It is April 2018 as I write this and spring has arrived in The Hague. The trees are starting to bud, the yellow and white daffodils are blooming and between Amsterdam and The Hague the tulip fields are colouring the flat Dutch landscape. People are waking up from winter, entering the public space again and enjoying the sunshine, just as we are at ISS, on the benches in front of our building near the water.
And we do celebrate spring. A few weeks ago we did so at the 15th anniversary of the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity. In the morning we organized a seminar at Noordeinde Palace, in the company of Her Majesty Queen Máxima and Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix. Representatives of several Dutch universities and development organizations, as well as individuals with a close link to ISS attended the seminar which included a film on the work of the five latest chairholders. The short film also included photographs of and quotes by Prince Claus on the themes of development and equity, on the importance of community involvement, on sharing knowledge and respecting cultural differences. Watching the film, I felt very strongly that his thoughts are even more relevant in today’s world than ever before, in both the global South and North.
One of the speakers at the event, the Euro commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, elaborated on how science and innovation can be the right instruments for development. And the Minister for Higher Education in South Africa, Naledi Pandor, elaborated on how science and academics develop in her country. A think-tank of Dutch youngsters reflected on how it would be possible, in 2018, to ‘rejuvenate development and equity’ by including all generations.
A panel of the five PCC chairholders and their post-doctoral research assistants then conducted a very inspiring debate on present and future needs and developments in academic research, capacity building and development. It struck me that this generation of researchers does indeed hold the future ... and, as they pointed out … they also have the present!
The last – musical – contribution was by singer Wende Snijders, who sang three songs, the last one dedicated to her late father entitled ‘Hey, are you okay?’. They were the right songs, at the right time, at the right place.
In the afternoon ISS hosted the inauguration of the new PCC chairholder: Ali Bilgiҫ presented a sharp, analytical and inspiring inaugural lecture on migration to Europe from a human security perspective. It is great that Ali will share and develop his expertise with us at ISS in the coming years.
I wish you all a good spring and summertime!