challenges brought about by these developments, identifying governance needs and proposing solutions requires innovative partnerships among a variety of stakeholders across national borders.

At the conference in Bern, EPFL president Martin Vetterli explained the importance of the project for the Red Sea region: "For me personally, there is nothing more inspiring than working for an institution like ours, which, as we mark the EPFL's 50th anniversary, is making a clear commitment to the future of our planet."

Further information:

Speech by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis
Coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba may survive global warming (EPFL News)
Aqaba corals: EPFL press kit

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Information
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Twitter: @SwissMFA


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