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2021 Enrico Fermi Lecture by Prof. Piero Formica Focuses on Tackling Ecological & Pandemic Crisis to Sustainably Transform our Societies


On Monday, 26th of April 2021, The Cyprus Institute co-organized with the Embassy of Italy in Cyprus the online Lecture and Panel Discussion entitled “Nature’s Voice: Switching From Quantity to Quality in the Post-Pandemic Society”, as part of the Enrico Fermi Lecture Series. The event also aimed at celebrating the “Italian Research Day in the World”. The webinar was addressed by H.E. Dr Andrea Cavallari, Ambassador of Italy in Cyprus, and Prof. George Christophides, President of The Cyprus Institute. The lecture was introduced by Fabio Maria Montagnino, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The Cyprus Institute. Nicolas Jarraud, Assistant Vice President for Institute Affairs, welcomed the speakers and the attendees, highlighting the fruitful and long-term collaboration with the Italian Embassy.

The webinar focused on the ecological crisis and the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 pandemic on our societies, which brought into a new light the way we are managing the environment and our social and economic landscape. Science and industry are leading players in connecting the natural and the human world, and this lecture explored new approaches where researchers and innovators can inspire themselves from Nature, while exploring new models of development by switching from the dominant quantitative to the needed qualitative paradigm. Prof. Formica highlighted how we can redesign our communities to be more empathetic and sustainable, as well as the way we can mitigate the dramatic and long-lasting impact of the climate and pandemic crisis, as well as lessons learned from the past.

The second part of the webinar followed by a Q&A session, and a panel discussion about the engagement of Italian researchers and innovators towards an “economy of quality” in Cyprus. The panellists included the Biomimicry practitioner and Environmental Engineer, Alessandro Bianciardi; the Head of the Sustainable Built Environment Group at CyI, Salvatore Carlucci; Valentina Vassallo from the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center (STARC) of The Cyprus Institute; as well as Theodoros Zachariadis, a manager of SDSN Europe, and CyI expert in techno-economic analysis of energy, environmental and transport policies, and environmental taxation. The moderator of the panel discussion was the Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at The Cyprus Institute, Fabio Maria Montagnino.

The “Enrico Fermi Lectures” are a series of talks co-organised by The Cyprus Institute and the Embassy of Italy in Nicosia with the aim of bringing to Cyprus leading Italian scientists to speak about cutting-edge scientific developments, thus contributing to the scientific and technological cooperation between Italy and Cyprus - a testimony to the long historical and cultural ties between the two countries. Since 2017, this series of prestigious talks has brought to Cypriot audiences the work of eminent Italian scientists, such as Prof. Massimo Inguscio (President of CNR), Prof. Ettore Fiorini (Emeritus Professor at the University di Milano-Bicocca and National Member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei), Prof. Antonio Sgamellotti (Università di Perugia, Accademia dei Lincei), and Prof. Federico M. Butera (Professor Emeritus at Politecnico di Milano).

This latest Enrico Fermi Lecture was delivered by Prof. Piero Formica, a Senior Research Fellow at the Innovation Value Institute in the Maynooth University in Ireland, and Professor and Mentor in the Contamination Lab of the University of Padua in Italy. Prof. Formica noted that “those who set their imagination in motion, use their beginner’s mind and find themselves confronted with a wide range of fresh possibilities. On the contrary, “experts” sunk in their well of knowledge”.

Concluding his lecture, Prof. Formica stated that all we need is re-imagination. “We need to reform the existing, not by doing it better, but do it different! We need to come back to the future. We need economists who are social philosophers, otherwise we will be stuck with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)-centric model, focussing on quantity instead of quality, which means we will bring destruction and generate a big tragedy for our nations”, he said.

The Italian Research Day in the World is celebrated every year on April 15th, the anniversary of the birth of Leonardo da Vinci. Established by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, this initiative aims to raise awareness on and give visibility to the activity of Italian researchers and academics who live and work abroad. Science and research are strategic components of Italy's outward projection and diplomacy. Once again, the Embassy of Italy in Nicosia has decided to join forces with The Cyprus Institute in order to highlight the Italian researchers’ work and contribution in the various sectors of cultural heritage, innovation, sustainability, energy and environment.

The Cyprus Institute counts over 200 collaborations and partnerships with prominent Italian research institutions and is home to a large community of Italian researchers and students, contributing to its diverse fields of activity. Among them are the moderator and two of the panellists of this year’s Enrico Fermi Lecture: Fabio Montagnino, Salvatore Carlucci and Valentina Vassallo. For more information on the Italian Research Day in the World, visit: Italian Research Day in the World – 15 April 2021 (



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