Remarks by Ambassador John Phillips at the opening of NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

Ambassador Phillips at the Opening of NASA Space Apps Challenge

Rome, April 22, 2016
La Sapienza University, Faculty of Engineering

(As prepared for delivery)

Good evening.  I would like to thank our partner organizations for collaborating on the fourth edition of the NASA Space Apps Challenge in Rome: the European Space Agency, the Italian Space Agency, and La Sapienza University.  I’d also like to thank BIC Lazio for joining us this year.  The support and cooperation of all our partners has been critical to organizing this ambitious, non-stop, two-day hackathon.

Collaboration is definitely the key word for this event that brings together people and ideas in Rome, Naples and in more than 170 other cities around the world.

Ever since NASA launched this challenge in 2012, the emphasis has been on teamwork and sharing knowledge, valuable lessons we hope participants will gain from this experience.

Last year 14,000 people participated in SpaceApps Challenges worldwide, and we expect that figure to increase in 2016.  So, clearly, you are participating in the largest hackathon in the world.  This speaks not only to the worldwide appeal of NASA, but to the vast number of people willing to contribute to the greater good.

The United States and Italy have a long history of partnership on Science and Technology and on Space Exploration:  our two governments renewed the framework agreement on science and technology last January, and our bilateral agreement on Space Cooperation entered into force last February.  The Space Apps Challenge is another important aspect of this partnership, and I have personally witnessed the creativity and entrepreneurship of past winners.

Today, we also celebrate Earth Day, and in New York at the United Nations, Secretary Kerry and Prime Minister Renzi are signing the Paris Agreement, along with 130 other country representatives.

This agreement represents a significant milestone towards addressing one of our greatest shared challenges, climate change.  It sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to below two degrees Celsius and reducing emissions.

In this spirit of cooperation and partnership, let me congratulate all the young people who are joining the Space Apps challenge this weekend and thinking creatively about the challenges that face us all.  I look forward to hearing about your accomplishments and the innovative solutions you develop over the next two days, and I’m certain I’ll be awarding a global winner again soon!  Buon lavoro!