Science and Technology Conference 2017 - Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Science and Technology Conference 2017 - Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

The sixth edition of the CTBTO Science and Technology Conference took place from 26 to 30 June 2017 at Hofburg Palace, Vienna. The glamorous past of Vienna’s Hofburg Palace blended with the most advanced technology displayed by the CTBTO. The Conference attracted more than a thousand registered participants from over 120 countries, 650 submitted abstracts, nearly 400 posters and over 100 oral presentations, making it the largest of its kind to date. Taking advantage of the presence of scientists and leaders of numerous countries, participants engaged in a lively exchange of knowledge and ideas across scientific disciplines. Such interaction helps ensure that the Treaty’s global verification regime remains at the forefront of scientific and technical innovation.

The high-level opening session on Tuesday included keynote speeches by the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo (speech PDF), Princess Sumaya of Jordan (speech PDF), the Minister of Science and Technology of Angola (speech PDF), Maria Candida Pereira Teixeira, and other high-ranking representatives from France and Austria.

“By any measure, the CTBT’s science-based verification regime is an enormous success. The performance of the International Monitoring System already exceeds all expectations at 92 % completion”CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo.

During her welcoming remarks, the Director of the International Monitoring System Division, Nürcan Meral Özel encouraged young scientists to take advantage of using IMS data. She also moderated a  session on “The International Monitoring System: Challenges from installation through certification to sustainment of this unique global network” that featured an all-female panel. Director of the International Data Centre (IDC) Randy Bell expressed his belief that the Conference strengthens the widely shared hopes and aspirations for the entry into force of the Treaty and ultimately for a world free of nuclear explosions.

“CTBTO ensures that innovation is deployed for verification and monitoring so that we all feel more secure.”Princess Sumaya of Jordan

For the first time, the Conference included an important youth element with more than  70 CTBTO Youth Group members from over 50 countries are attending the conference in Vienna. In his welcoming remarks, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo addressed the young participants and highlighted the importance of the young generation in promoting the entry into force of the CTBT. Youth participants presented their own papers and outreach projects, participated in workshops and discussions, and tried their hands at “citizen journalism” in the “Youth Newsroom project.

“Your generation, you are not called the Leaders of tomorrow but the Leaders of today. The young generation leads the world on social media, and we have to be with you, share our vision with you and then take the fresh energy that you bring so that we can move together and achieve the goal that we set for ourselves and for the future generation”, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo.

Zerbo also emphasized the role of women as a powerful voice in the global scientific community for ending nuclear testing. Inspired by one of the keynote speakers from SnT2015, South African Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor who pointed out the lack of women in the hall, this year’s Conference featured several keynotes by  women, as well as more female scientists on panels and as presenters. Read a personal view on the topic of gender and non-proliferation by CTBTO Youth Group member Sarah Bidgood here.

A number of prizes were awarded, including: awards for best oral presentation, best poster, best presentation by a young scientist, and the European Union Star award. Interactive displays and exhibits were on show throughout the Conference. Participants had the opportunity to navigate  an interactive globe which visualizes the International Monitoring System (IMS), to visit an exhibit on the installation of the last hydroacoustic station of the IMS at one of the most remote places on earth, to experience a 15 min Virtual Reality journey, and to get a hands-on experience at an On-Site inspection tent with some of the equipment that CTBTO experts use.

“CTBTO made the extraordinary, ordinary and demonstrated to the world that it is indeed possible to build a robust and reliable global monitoring and verification surveillance system that has also life-saving application that goes beyond its original intent,”Des Browne, Vice Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and former UK Defence Secretary and member of the CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons (GEM).