Picking up the p(e)ace

Manila Bulletin, November 20, 2007

A bridge is primarily built to connect two lands that are separated by a depression. However, its simple use has a big impact in connecting people. The linkage built between does not only give connection for travel but it also builds good relationships between the people through interactive communication supported by its strong foundation.

This same idea is what the International Peace Foundation (IPF) use in the linking different ideas in all fields, through their “Bridges-Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” event series. Through lectures, workshops, seminars and artistic events from various topics by distinguished speakers, the event series will tackle the most important social issues.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo officially launched this 1st ASEAN wide event series at the Malacanang Palace. The event series started this month and will be held continuously in the Philippines and Thailand until April of next year. The speakers of this event series are Nobel Laureates from different fields like Economics, Peace, Physics, Chemistry and Medicine.

The Program was initiated and facilitated by Vienna-based IPF under the mutual patronage of 21 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Bridges has been established as an international, intercultural and interdisciplinary platform for creative cultures of learning and continued education for all people.

The aim of the event series is to facilitate and strengthen dialogue and communication between societies in Southeast Asia with their multiple cultures and faiths as well as with people in other parts of the world to promote understanding and trust. It aims at building bridges through Nobel Laureates with local Universities and other institutions and to establish long-term relationships which may result in common research programs and other forms of collaboration.
By enhancing science, technology and education as a basis for peace and development the events may lead to a better cooperation for the advancement of peace, freedom and security in the region with the active involvement of the young generation, ASEAN’s key to the future.

“Most of the Nobel Laureates have never been here before. So we want to bring them here to connect with the people. We want to lift the views of the people so may see how they can be of use in the future”, says IPF Founding Chairman Uwe Morawetz.

“We hope that the Nobel Laureates come back in a regular basis, to establish more relationships with institutions, Universities, research organizations so that a collaboration will be established here in the Philippines,” he adds.

The event series is facilitated by IPF in cooperation with various national and international partners including Angeles University, the Asian Institute of Management, Ateneo de Davao and de Manila Universities, De La Salle University, the Department of Science and Technology, Mapua Institute of Technology, the University of San Carlos, the University of Santo Tomas and the University of the Philippines, UNESCO is also part of the program, which will be held as an independent contribution to the United Nations’ Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.

“This is a tremendous catalyst for unity and for sharing of global ideas. IPF did a wonderful job in linking academic institutions across the Philippines,” Bridges Philippines Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala relates.

“The government has a strong interest in welcoming this initiative. This invitation is a way engaging both sectors of the civil society, the academic, the government and the private sector,” he adds.

The 1st ASEAN wide series of “Bridges” follow the successful series IPF has hosted in Thailand between November 2003 and April 2005, 26 Nobel Laureates as well as 12 other keynote speakers and artists reached an audience of 70,000 participants.

The program was then invited by other ASEAN countries and from its successful run in Thailand IPF is continuing its efforts in the Philippines. The topics of the events will deal with the overall theme of “building a culture of peace and development in a globalized world” and with a wide range of issues in the fields of politics, economy, science, culture and the media. They will especially highlight the challenges of both globalization and regionalism and its impact on development and international cooperation.

Just recently this month, Professor Robert Alexander Mundell, concluded his event series held at the De La Salle University in cooperation with Mapua Institute of Technology and also in Ateneo de Davao University. This 1999 Nobel Laureate for Economics at Columbia University in New York did his lecture on “Economic development by fitting globalization into the national development strategy” and on “Remaking the international exchange rate system:The optimum currency area approach to a global currency”.

The next part of the series will be held next year starting January with Nobel Laureate for Physics (2204) Prof. David Jonathan Gross, who will speak on “The coming revolutions in fundamental physics”. On February, Nobel Laureate for Economics (2004) Prof. Finn E. Kydland, will speak on “Peace and economic development in the age of globalization”. On March the Chairman of the Citigroup International Advisory Board and the former president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn will speak on “Beyond East-West, North-South – Peace and prosperity in a four speed world”. Also in March, Nobel Laureate for Medicine (1975) Prof. David Baltimore will speak on “The role of science in fostering global health and development” and on “Gene therapy as a mode of treating cancer and AIDS”. On April, Nobel Laureate for Chemistry (2001) Prof. Aaron Ciechanover will speak on “Life and death – Why our proteins have to die so we shall live” and the President of Tmor-Leste and Nobel Prize awardee (1996) Prof. Jose Ramos-Horta will speak on “Building a culture of peace and development in a globalized world”.

The program is not designed as a onetime event, but as a continuing process of synergies to make the series of events a sustainable success for the Philippines, for Thailand and for Southeast Asia a whole. All “Bridges” events are open and free of charge for the general public. The detailed schedule of events including information about venues and free tickets can be obtained from the website www.peace-foundation.net