I wish to express my best greetings to all members of Academia Europaea, hoping that 2022 will be a year of increased normality, allowing many of us to meet and interact in more personal ways, Hub Director Eystein Jansen writes in this Christmas greeting.
Another year has almost come to an end, with a new year approaching, yet again influenced by the pandemic. While a few months back, there was hope for the vaccination effort to gradually lead to normalization and protection of our health and health services, it is now clear that many countries again need to restrict social interaction and mobility.
This is due to the combined effects of severely mutated and more contagious variants of the virus and lack of willingness to be vaccinated in parts of the population in some countries. The uneven global distribution of vaccines to the global south leaves the majority of the global population unvaccinated, thus providing perfect conditions for new mutations of the virus. This development was forecasted by scientists with expertise in the field. Among the lessons learned during the pandemic is the importance of basic research (which gave us vaccines), the key role of a just global distribution of vaccines and the importance of sharing scientific knowledge. These aspects are also at the heart of the mission of Academia Europaea and the Bergen Hub.
A very productive year for the hub
Despite constraints due to covid restrictions, 2021 has been a very productive year for the hub, reflected on our website. Amongst our activities we are especially proud of having produced a short film about Academia Europaea, the Bergen Hub and SAPEA. Academia Europaea has entered into a new contract with the University of Bergen providing a 4-year prolongation of the University hosting our Hub, thereby securing support for our Hub in the coming years. We have produced a new strategy plan for the Hub approved by our Steering group and our Nordic/Baltic advisory board. The Hub has organised and been partner to several events, mainly online, but also some physical meetings when the pandemic allowed for this.
To highlight some of our activities: We have organized a side event of the Arctic Frontiers conference on sustainable transport in the Arctic, we took active part in the Rosendal-week, a regional meeting place for industry, politics, and researchers on the green transition, and we have co-organised an online gathering of polar researchers in Norway and Estonia in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Sciences and the Norwegian Embassy in Tallin. We have also participated actively in dissemination activities for the SAPEA-report on Energy Transition in Europe and Plastic pollution in the ocean. Our Hub was also responsible for technical and administrative support of the (online) annual class meetings for the AE classes A1 and A2.
Our network has been extended by an agreement to co-organise seminars with the local branch of the Norwegian Academy for Technological sciences, and a meeting place for interactions between the various science academies in Norway has been established. We are very keen to arrange similar meeting points with Academies in the Nordic and Baltic countries in the future. We have expanded the Hub’s activities in Science Advice by becoming a partner in the new SAPEA project under Horizon Europe, seeking a more active role under the leadership of the Cardiff Hub, in organising activities and contributions to the production of evidence reports for the Science Advice Mechanism of the European Commission.
In 2021 Academia Europaea has established a Task Force to provide plans for extending its visibility in the areas of Environment, climate and sustainability under the leadership of Professor Verena Winiwarter from Vienna. The Bergen Hub organises this activity on behalf of Academia Europaea. This will be an important tool to better align Academia Europaea with some of the most pressing global challenges. As a member of the Task Force, I hope that we can engage a high number of eminent scholars from our membership to take part in future activities. I would encourage all members with expertise and engagement to respond to the ongoing member survey (deadline January 14th). The outcome of the survey will give us a much-needed knowledge base to build upon in this important work.
With this wish I will express my best greetings to all members of Academia Europaea, hoping that 2022 will be a year of increased normality, allowing many of us to meet and interact in more personal ways.
Academic Director Bergen Knowledge Hub