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Science is key to tackling global challenges, says President Tony Tan

Science plays a key role in finding solutions to "global challenges" such as threats to energy, water and food supply as well as climate change, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Friday.

SINGAPORE: Science plays a key role in finding solutions to "global challenges" such as threats to energy, water and food supply as well as climate change, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said.

Dr Tan was speaking at the closing of the second Global Young Scientists Summit at one-north on Friday.

He said future scientists and technology leaders have an important part to play in contributing to such solutions.

The Global Young Scientists Summit, organised by the National Research Foundation (NRF), brought together about 350 young researchers from around the world.

They came from the ASEAN region, as well as countries like the United States and Israel.

The five-day summit saw them attend plenary lectures by prominent international scientists.

They were also encouraged to submit proposals to address challenges related to urban development.

Out of the submissions of 35 participants, 10 were chosen to give final presentations at Friday's closing ceremony.

The winning proposal was for a bacterial biosensor that could be used to detect hazardous materials and pollutants in urban water supplies. It came from Yossi Kabessa, who is from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The proposal is based on Mr Kabessa's ongoing research with bacterial biosensors to detect landmines from a remote location.

Mr Kabessa won a Singapore Challenge Medallion and US$100,000 in cash prize.

NRF's partner for the Challenge, the Infocomm Development Authority, said it is keen to explore test-bed opportunities with relevant agencies for the winning idea.

Such technologies could provide solutions to problems faced by cities due to trends such as rapid urbanisation.

Dr Tan said: "In the context that the world population will rise from 6.8 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050, we will be witnessing an unprecedented rate of urbanisation at the global level. There will be dramatic effects on the environment, public health and the supply of food, water and energy.

“The scientific community must work with one another and with the public and private sectors to find creative, out-of-the-box responses." 

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