Opening speech Tuula Teeri
Esteemed Fellows of the Netherlands Academy of Engineering,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my great pleasure to address a brand new Academy of Engineering, at a time when technology and engineering are perhaps more important than ever before.
In a world with increased complexity, greater challenges, geopolitical tensions, changes in social structures and rapid technological development, knowledge and competence are becoming increasingly important.
Research and innovation are keys to competitiveness and prosperity – and require collaboration between academia, business, the public sector and politics.
In the midst of a number of major crises: economic, security policy, humanitarian and environmental, new knowledge and technology, as well as better implementation of existing knowledge, are at the centre when humanity must face them.
This is where we come to Academies of Engineering, that:
- excel in technological advancement by way of joining forces between academia, industry and the public sector.
- have been, and continue to be, key facilitators of industrial transformations, and
- support governments with science-based policy advice as impartial partners to policymakers.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, IVA, was the first academy of engineering in the world, founded in 1919, at the time of Sweden’s first major energy crisis between 1900 and 1925, in the dawn of an industrial revolution and vigorous industrialization of Sweden.
From the beginning our vision has been to promote technology at the service of humanity.
- Today, we work toward this vision with guiding principles of increased competitiveness andsustainable development,
- the two goals that must go hand in hand in the midst of the climate change seriously impacting the environment and our lives.
We perceive ourselves as a bridge builder between academia, business, the public sector and politics.
- With our analyses, projects and activities, we have been, and continue to promote the positive development of society through knowledge in technical and economic sciences.
In the spirit of joining forces withing engineering communities, a European network of engineering academies, EURO-Case, was founded in 1992 and – as of today – engages 24 engineering academies in European countries, when we welcome the Netherlands Academy of Engineering.
- The mission of Euro-CASE is to pursue, encourage and maintain excellence in the fields of engineering, applied sciences and technology, and to promote their science, art and practice for the benefit of the citizens of Europe.
- Through its member academies, Euro-CASE has access to over 6000 experts that provide impartial, independent and balanced advice on technological issues with a clear European dimension to European Institutions, national Governments, companies and organizations.
Science advise is an important outcome of the activities of academies of science and engineering, also high on the agenda of the European Commission.
- The Group of 7 Chief Scientific Advisors were appointed in 2015, and 2016 saw the foundation of SAPEA, a consortium of networks of science academies in Europe, funded by Horizon Europe.
- SAPEA’s role in the Scientific Advice Mechanism is to provide independent, high-quality reviews of timely evidence to inform the policy recommendations made by the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.
- Through these Networks of Academies, we bring together outstanding expertise, not only in natural sciences, engineering and technology, but also medical, health, agricultural and social sciences, and the humanities.
- In 2023, the Commission decided to expand the mandate of the Scientific Advice Mechanism to advising on scientific issues relevant to the policy priorities, not only of the European Parliament and Council of the EU, but also to the European Commission.
As we very well know, new technology has not always only been received with open arms, it has also created anxiety and raised questions.
- Concerns were voiced in the 40s, when physicists learned to control nuclear reactions,
- Or, when geneticists in the 70s showed, that it was possible to edit our genes, and tailor the code of life,
- and today, we are debating potential risks and threats of artificial intelligence, which is taking giant steps to our everyday lives.
These are important discussions. New knowledge breeds new technology, and in the face of any new paradigm changing technology, it is wise to weigh the benefits against potential risks.
- But if there’s anything history has taught us, it is that discoveries can’t be cancelled, what has become known can’t become unknown ever again.
- It may be that the climate change is a consequence of technology and industrialization – but it is only with technology that we can combat the challenge.
- But when moving on, it is crucial to establish frameworks and regulations to make sure that we can handle the choices and challenges that arise.
In addition to potential risks and ethical considerations, implementation of new technology is often challenged in, for example, scalability, environmental impact and energy efficiency.
- Additional factors such as standards and regulations, education and skills development, as well as limited access to raw materials affect the entire technology landscape.
- Taking the first steps toward the 5th industrial revolution, addressing these issues is critical to the competitiveness of Europe, reducing carbon emissions and achieving our sustainability goals in environmental, economic, and social
This is the domain of engineers and engineering academies, individuals and communities that see opportunities where others see problems.
Engineers who share the knowledge, capacity and will, and take responsibility for building a better world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We salute the founding of a new academy in our growing family of engineering academies in the world.
We welcome the mission of the Netherlands Academy of Engineering that, true to a long tradition of engineering academies, is founded in impactful engineering-based innovation, rooted in a world-class knowledge and talent base in technological sciences and human centric design.