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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs > Releases > Other Releases > 2003
June 20, 2003

June 20, 2003

The Seventh Biennial Review Meeting under the Agreement between the Governments of the United States of America and Italy for Scientific and Technological Cooperation was held in Washington, DC June 17-18, 2003. The U.S. delegation was led by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Anthony Rock, Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science, U.S. Department of State, and the Italian delegation by Ambassador Francesco Aloisi de Larderel, Director General for Cultural Promotion and Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The agenda for the meeting appears as Annex I to this statement and the full list of the U.S. and Italian delegations appears as Annex II.

Objectives of the Meeting

The principal objectives of the meeting were to review progress on goals included in the Joint Statement signed in Rome on April 14, 2000, and to convene new bilateral working groups in the following areas: (1) geospatial technologies and applications; (2) microbial, plant and animal functional genomics; (3) nanotechnology and materials science; (4) health and biomedical research (5) information and communications technologies working groups. The emphasis of the current meeting was agreement on high-quality activities and projects of mutual interest that could be funded by both sides over the next two years in accordance with each side’s research priorities and procedures.

The second “U.S. Italy Joint Meeting on Climate Change – Science and Technology” was convened on June 16 under the 2001 bilateral agreement on climate change research and low carbon technologies. The other groups met on June 17 to discuss research strengths, shared goals, and to outline a joint program of cooperation for the next biennium.

Overview: International Science and Global Challenges

Although the needs are great for the application of the results of scientific and technological research, the two countries affirmed the continued importance of fundamental scientific inquiry in all disciplines, from high-energy physics to molecular medicine. Strong collaboration in fundamental science is historically at the core of the U.S.-Italy science and technology agreement and the two delegations agreed this should continue.

For example, the scientific collaboration between INFN, DOE and NSF in the field of nuclear, sub-nuclear and astroparticle physics has developed in a very fruitful way according to the programs and plans outlined in the Sixth Biennial Joint Statement signed in Rome in April 2000.

Relevant projects carried out in the framework of the current collaboration are the CDF experiment at Fermilab, the BaBar experiment at SLAC, the CLASS and Elettro experiments at TJNAF and the Borexino experiment performed at the INFN National Laboratory of Gran Sasso in Italy. INFN, DOE and NSF continue to refine the “Summer Students Exchange Programme”, first launched in 2002, and under consideration for 2003.

The scientific collaboration between Institutes belonging to the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) and to the National Research Council (CNR) and U.S. Universities and other institutions has a long tradition both in ground-based and in space astronomy.

The most relevant joint project is the construction of the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Mount Graham (AZ). LBT is a collaborative effort among the Arizona State University, the Ohio State University, the Research Corporation, Inaf and a Consortium of German Institutions, to build and operate two eight meter class telescopes on a single mount, with interferometric capacity.

The Parties acknowledged a common interest in the field of burning plasma science and agreed the bilateral framework could provide an appropriate mechanism to explore possible ways of collaboration.

The two countries also agreed that stronger bilateral S&T cooperation in meeting global challenges in multilateral fora could make common goals more achievable and resource allocations more effective. The cooperation promoted in climate change research and in low carbon technologies, following the July 19, 2001 pledge of President Bush and Prime Minister Berlusconi, is a successful response.

The two governments agreed to explore areas for possible coordination in the water sector in CSD and other fora, including the G-8, and to continue the cooperation in global health issues, and basic and applied research to promote sustainable use and management of natural resources. Cooperative projects in building health capacity in developing countries, helping to build capacities to use geospatial technologies in Africa and other developing regions, including the use of widely available satellite imagery to monitor and analyze natural resources, and working on geothermal energy sources in Africa through international public-private partnerships could exemplify bilateral actions to support multilateral agendas. The two governments also agreed that the existing cooperation in parks and conservation should be deepened to include parks and protected areas management as an outcome of the IUCN World Parks Congress scheduled for Durban, South Africa later this year. The delegations also agreed that the sustainable use of freshwater resources is the single most important challenge facing the developing world because it underpins survival, health, agricultural, industrial and economic well-being.

The two countries also noted the growing importance of international scientific institutions including scientists from the developing world. In this respect, the two countries agreed to look at opportunities for cooperative work with the Third World Academy of Science located in Trieste.

The delegations also underlined the important role of science and technology in the global context since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Science and technology must play a growing role in ensuring the security of persons and property threatened by terrorist action. New technologies in transportation security, in the smooth and effective management of immigration controls at borders, and in tracking the financial assets of internationally designated terrorist organizations are essential. In particular, space related technologies and earth observation data information are considered as basic inputs to develop security applications connected with counter-terrorism and the protection of critical infrastructures. In this framework, some Italian centers and universities are involved with American laboratories and universities in strategic programs. The delegations noted with satisfaction the inclusion of medical research to develop responses to bioterrorism within the Memorandum of Understanding on health cooperation signed by Italian Minister of Health Sirchia and HHS Secretary Thompson in April of this year.

Confirming the strategic role of space activities, both Parties note with satisfaction the progress made in Space through the excellent relations between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and NASA. In particular, the two countries recall the adventure of the International Space Station, in which USA and ITALY have a primary role and have developed a strong partnership. This long term cooperation resulted in the development and delivery to NASA of three Pressurized Modules (MPLM) and of two NODES. A new space challenge involves the cooperation between ASI and NASA in the MARS Exploration Program, under an exchange of letters signed in September 2001.

The two countries agreed that cooperation in the development of paradigm shift technologies like nanotechnologies, microbial, plant and animal functional genomics, and advanced computing networks was of fundamental economic importance to the future of the United States and Italy. Projects linking the education of researchers, the continuing education of technical employees, and mechanisms to shorten the time between invention and innovation were designated as key objectives to be discussed in a future workshop on science and innovation strategies.

The 6th Italy/USA Bilateral Seminar on Metrology, reviewed scientific cooperation in the area of Metrology and Standards, and was held in Turin, 16-17 November 2000. The two parties recognized the following issues as “high-priority”: 1) fostering cooperation in the fields of metrology, measurement standards and accreditation to strengthen and improve scientific and technical capabilities; 2) maintaining and extending the exchange of scientists between NIST and the Italian Metrological Institutions; 3) fostering new initiatives to increase cooperation between Regional Organizations in the field of Metrology and of dissemination of SI units.

Italian institutions cooperating with NIST include:

  • Istituto di Metrologia “G. Colonnetti” of CNR (IMGC-CNR)
  • Istituto Elettrotecnico Nazionale “Galileo Ferraris” (IEN)
  • Centro di Radiochimica ed Analisi per Attivazione (CRAA-CNR), now part of the IMGC-CNR
  • Istituto Nazionale delle Radiazioni Ionizzanti (IMRI-ENEA).
Climate Change Science and Clean Energy Technologies and Production

On June 16 during the second “U.S.-Italy Joint Meeting on Climate Change Science and Technology,” the United States and Italy reviewed progress in a wide range of cooperative science and technology areas. Joint scientific activities focus on climate change modeling, atmospheric processes, the carbon cycle, remote sensing, human and ecosystem health, and ocean observations and the ocean ecosystem. On the technology side, the discussions highlighted cooperation on the hydrogen infrastructure and energy technologies, including fuel cells, renewable energy, advanced power systems, and advanced energy technologies including carbon capture and sequestration. The two countries announced their intention to promote the exchange of graduate students, young scientists, and senior scientists in the area of climate change science and technology.

Joint efforts are advancing our understanding of the effects of aerosols on cloud properties and climate forcing and improving our ability to simulate and predict climate variability from the global to the regional scale. Cooperative carbon cycle research includes project to reduce uncertainties in the carbon budget, development of technologies for measuring carbon flux, and to evaluate carbon balances of the U.S. West Coast and Italy. The U.S. and Italy agreed to organize a Workshop on Clean Energy Technologies in Sacramento, California, in September 2003. Italian and U.S experts from government, the academic community, the private sector and financial institutions will discuss issues of implementation of new low-emission energy technologies, such as hydrogen production from renewable sources and fossil fuels, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy, clean fossil fuels and fuel cell application (stationary and automotive). In anticipation of the workshop, the U.S. and Italy will amend the bilateral agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ministry of Productive Activities to include the Ministry of Environment and Territory.

The United States and Italy reconfirmed their commitment to the bilateral partnership on climate change. The two sides will review progress on cooperative research activities at the next meeting to be held in Rome in May 2004. Further, the two countries agreed to work together to ensure the success of the next round of climate change discussions under the ninth Conference of the Parties to the UN framework convention on climate change (COP-9) to be held in Milan, Italy, December 1-12 2003. In this regard the US and Italy will present their bilateral program at the occasion of COP-9 to demonstrate how our cooperative activities are advancing efforts to address climate change in tangible and practical ways.

A joint project on the development of geothermal energy in Eastern Africa is being developed with the participation of Italy, the United States, UNEP and GEF.

Synopses of working group targets

Geospatial Technologies and Applications

Geospatial cooperation will include earth observation at local and regional scales for monitoring and protection of the environment. This cooperation will focus on the application of geographic information and technologies for land use planning, natural resources management, land degradation/rehabilitation as well as risk management. Emphasis will be given to the linkage between geospatial information and decision-making. The goal is to encourage good governance by increasing transparency and representation of local interests in policy and management processes, through the application of science and technology, in situ observations and community-based knowledge.

The delegation welcomed the signing of a Framework for Cooperation between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to improve the capacity of African stakeholders to use geospatial information in land use planning and policymaking, for which the Italian satellite data receiving stations at ASI Geodesy Space Center in Matera and Space Telemetry Center in Malindi could provide relevant support. This activity would include a range of national and international, governmental and non-governmental organizations, universities and private sector interests as key partner in executing this initiative.

The Italian Space Agency, in accordance with the Earth Observation guidelines established by the Italian Space Plan 2003-2005, is available to support the effort of both Parties with technical and scientific expertise.

Following the progress made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development Conference in Johannesburg last year and the action plan approved at the G8 Summit in Evian on science and technology for sustainable development, the delegation took note of the next two important steps: the planned Earth Observation Summit, to be held in Washington, D.C. on July 31, 2003, and the Fourth GMES Forum to be held in Baveno, Italy, November 26-28, 2003 where the 2004-2008 European Implementation Plan will be presented.

Biomass and soil carbon sequestration offer a good opportunity of mitigating climate changes and enhancing at the same time sustainable natural resource use at community level. Geospatial technologies and in situ observations can be used to assess, verify and monitor carbon stocks and fluxes. Both USA and Italy have engaged in activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach. We seek closer collaboration in exchanging methodologies, data, information and experiences on such type of projects, as well as capacity building and generation of markets for carbon credits.

Activities of technical and scientific cooperation will be based upon national agencies and research centers such as NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey on the U.S. side, and IAO, ASI, Institute of Volcanology and Geophysics, University of Tuscia and other research and teaching institutions on the Italian side. Additionally, areas for further cooperation and strengthening on geospatial technologies include themes such as: oceanography, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, carbon cycle research, forestry, agriculture, disaster prevention and management support.

In addition, this will include applications on issues such as critical infrastructure, transportation systems and security of citizens, e.g. civil protection against natural and human-induced catastrophes.

The use of geospatial information is critical to supporting the efforts of the Governments of the United States and Italy. Considerable progress has been made through the independent efforts of both governments, and new synergies will be created by this joint working group program, and particularly through the implementation of the Framework for Technical Cooperation. The working group has already identified five activities to be carried out jointly, and will identify resource requirements for the consideration of the two governments.

Microbial, Plant and Animal Functional Genomics

The cooperation will focus on the research and application of results from functional genomics, metanomics, and proteomics, as it may apply to microbial plant and animal genetics. The two countries confirmed their support for a comprehensive ban on human cloning. The two countries agreed that the benefits and promise of biotechnology for human health, for sustainable industrial production, and for agricultural production globally must be approached from the aspect of firm scientific understanding. The parties will seek to identify and develop genomic projects of mutual interest with emphasis on plant-based systems including plants used as bioreactors. Funding opportunities will be jointly sought for projects judged mutually beneficial to both countries. An appropriate combination of laboratory and field trials is needed to assess the value and environmental safety of plants improved through biotechnology. Government policies should reflect scientific understanding and uncertainties; significant efforts must be made to provide accurate and comprehensible information about biotechnology to the public, and governments, in conjunction with the scientific community, should take leadership in this effort.

Nanotechnology and Material Science

The two countries confirmed the importance of nanotechnologies as a paradigm shift which will underpin a new generation of technologies and products, possibly as sweeping as ICT and biotechnology.  The results of a bilateral workshop held in Washington at the National Science Foundation in May 2002 provided suggested topics for collaboration among U.S. universities and research institutions and Italian centers of excellence. These topics include:

  • novel behavior of electrons in low dimensional systems
  • understanding the nanoscale:

    -- nanoelectronics and spintronics
    -- optics and optoelectronics
    -- fabrication and self-assembly
  • biomolecular materials and devices

These topics will be integrated with related aspects that include societal impact and education, and nanotechnology processes and tools. Of particular importance is the promotion of bilateral activity based on center-to-center cooperation. On the base of the Workshop report the two parties will define a map of possible center-to-center collaborations, including NSF and DOE centers. Proposed joint activities include exchange of researchers, students, and postdocs, joint workshops, cooperative research leading to joint, publishable research.

Further, the two countries agreed to allow industrial affiliates and non-profit organizations to be included in joint activities subject to the agreement of the funding agencies and to the provision of their own funding. These collaborative activities are expected to develop to the point of establishing joint laboratories.

The first example of a proposed joint laboratory involves the Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University in the Chicago area in the US and the University of Padua and the Nanotechnology Cluster in the Veneto region in Italy. The two parties will assess funding for equipment and management of the joint laboratory. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the limits of its yearly budget, will examine the possibility of contributing to the research expenses of this Joint Research Laboratory.

The National Nanotechnology Laboratory at the University of Lecce (INFM and CNR) and the Drexel University & the University of Pennsylvania Nanoscience Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) are in the process of developing a Joint Research Laboratory. The Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, within the limits of its yearly budget, will examine the possibility of contributing to research expenses of this joint laboratory.

The National Enterprise on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (INFM) and Scuola Normale Superiore of the University of Pisa and the Nonsocial Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) at the Columbia University are in the process of developing a Joint Research Laboratory. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the limits of its yearly budget, will examine the possibility of contributing to research expenses of this joint laboratory.

The Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) Institute for Nanostructured Materials-Bologna Division and the Los Alamos National Nanotechnology Initiative, are in the process of developing a Joint Research Laboratory. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the limits of its yearly budget, will examine the possibility of contributing to research expenses of this joint laboratory.

The University of Rome Tor Vergata and the University of Florida, Gainesville, propose the creation of a joint research laboratory on Nanostructured Materials for Solid State Ionic Devices, which will be devoted to the study of nanostructured materials for electrochemical sensors for automotive emissions and for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells. This laboratory will be inserted in the frame of the existing joint PhD course on Materials for Environment and Energy Applications, established on the academic year 2001-02. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the limits of its yearly budget, will examine the possibility of contributing to the research expenses of this Joint Research Laboratory.

Health and Biomedical Research

Scientific experts in the areas of cancer, bioterrorism and rare diseases initiated discussions on implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in April 2003 by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and the Italian Health Minister, Girolamo Sirchia.

Discussions in the area of cancer took place in Italy between Italian health minister Sirchia and Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, Director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, concurrent with the meetings of the sub-groups on rare diseases and bioterrorism in Washington. The two sides reviewed the very positive current and on-going joint collaborative research projects and agreed to pursue further discussions in the near future to explore further opportunities for joint collaboration.

In the area of biodefense research, the two sides agreed to exchange information on programs and activities, exchange scientists, provide and strengthen research training including standardization of guidelines, and identify opportunities for collaborative research consistent with the peer reviewed scientific application process of both countries. Research areas of particular interest include but are not necessarily limited to the development of new or improved diagnostic tests, drugs, vaccines and other prevention products, clinical trials and epidemiology research.

The workgroup on rare diseases agreed to explore areas to coordinate the development and dissemination of information about rare diseases, education, and training of research investigators, and review the needs and opportunities for collaborative research efforts.

The Italian Higher Institute of Health (ISS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have expressed their mutual interest in a number of priority health areas: cancer, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, tobacco control, women’s health, neuroscience research, including neuro-degenerative disease research, medical rehabilitation research, communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Collaboration will be strengthened by promoting investigators' mobility and by fostering joint research and training in developing Countries. A Letter of Intent including relevant areas of cooperation will be concluded in the near future between the Director of NIH and the President of ISS. These activities will be conducted under the HHS- Health Ministry MOU.

Since the United States and Italy are the two largest contributors to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, bilateral cooperation in vaccine development is a logical extension and complement to the broader international effort.

Information and Communications Technology

The two parties confirmed a common interest in developing cooperation on Wireless Mobile Networks and Grid technology and cyberinfrastructure, in recognition that these are among fastest growing areas in information and communication technologies.

Wireless Mobile Networks are a response to the needs of self-adapting, rapidly deployable networks, to provide communication and network services in situations where wired networks are unavailable. Their range of application includes communication in remote or hostile environments, management of emergencies, disaster recovery, and ad-hoc commercial installations. The parties noted the need for work toward common, international technical standards.

The two governments confirmed the importance of pursuing the coordination of research activities in Grid technologies and the integration of the national and regional cyberinfrastructures that support the scientific enterprise. The term grid refers to the middleware technologies, tools, and persistent services used to support distributed resource sharing and collaboration. The scientific enterprise is viewed to be research, people, institutions, and resources that are located in Italy and in the United States.

To reach this goal, the parties agreed to support a joint group that will identify areas of collaboration and how that collaboration can best be promoted.

New Agreements for Cooperation

  • HHS and Italian Ministry of Health, Memorandum of Understanding on Health Cooperation; signed on April 17, 2003
  • USAID and DGCS Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Framework for Technical Cooperation on the Establishment of a Partnership in Geo-spatial Information; signed on June 18, 2003
Next Meetings

The two sides agreed to convene the next full bilateral review not later than the end of 2005, at a date and location in Italy to be decided. The Department of State (OES/STC), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Embassy to the United States of America, and the U.S Embassy to Italy agree to prepare not later than September 2004 an informal working report on the implementation of cooperation included in this declaration.

Renewal of S&T Agreement

Both sides acknowledged and agreed to the automatic renewal of the S&T Agreement for the period October 2003 to October 2008.

Anthony Rock
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Oceans, Environment, Science
U.S. Department of State
For the American Delegation

Francesco Aloisi de Larderel
Ambassador, Director General for
Cultural Promotion and Cooperation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
For the Italian Delegation


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