Ladies and gentlemen,
The former German chancellor Willy Brandt once said: “foreign policy is too important to be left to governments alone.” What he meant was: We will only be able to master the global challenges we are facing, if we make use the enormous commitment and expertise of civil society: NGOs, artists, activists, and: scientists.
In the Corona pandemic we have once again seen the potential of scientific cooperation. Vaccines have been developed in record time. Why? Because scientists from around the world have worked together. Likewise, international cooperation and scientific exchange will be the only way to master challenges such as climate change.
Therefore, science diplomacy has become a pillar stone of our foreign policy. We have stepped up our efforts to defend freedom of science. And we are fostering networks and scientific hubs around the world.
The transformation of DAAD’s Information Center, founded in 2012, into a fully-fledged Regional Office is part of this effort.
The bilateral relations between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Federal Republic of Germany have a longstanding tradition, especially in the field of cultural cooperation and science.
In 2015 the German Jordanian University opened its doors. Since then, it has become a flagship programme of our partnership. With over 30 degree programs it offers a unique education opportunity to its over 4.500 students.
Regional programs such as the “Ta’ziz partnership for democracy” and the “Higher education dialogue”, which are funded by the Federal Foreign Office, have given a boost to academic exchange.
And also our cooperation on cultural preservation becomes closer and closer.
Therefore, the establishment of a regional office of the DAAD in Jordan was a logical step. And also its scope was very deliberate: It includes the wider region including Lebanon, Iraq as well as the United Arab Emirates.
For us, it was important that the office not only contributes to strengthening the ties between Germany and the region. It is also meant to foster higher education cooperation within the region.
This is not just a play on words. This is a completely different approach. What it means becomes apparent, if we look at a concrete example:
At the moment, the “Regional Centre for Sustainable Adaptation to Global Change in the Middle East” is being established at the University of Jordan. It has been initiated by a consortium under the lead of Tübingen University with many partners in the region. It carries out research on the interconnection of land use, water scarcity, biodiversity and climate change in the Jordan River Basin. It will serve as a regional hub for training young scientists. It will contribute to a more effective resource management. And it will promote the dialogue between researchers and stakeholders in politics and civil society.
For me, this is a perfect example of what science diplomacy means: building networks; bringing science, politics and civil society together; and solving common challenges through cooperation beyond borders.
Ladies and gentlemen
More than 300 million years ago, there was a single continent on the earth: Pangaea. Globalization is currently creating a new Pangaea. What happens in one part of the world, directly affects the other part. This brings along responsibility for all of us: It is our joint planet, and there is only one of it. International scientific cooperation has a key importance, if we want to protect it.
The DAAD Regional Office in Jordan will play its part in that effort. My best wishes go all the many people involved in this project. I wish the new director of the Office, Benjamin Schmäling, and his team all the best for their work. And I wish you all a good and inspiring conference today.
The video of the speech can be watsched here: