Address by Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO
on the occasion of the designation of Her Royal Highness Princess
Sumaya bint El Hassan as a UNESCO Special Envoy for Science for Peace
UNESCO, 2 October 2017
Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, President of the Royal
Scientific Society of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,
Excellency Makram M. Queisi, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to UNESCO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am deeply honoured to welcome you to UNESCO on this very special occasion, the
designation of Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan as UNESCO
Special Envoy for Science for Peace.
I wish to start by saying how grateful I am to Her Royal Highness for her lifelong
commitment to promoting science for sustainability in her country and across the
Jordan has always played a special role here.
Just last May, I was in Amman for the opening of SESAME — the Synchrotron-light
for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East — in the presence of
His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, Her Royal Highness, Excellency Mr Hani
Moulki, Prime Minister of Jordan, and Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, President of
DG/2017/150 – Page 2
The opening of SESAME shows that… every once in a while… dreams can come
Initiated some 20 years ago, this world-class research laboratory is a leap forward
for scientific research in the region.
It is a leap forward for science diplomacy, building bridges between neighbours with
their share of differences, who have decided to unite for science.
Centres like SESAME in the Middle East, or CERN in Europe, launched also by
UNESCO 60 years ago, remind us that cooperation exists, it is alive and bears fruit –
– and I wish to take this opportunity to thank Her Royal Highness for her support to
This idea stands at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate, and it is essential today, at a
time when all societies are seeking new sources of innovation and dynamism to take
forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate
I see these as the most ambitious agenda ever-agreed for inclusive human
development, to leave no one behind.
Science is essential to take this forward.
Not just any science.
Science that is deeply connected to society and integrated with policy … science that
reaches across boundary lines… science that is inclusive
Science, technology and innovation are at the heart of the new global agenda,
because they are vital for the creation of knowledge, vital for the sustainability of
oceans, vital for water management, vital for inclusive economic growth.
Development will not be sustainable without science.
Progress has no meaning if it only benefits the few… if it doesn’t eliminate poverty,
reduce inequalities, protect the world we live in.
DG/2017/150 – Page 3
The world needs over 1 million additional researchers by 2030.
Today more than ever, we need more science and we need more scientists –
especially women scientists.
This requires will and commitment — this calls for leaders who are passionate and
I think we all agree, these qualities are perfectly reflected by Her Royal Highness.
In the speech Her Royal Highness gave last year to UNESCO’s World Academy of
Sciences, you were very clear:
“Our nation, our region are sorely in need of science at all levels as we face current
and growing challenges to security, environment and development.”
Her Royal Highness has taken forward this commitment through concrete action in
her country and across the region, to support talented young women and men, to
stimulate the basic sciences, to advance science diplomacy.
We see this through the Royal Scientific Society of the Hashemite Kingdom of
We see this embodied in the Princess Sumaya University for Technology, in the El
Hassan Science City, in the Science for Diplomacy and the Think Tank Global
We will see this in the World Science Forum that will be held in Jordan from 7-11
November, coinciding with World Science Day for Peace and Development on 10
November — I wish to thank Her Royal Highness for her outstanding leadership as
Chair of the World Science Forum 2017, which I look forward to attending.
As you may know, the “S” in our acronym was a latecomer to UNESCO’s mandate,
introduced during the Organization’s constituent conference in London in November
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Since then, science has taken a place at the heart of UNESCO’s work to craft new
forms of global cooperation for peace and development.
Today, in turbulent times, when all societies are transforming and the planet is under
pressure, I believe our vision has never been so important.
Science flourishes through dialogue, through the interaction of peoples and cultures,
through the meeting of minds.
It prospers in a soil that is rich in diversity, in a climate that favours exchange.
In this spirit, I can hardly think of a stronger advocate for the values and ideals we
share than Her Royal Highness, and I thank her in advance for sharing her passion,
energy and talent with the Organisation.
Her Royal Highness,
In recognition of your dedication and achievements towards our common goals, I
thank you for the honour to accept becoming UNESCO Special Envoy for Science
[Reading of diploma]
I wish you every success in your new mission and thank you for joining forces with UNESCO
Address by Irina Bokova,