Stepping up scientific cooperation in Portugal

  • 20 Oct. 2014 -
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  • Last updated: 29 Oct. 2014 11:59

More than 200 experts gathered at a NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Information Day on 20 October in Lisbon, Portugal. The event aimed to raise awareness of the SPS Programme and provided a platform to examine opportunities for collaborative security projects in NATO and partner countries.

Participants also discussed ideas for potential new SPS activities in the fields of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) resilience, cyber defence and advanced technologies with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Delegates included high-level officials from Portuguese ministries and the scientific community as well as representatives from partner countries and research and post-doctorate students from Portuguese universities. It was the first time that countries participating in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue attended such an event in a NATO country.

Supporting Alliance objectives

At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, the NATO Strategic Concept defined cooperative security as one of the three core tasks of the Alliance. Today, NATO works closely together with its wide network of partners on a number of issues, including on scientific cooperation through the SPS Programme.

The SPS Programme is all about cooperative security,” Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges Ambassador Sorin Ducaru remarked. “Therefore, the Programme has a direct link to NATO’s Strategic Concept.” Last year alone, more than 50 activities with partner countries were initiated through the SPS Programme.

Portugal is participating in a recently approved SPS project that aims to develop ‘smart textiles’: clothes and uniforms that will be able to decompose chemical and biological threat agents. Led by scientists from Egypt, France, Portugal and Tunisia, the project will apply the latest developments in nanotechnology to security concerns of today.

Portugal is a strong believer in the potential of NATO’s scientific programme,” said Ambassador João Mira Gomes, Permanent Representative of Portugal to NATO. “The value of the SPS Programme does not exclusively lie in its scientific contributions but also in its value for and application in security,” he added.

Dr Deniz Beten, Senior SPS and Partnership Cooperation Advisor, underlined that in addition to their practical impact and support for NATO’s strategic objectives, many SPS activities open opportunities for regional cooperation. They also contribute to building transnational scientific communities among experts from NATO and partner countries. Khadija Bendam from the Centre National de l’Energie des Sciences et Techniques Nucléaires in Morocco said, “the SPS Information Day was a great opportunity for me to network with colleagues from Algeria, Portugal and Tunisia.”

Building cooperation opportunities

In the margins of the SPS Information Day, Ambassador Ducaru discussed opportunities for further scientific cooperation with Dr Pedro Cabrita Carneiro, Vice-President of the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)). He also met with the Chief of the Naval Staff and National Maritime Authority, Admiral Luis Fragoso.

While in Lisbon, the NATO SPS Independent Scientific Evaluation Group (ISEG) also convened. Composed of around 30 experts and reputed scientists from NATO countries, the main role of the ISEG is to evaluate and comment on SPS grant applications. During their two-day meeting the group reviewed a total of 36 proposals for new SPS activities that address emerging security challenges, aim to develop security-related advanced technologies or that will increase preparedness for crisis situations.

The SPS Information Day was organised by the SPS Programme in close cooperation with the Delegation of Portugal to NATO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, and the FCT, and with the support of the Instituto Superior Técnico at the University of Lisbon.

Presentations made at the Information Day can be downloaded from the column on the right.