06 July 2016

Papal blessing for the EDS conference in Rome

His Holiness Pope Francis is a dedicated advocate of protecting the Earth’s precious water. In an extract from his encyclical letter Laudato Si’ 30, he wrote, “We know that water is a scarce and indispensable resource and a fundamental right which conditions the exercise of other human rights. This indisputable fact overrides any other assessment of environmental impact on a region.”

The European Desalination Society (EDS) invited His Holiness to attend their biennial conference on Desalination for the Environment, to be held in Rome in May 2016. Although he was unable to accept the invitation, one of his aides wrote to the EDS president, Genesys International director Ursula Annunziata, on his behalf, expressing the Pope’s appreciation of the conference. The letter ended, “With the assurance of his prayerful best wishes for the success of your conference, Pope Francis invokes abundant divine blessings on all present.”

We’re glad to report that the conference was indeed a great success, with over 550 participants from 56 countries, a well-supported exhibition and a large number of sponsors. There were some eminent dignitaries present and keynote speeches from Dr Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), and Professor Steve Duranceau from the University of Central Florida. There were some productive discussions on cross-border water opportunities between representatives from Israel, Jordan and Palestine.

Uniquely, the gala dinner featured an EDS song, specially written and performed by Ursula Annunziata, accompanied by pianist Richard Furstenheim and a talented local quartet.

The next EDS conferences will be in Leeuwarden, Israel and Greece.

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