The ceremony of the 12th and 13th editions of the Frontiers of Knowledge Awards, which took place on September 21 at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, highlighted the value of science and culture in tackling the great global challenges facing humanity beyond the pandemic, such as the environmental emergency, the profound technological transformation and the risk of new economic crises. The event recognized 35 world leaders in scientific research and artistic creation.
“At the origin of the Frontiers Awards is the conviction that knowledge is the best tool for understanding the world and ourselves, facing the great challenges of our time and creating opportunities for all,” said the BBVA Foundation Chairman, Carlos Torres Vila.
The Basque capital hosted the Frontiers Awards events for the second time, after the BBVA Foundation decided in 2019 to make Bilbao the permanent home of its international awards, and the health alert caused by Covid-19 made it impossible to hold them in 2020. So on this occasion Bilbao hosted a double ceremony in which the 35 winners of the last two editions of the awards were recognized. The ceremony, co-chaired by the BBVA Foundation Chairman and the President of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Rosa Menéndez, was attended by the President of the Basque Government, Íñigo Urkullu, and the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto.
The day before, on Monday, September 20, the extraordinary concert preceding the awards ceremony was held at the Euskalduna Palace, conducted by the Euskadiko Orkestra, which has become the main partner orchestra of this event, under the musical direction of Robert Treviño.
"Beyond the pandemic," noted Carlos Torres Vila, "we live in an era of profound change, driven by one of the greatest technological disruptions in history, not to mention the enormous sustainability challenge."
But for the two great environmental challenges, climate change and the loss of biodiversity, "there is no vaccine," warned the Chairman of the BBVA Foundation, stressing that "humanity has never had so much responsibility as it does now. The knowledge-based actions we take today can transform our planet forever.
The president of the CSIC, Rosa Menéndez, also highlighted the transcendental role of science in the face of the challenges of today's world, explaining that “today it is more essential than ever to face global challenges: pandemics, climate change, conservation of natural heritage, of our biodiversity and our oceans. The scientific advances needed to identify and address these challenges arise from the curiosity, creativity and dedication of people like the award winners, whom we thank today for their efforts.”
Of the 35 winners in the eight categories of both editions of the awards, 24 were able to attend in person at the Euskalduna Palace, hailing from some of the most important research centers in the United States and Europe. The ceremony was attended by 35 members of the international juries of the eight categories of the awards, also from different countries. The Spanish scientific and cultural creation community was represented by researchers and academics from fifty institutions, including the deans of six universities and the directors of a dozen research centers and museums.