Catalan Scientists Around the World (In Transit #26)


Published on

Catalan Scientists Around the World (In Transit #26)

Source: IT In Transit

Date: April 2014.

Published in: News & Politics, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Catalan Scientists Around the World (In Transit #26)

  1. 1. Catalonia, the Southern Europe’s Knowledge hub: Keys and challenges Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 29/04/2014 No one can doubt by now that Catalonia is a major (if not “the”) knowledge hub in Southern Europe. Excellence in research should be measured in terms of inputs (competitive funding, talent attraction, awards and project leadership…) and outputs (publications, knowledge generation, ranking positions…). In terms of inputs, one of the most restrictive labels among European countries is provided by the European Research Council, the organisation encouraging high quality research through competitive funding to the best scientists pursuing frontier research, only on the basis of scientific excellence (only 10% of applications are awarded). Remarkably, Catalonia would rank second among European Union member States and fourth within the European Research Area, in terms of grants per population. As for the outputs, the papers published by researchers working in Catalonia in top science magazines are comparable and even higher to those of the leading European countries (32.8 papers in Science and Nature per million inhabitants between 2008 and 2012, versus the 33.4 of Israel, 22.2 of Germany and 18.2 of France…). As a major knowledge generator, Catalonia attracts international top researchers: about 50% of senior grant recipients got their degree abroad. Despite Catalonia represents only 1.5% of the EU’s population, researchers in Catalonia publish 3% of all European papers, receive 2.4% of EU’s competitive funding and 3.4% of the European Research Council’s grants. This means an output 50 to 100% higher than the expected according to our population share. Catalonia, a nation with 7.5 million inhabitants and a size similar to other European countries as Finland, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands and even Israel, has created its own R&D model, a model outstanding from its surrounding neighbour’s models thanks to some straight and clear premises: flexibility, openness, talent attraction approach, internationalization focus and creation of a unique environment, a system formed by 12 universities,over60researchinstitutions,10top-notchhospitals,3largeinfrastructures,about20technological centres, about 250 spin-offs and almost 9,000 innovative companies. This is the result of 15 years of a sound bet for talent attraction and environment creation. By the year 2000 the Government of Catalonia decided that, once the universities map completed, a network of hospitals having research as a distinctive mark versus healthcare organizations from neighboring territories, and research pivoting around a set of centers bureaucratically managed from Madrid by the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), it was time to set our own R&D scenario and to actively boost a competitive research system. It was almost drawn de novo, driven by the current Minister of Economy and Knowledge, Prof. Andreu Mas-Colell during his former appointment in a previous government. Based on the independence of ideas, flexibility in governance, international focus and competitiveness, the new model followed the equation “talent + environment = opportunities”. The three main instruments for this “people not projects” policy built on a sound university system were: • ICREA (the “Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies”). Currently, almost 250 scientists have been hired, about 60% of which come from abroad. These 250 ICREA researchers represent only 1% of Catalonia’s research community and yet obtain 44% of Catalonia’s ERC Grants (and more than countries like Norway, Portugal or Ireland). The annual budget of this program is about 20 million euros and it generates in return 60 million euros from external funds. Around each ICREA, seven clear jobs are created on average. • TheCERCAnetworkof46university-basedresearchcenters.Locatedatuniversitycampuses,theircommon features are flexible governance, autonomy, excellence-driven activities, international scientific committees and periodic ex-post evaluations. The success of the initiative is outstanding: one of these centers, ICFO (Catalan Institute of Photonic Sciences) ranks in the top position world-wide of research institutions on Physics according to a Max Plank Society ranking based publications and citations data. The almost 5000 researchers that work in these centers (20% of Catalonia’s research community) gather more than 50% of the ERC received in our country, almost the same as Finland as a whole. • The third instrument involves large facilities, unique in Southern Europe, like the ALBA Synchrotron, the NationalCentreforGenomicAnalysisandtheBarcelonaSupercomputingCentre(BSC).Theseinfrastructures bring about the participation of Catalonia in the main international R&D projects, funded by the EU. On top of that, also our universities (the basis of our current R&D system) provide indicators of excellence (two Catalan universities rank among the top 200 in the QS World University Ranking and 4 are ranked among THE Top 100 under 50 years). And yet, the best news is that this system still provides plenty of room for improvement, for that reason we are implementing a University Reform that includes in-depth changes in governance and talent recruiting. And transversally to it all, there lies a sound stability in the application of these science policy guidelines, with the political and funding commitment of all Governments, regardless of the party holding the Presidency of the country. To safeguard this commitment, virtually all parties Catalan and Josep M. Martorell i Rodon, Director General of Research in the Generalitat seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter EDITORIAL
  2. 2. social agents signed in 2008 a National Agreement on Research and Innovation that is periodically renewed. Now, in the current context of crisis, our challenge is not anymore to continue growing at the same pace, but rather to consolidate the assets. With a solid base and a strong political budgetary commitment (maintained by different governments), we have been able to create a powerful knowledge hub in barely a decade. Now, we have to effectively turn knowledge into value. Technology transfer has been a major shortcoming of our system. We have not been particularly adept implementing innovation policies so far. But I am optimistic we can successfully address this challenge in the nearby future. Our R&D system is mature enough to generate growth. We have started to implement some measures, facilitating academic talent recruitment by companies and creating instruments for science-based technology companies to leverage growth and attract private capital, just to mention a few. But we can’t go much further within the current political framework. Catalonia would experience a quantum leap in R&D and innovation, should it become an independent State. Two main reasons support my statement: the Spanish policies on that regard have proven to be less competitive that the Catalan ones; and the main areas on which we would impact on are governance flexibility and fiscal policies, both currently competence of the Spanish Government. These are among our main challenges by now. Photo: Josep Maria Martorell
  3. 3. Perseverance and passion for progress: the keys to Catalan science Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 The tunnel effect of magnetization constitutes one of the latest outstan- ding discoveries led by a Catalan scientist. It joins a long line of crucial scientific and technological develo- pments in various fields of knowled- ge developed in Catalunya. The line stretches back from the Middle Ages to the present day. Last autumn we saw how, for the first time, a physicist from our country, Professor Javier Tejada of the Universitat de Barcelo- na, was recognised as the discoverer of a new phenomenon in the history of physics: the mesoscopic tunnel effect of the magnetization of mole- cular magnets. It is a step forward in the study of the properties of elemen- tary particles that explains how the magnetic poles of small magnets, consisting of millions of atoms, at very low temperatures, can change orientation without any energy expenditure. From the classics to modern day scientists, or vice versa, Inventat en Català (Invented in Catalan, published by Mina, Òmnium Cultural, 2008) lists a series of achievements in our science. It does not claim to be a definitive list, but wishes to show the talent in our country in areas where typically we are not seen as leaders, in spite of evidence to the contrary. It is a journey that at the same time opens the way to the biographies of these excep- tional people, since the emotional, family context, with all respect for personal privacy, brings us closer to the human value of scientists and helps us to understand their work. What common characteristics are shared by these inventors and scientists across the ages? The question requires us to generalise to an undesirable extent. However, the feeling one gets after reviewing the lives and works of the scientists, from reading about them and interviewing the present day experts, shows us that they all have been and continue to be very persistent in spite of obstacles; they hold a strong belief in the advancement of technology and knowledge; are of an en- lightened spirit and passionate for progress, especially that of Catalunya; they often hold a nationalistic politi- cal commitment and in many instances they are self-taught. A taste for the classics appears indispensable. A trip back in time via the works of our science historians trans- ports us to the age in which the territory that currently makes up Catalunya was the new Arabic astronomy’s gateway to Europe in medieval times. It is at this time, not with- out a dose of daring, that we find the audacious Ramon Llull, who created his masterpiece Art, with evangelistic intentions. His celebrated work gathered all areas of knowledge: logic, metaphysics, philosophy, theology, law, medicine and other natural sciences, the liberal arts, mechanics and so on. His innovative method was ahead of its time in terms of the technology used for the computational treatment of data, through using ‘Lullian’ language, consisting of unique figures and alphabets. Another instance is Arnau de Vilanova, physician to kings and popes and an alchemist with a scien- tific approach, which led him to promote the use of pure alcohol for medicinal purposes. We must not forget advances in that other science, cartography, where the Mallorcan School and the Cresques family were key. Around the eighteenth century, in a historic period in which Catalunya suffered shortages in economic and political power, two visionaries of the industrial revolution stand out as a paradigm. Francesc Santponç i Roca, when he was director of the Statics Department of the Barcelona Academy of Arts and Sciences, built the dou- ble acting steam engine at the request of the textile entrepreneur Jacint Ramon. As for Francesc Salvà i Cam- pillo, he invented the electric telegraph and his work promoted such advances as the static balloon, submarine navigation, transport via ‘a dry canal’ using coaches ‘on rails’ and meteorology: for 44 years (1780- 1824) he took daily readings of the temperature in Barcelona. The preoccupation with health, inherent in the struggle for human survival, has provided an impetus to scien- tific discoveries in this area in our country to the present day. This is reflected in the fact that biomedical research that has been developed in Catalunya receives international recognition. In the fourteenth century, the doctor and professor of the Universitat de Lleida, Jaume d’Agramunt, wrote a report on the Black Plague where he denounced the lack of hygienic provisions. We also learn of Jaume Ferran i Clua’s fascinating career, in which he faced both successes and difficulties. He was the inventor of the cholera vaccine, the first bacte- rial vaccine to be used on humans. Ferran i Clua did not hesitate to test the efficacy of his vaccine on himself. Another innovator is Ramón Turró i Darder, creator of the Catalan biological school and promoter of the study of immunology and the hygiene movement. We can take a leap forward to our day to meet scientists who are leaders in the field of biomedicine: Valentí Fuster, who discovered the factors that cause heart attacks and the value of aspirin in their prevention; Bernat Sòria, creator of techniques for producing insulin using embryonic stem cells; Anna Veiga, the scientific mother of the first test-tube child to be born in the Spanish state and Joan Massagué, the discoverer of genes that cause metastasis in breast cancer. There are many more brilliant names carrying out research such as Lina Badimon, director of the Cardiovas- cular Investigation Centre (CSIC-ICCC) of Barcelona, or Fàtima Bosch, director of the Animal Biology and Gene Therapy Centre of the Universitat Au- tònoma de Barcelona. Maria Josep Picó. Catalan International View. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  4. 4. Meteorology, which is currently highly valued in Catalunya, has an extraordinary scientific tradition, as does astronomy. Llorenç Presas i Puig, who can be considered the first scientist to systematically observe the sky, was also the inventor of the hydrometer. What is more, he understood the importance of mathematics and the availability of a series of observations in order to improve the reliability of climatic predictions. Josep Co- mas i Solà discovered asteroids and comets and was the first director of the Fabra Observatory, while Eduard Fontserè was the father of professional meteorology and the Catalan Meteorological Service. With these me- teorologists and astronomers, who showed significant political commitment (Fontserè, for example, was a man of a pronounced Catalanist personality and firmly progressive ideas), we enter the nineteenth century. It was also to be a century in which some geniuses were born. They were to be affected by the happenings of the second half of the century when both in Spain and abroad there were periods of great political uncertainty. In Catalunya, meanwhile, the Renaissance triumphed, where the development of science and technology were synonymous with progress, autonomy and well-being. Narcís de Monturiol stands out in this period. He was a great defender of democratic ideals and the inventor of the submarine ‘Ictíneo’ (despite having studied law), alongside other mechanisms such as a machine for printing registers and a cigarette making machine; Jaume Arbós i Tor, a chemist who invented the apiration gasogen and a means to make the so-called ‘Arbós gas’, which made the illumination of many Catalan cities a possibility, at an affordable price; Rafael Guastavino, creator of cohesive architecture, a system of con- struction used around the world and which was to triumph in New York; Josep Trueta, a doctor exiled in Oxford following the Spanish Civil War, developed a method for treating gangrene, thus avoiding thousands of amputations in nu- merous wars. Trueta is one of the main examples of a scientist who is committed to their country and always defended his national identity. In fact, in 1946 he wrote The Spirit of Catalonia, to spread Catalan culture and history in the Anglo- Saxon world. It would not be fair to ignore the natural sciences, encouraged by the Catalan interest in nature. Pius Font i Quer is a name that stands out. He consolidated the Catalan school of botany, described over 200 new plant species and promoted the Barcelona Botanical Institute. Later, the brilliant Ramon Margalef made an im- pact as a promoter, with an international reputation, of ecology, limnology and oceanography. Speaking of inventions, it is worth mentioning some which were developed by Margalef for the development of scientific research, such as a machine for making rain or another that imitated the turbulence of the sea, dubbed the ‘mar Galef ’ (with ‘mar’ meaning sea). He was the father of ecology, the formation of which was begun at his father’s bidding. He also sparked an interest in dozens of noteworthy scientists, of which two stand out: Jose- fina Castellví, the first woman in the world to head an oceanographic base in the Antarctic and Marta Estrada, explorer of the Mediterranean and Polar regions. We have two more journeys to make before finishing this scientific expedition. Chronologically, the first was research into life in the past at the hands of Miquel Crusafont (who identified a new geological period between the Middle and Upper Miocene, the Vallesià, and found the Can Llobateres archaeological site) and Eudald Carbonell, one of those responsible for the excavations at the Atapuerca site and discoverer of Homo anteces- sor, seen as the first European. The second journey, with our gaze fixed on Mars, was led by Joan Oró, who was born in Lleida and subsequently moved to America, where he worked as a scientist for NASA. He proved why there is no life on the planet, at the same time as he discovered how the key molecule for life, adenine, can be synthesised. The paths of science, Catalan inventions and discoveries, are still well-trodden, as demonstrated recently by Jacek Wierzchos, from the Universitat de Lleida, who showed the world that crystals from a Mar- tian meteorite that fell in the Antarctic may be of biological origin. First published in Catalan International View Photo: Catalan International View
  5. 5. Scientific study directed by Dr. Joan Massagué uncovers the mechanisms of brain metastasis Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 28/02/2014 Barcelona (ACN).- A scientific research conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Centre in New-York, and directed by Catalan Oncologist Joan Massagué has shed light on the biological mechanisms used by cancer cells to metastasise in the brain. The study, published in the 27th magazine, reveals that cancer cells which manage to form new tumours in the brain, do so by attaching themselves to capillaries and secreting special proteins to overpower the brain’s defence mechanisms. According to Dr. Massagué - recently appointed Scientific Director of the Sloan Kettering Institute for leading the way in research on metastasis and cell-growth - the study could be instrumental in preventing and treating Multiple-Organ-Metastasis. Metastasis, the process through which tumerous cells spread from one organ or tissue to other parts of the body, is the most common cause of death for patients diagnosed with cancer. Metastasised brain tumours are ten times more common than primary brain cancers. Only 1 out of 1000 cells reaching the brain can survive there The majority of tumerous cells die before being able to implant themselves in the brain, which is less vulnerable than most other organs to cancer cell migration. In order to spread to the brain, cancer cells have to break away from their initial tumour, enter the blood stream, and cross the highly selective brain-blood barrier, composed of high- density cells and separating the blood circulation system from the brain extracellular fluid. Until now, only little research had been done on how metastasised brain tumours develop, but past experiments on cancer cell migration, conducted on mice, have indicated that of only one out of a thousand cells reaching the brain can survive there. How can this minority of cancer cells that successfully spreads to the brain survive? “We didn’t know why so many of these cells were dying” explained the main author of the study, Doctor Joan Massagué, who was recently appointed Scientific Director of the Sloan Kettering Institute, the leading cancer research centre in the world. “What kills them? And why do some of them survive in such a vulnerable state— sometimes hiding in the brain for years—and then all of a sudden expanding into new tumours? What keeps such strange cells alive and where do they hide?” wondered the Catalan scientist, who is also the Vice-Director of Barcelona’s Institute for Research in Biomedicine. Secreting a protein to fight against the brain’s cell killing astrocytes During their research, the scientists discovered that in the case of mice suffering from breast and lung cancer— two types of tumours that often spread to the brain—many cancer cells that reached the brain were killed by astrocytes. Astrocytes are the most common kind of brain cells and secrete a protein called ‘Fas ligand’, belonging to the ‘Tumor necrosis factors’ family as it can cause cell death. Indeed, when the cancer cells come into contact with this protein, they are forced to self-destruct. The few of them that can avoid the astrocytes do so by producing a protein called serpin, which acts like an antidote against the death signals sent by the astrocytes. Sticking to capillaries to be protected and develop into new tumours After susses fully reproducing metastasised cells to overcome the defence mechanisms of mice, the searchers found out that the cells that were able to survive in the mice’s brain were those that grew next to blood capillaries, with each cell attached to its own blood vessel “like a panda bear embracing the trunk of a tree”, in Dr. Massagué’s words. The scientists discovered that the cancer cells could produce a protein acting like a Velcro to stick to the walls of capillaries. “This adhesion is clearly essential” said the Catalan Scientist. “If a tumour cell disconnects from its recipient, it is eliminated by the nearby astrocytes. If not, it is nourished and protected, and at some point, can begin to divide and form a sheath around the blood vessel”. Under the microscope, the searchers observed that some of the cancer cell that covered blood capillaries grew into small balls, which eventually formed tumours. “Once you’ve seen it, you can’t forget the image” stated the Scientific Director of the Sloan Kettering Institute. Reducing the risks of metastasis for patients The tumour cells’ capacity for survival, which was uncovered with this study, could be medically treated in CNA - Catalan News Agency seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  6. 6. the future in order to reduce the patients’ risks of metastasis. Dr. Massagué is particularly interested in the tumour cells’ ability to attach themselves to blood vessels. Indeed, he suspects that this behaviour is essential for the survival of the metastasised cancer cells not only in the brain, but also in other parts of the body where metastasis is likely to occur. “Most cancer patients suffer from the risk that their tumour will spread to multiple other parts [of the body]” explained the Catalan Scientist. Breast cancer, for instance, can spread to the bones, lungs, and liver, as well as to the brain. “What we might be looking at”, he added, “is the future path toward preventing metastasis in multiple organs at once” using medicine that can make the cancer cells detach themselves from the blood vessels that they have been sticking to. First published in Catalan News Agency. Photo: Joan Massagué, by Catalan News Agency
  7. 7. Valentí Fuster. The doctor’s social commitment Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 “Doctors have a commitment to society that we cannot forget,”saysDrValentíFuster,directoroftheCardiovascular Institute at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the Carlos III National Cardiovascular Research Centre in Madrid. This social vocation has led this doctor from Barcelona – one of the world’s leading cardiology experts – to work untiringly as a disseminator and educator. Allow me to begin with an anecdote: some sources say that you were born in Cardona… Yes, it’s one of those biographical errors you can find on the Internet. As an adopted son of Cardona, I am very committed to it, and my wife was born there, but I am actually from Barcelona. Your family relationship with Barcelona could hardly be closer: your father, Dr Joaquim Fuster i Pomar, was director of psychiatry at the Hospital de Sant Pau, and both of your grandfathers were doctors; one of them, Valentí Carulla i Margenat, was rector of the University of Barcelona from 1913 to 1923… I never met him personally, but I researched him thoroughly and wrote my maternal grandfather’s biography. Valentí Carulla was a very interesting man anddeeply committed to education. It was he who achieved access to school for everyone in Catalonia, regardless of the family’s economic situation. My father was the director of psychiatry at Sant Pau and later managed the Sant Andreu mental hospital. He had his private practice very close to home. My paternal grandfather was also a doctor, practising in Mallorca. My older brother is a neurophysiologist and works in Los Angeles. What family memories do you have of the Barcelona of your parents’ era? My father was an intellectual, and I have a very clear memory of the meetings he held every Sunday with the group he called “the gang”. I remember my mother’s social involvement very particularly. My father was from Mallorca, and he came to live in Barcelona; the family settled in Pedralbes, where, as I said before, he had his practice. He was a psychiatrist and gave me the freedom I needed to develop as a person, for which I will be eternally grateful to him. My mother instilled a strong social concern in me. Besides the family tradition, when did you decide you wanted to become a doctor? I did my higher secondary education at the Jesuit school in Barcelona and wanted to study agriculture, because I have always liked nature and research related to the land. However, at that time there was no agricultural university course in Barcelona and it was hard to move away from the family environment. In the end, I chose medicine, thanks also to the influence of Professor Pere Farreras i Valentí, one of the most influential doctors in this country and abroad. Your older brother chose the same medical speciality as your father. Why did you go for cardiology? Dr Farreras had a heart attack, when he was 42, if my memory serves me well. He was my tutor or mentor, and he told me that cardiology was a field he had not mastered as well as other areas, and that I could devote myself to it. This advice was absolutely transcendental in my career. What do you remember about the Barcelona of the 1960s, when you studied medicine at the University of Barcelona, or the Central University, as it was known then? ThemostpositivethingIrememberistheintellectualrelationshipwithsomecolleagues,suchasthephilosopher Eugenio Trías Sagnier, the architect Manuel de Solà-Morales and Agustí Arana. We held meetings like those of my father and his “gang”. And your brief spell at the Hospital Clínic, at the end of your training phase in Catalonia? There were some very good professors – three or four – but others just used their notes. I preferred books, for example, in English, and to my mind notes lacked intellectual ambition. I had some professors who were simply incapable of motivating their students. That was one of the reasons why I left Spain; I needed motivation. Dr Farreras helped me to get to the United Kingdom first, where medicine was more straightforward and less technical. Then I came back and set my sights on the United States, and there I stayed… Was it difficult to make it in the States? They made things very easy for me. I got some very good letters of recommendation from the United Kingdom BARCELONA METRÒPOLIS (Ajuntament de Barcelona). By Joaquim Elcacho, Science and environment journalist. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  8. 8. and was accepted at the Mayo Clinic. I had to start from scratch, but it was worth it. What is – or what was – so different between the research conducted in North America and in other parts of the world, not to mention Spain? Motivation. In the United States, people who work are given all kinds of support from day one. But it is a very demanding country: if you work there they will help you, although the level of demand becomes progressively higher… What are the current challenges in the cardiology field? The first major challenge is to go from treating diseases to promoting health. Prevention is crucial; developed countries spend vast amounts of money treating preventable diseases. Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in the world, since almost 40% of deaths are caused by these types of problems. We are facing an epidemic because of problems from being overweight, bad eating habits, smoking, lack of physical exercise and so forth. Prevention is of the essence, since at this rate it will be impossible to cope with the expenditure incurred in the treatment of disease. You mentioned other medical challenges… We need to make progress and relate studies on the heart and brain. A lot of progress is also being made in imaging technologies, genetics and tissue regeneration. Is it also very important that we know how to apply our knowledge to patients quickly. Finally, and more generally, we have to fulfil our social responsibility: doctors have a commitment to society that we cannot forget. Allow me to remind you of one of society’s great dreams: when will we be able to use stem cells to regenerate a heart damaged by a heart attack? Many teams all over the world are working with stem cells. The National Cardiovascular Research Centre in Madrid has several lines open in this field. This work will eventually yield positive results, but although part of society and many journalists always enquire about these types of solutions, I would like to emphasise the most effective way forward that we have is within reach: healthier lifestyles and habits. You attach particular importance to pre-school education, to the habits of younger children… The things a child learns at the age of four or five are transcendental for their adult life. Learning healthy eating habits and how to look after their body from a young age is something that will stay with them for many years. Tell us how the education campaign on healthy habits for children through the Sesame Street television series came about. At an expert meeting addressing the great problem of obesity in the United States, I voiced a critical opinion on the food industry. One of the managers from the Sesame Street production company approached me and we decided to work together. Now we are working on health education programmes with children from all over the world. Has the experience also been applied to Spain? The SHE Foundation and Sesame Workshop, with the support of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation, reached an agreement to produce a new Sesame StreetTV series in Spain. Last year, 26 episodes were broadcast, targeting children aged from three to six, in which nutrition, physical activity, knowledge of the body and heart and social and emotional well-being take centre stage. All the contents are prepared by a team of international and local experts in order to instil healthy and lifelong habits in youngsters. It is a series with great potential for expansion. This gave rise to the Foundation for Science, Health and Education project. Or are they different developments? We have many parallel programmes and actions in health education matters for people of different ages, and we saw the need to focus all this activity in a foundation that would be dedicated to working on the basis of scientific research with a view to promoting health through communication and education. The collaboration with Sesame Streetis part of the SHE Foundation’s projects. And how does your foundation’s other flagship project, dedicated to integral health, work? The SHE Foundation has implemented the SI! (Salut Integral!) [Integral Health!] programme, in which more than 11,000 boys and girls from 61 schools are currently participating. The idea is to go beyond obesity prevention, treating health in an all-encompassing way, through four basic and interrelated components: learning healthy eating habits; physical activity; knowing how our body works – particularly the heart; and managing emotions and promoting social responsibility as a protection factor against addictions and the consumption of substances such as tobacco and drugs. Your recipe for cardiovascular health is easy to recite and — for some people — hard to follow. Could you remind us of the basic ingredients of this recipe? Prevention is crucial. However, in general, if we want to know how to lead a healthier life, I would highlight three or four specific things: do physical exercise, avoid becoming overweight or obese, maintain a healthy blood pressure and refrain from smoking. Do you think that people don’t know these things? Now it is important to put them into practice. We used the word “recipe” previously, and you have written informative books, accompanied by experts and figures from many other fields, one of them being the prestigious chef Ferran Adrià. What do you remember about this particular collaboration? Ferran Adrià has made outstanding contributions to modern cuisine, and in recent years he has also evolved towards other fields, such as healthier and more accessible cooking. The collaboration in the book may seem paradoxical, because I, a researcher, talk about cooking, whereas Ferran Adrià, a chef, explores the world of
  9. 9. research. We both share a need, or a moral obligation, to go out there and explain important things, such as the easiest ways to prevent a heart attack or the basics of good nutrition. The journalist Josep Corbella managed to convey all this in the book. You manage research centres on both sides of the Atlantic and run top-level research lines all over the world, so how do you find the time to write books and spread science? I do it to contribute to the society that has given me so much. It is a gesture of responsibility. In the case of books, I have written with outstanding people such as Ferran Adrià, who we just mentioned, the psychiatrist Luis Rojas Marcos in Corazón y mente [Heart and Mind], and the writer and economist Jose Luis Sampedro in La ciencia y la vida [Science and Life]. I wrote the first book of this kind, La ciència de la salut [The Science of Health], in collaboration with the journalist Josep Corbella. In all cases I would like to emphasise that I have met highly motivated people strongly committed to society, although the fields they work in and their ways of thinking are different to my own. In any event, defend your field of work a little for us. Should society give scientific research greater recognition and invest in it more? It is evident that society does not properly acknowledge the work of researchers and the importance of science. Our future depends on important matters such as education and science, and citizens therefore must have a greater scientific culture, and research should be given major importance. In this regard, the media and journalists have an important role to play. You have to tell society that science fuels a country’s future. How do you see the future of scientific research in Spain in general and in Catalonia in particular? I am concerned. We have been working for years to push science forward and now there are great challenges and problems to overcome. In any case I hope that the positive line will continue. The National Cardiovascular Research Centre, sited in Madrid, but which is spreading all over Spain and abroad, works on many projects that lead to significant scientific progress and we aim to continue along this path. Catalonia is one of the European regions with top-quality researchers who engage in very good scientific research. Major cutbacks in the scientific research budget will only jeopardise the future. Have you ever missed working in medicine in Barcelona full-time? I have a very close relationship with Barcelona. I work on a great deal of projects related to research and health in the city and am delighted to be able to continue to do so. 2012 National Culture Award In Catalonia, Dr Valentí Fuster was awarded the 2012 National Culture Award, in the Thought and Scientific Culture category, for “his contributions to biomedicine in the cardiovascular field and untiring commitment to promoting social awareness in order to improve health by means of disease prevention,” according to the awards panel, which is given by the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CoNCA). Born in Barcelona on 20 January, 1943, Fuster holds a degree in medicine from the University of Barcelona and honorary degrees from some 30 universities all over the world. He began his career as a cardiologist in Edinburgh (United Kingdom) and settled in the United States in 1972. He lectured in medicine and cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Medical School in Minnesota and at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and was Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston from 1991 to 1994. He has authored almost a thousand scientific articles and two of the most prestigious books at international level on clinical cardiology and research, and his work has had a great impact in helping to improve the treatment of patients with cardiac illnesses. His research into the origin of cardiovascular accidents has earned him the most major awards from four of the world’s four major cardiology organisations, including the 2012 American Heart Association (AHA) Research Achievement Award. In 1996 he received the Prince of Asturias Research Award. J.E. First published in: Barcelona Metròpolis (Ajuntament de Barcelona) Photo: Valentí Fuster, by Pere Virgili (Barcelona Metròpolis)
  10. 10. Articles by scientists from Catalan institutions are the 4th most cited by Nature and Science Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 The Observatori de la Recerca de l’Institut d’Estudis Catalans (Observatory for Research of the Institute for Catalan Studies) has conducted a bibliometric analysis of articles published between 2001-2012 in Nature and Science, considered the two leading scientific journals in the world, with the aim of evaluating the impact of Catalan scientific work. One of the main conclusions is that the articles by scientists from Catalan institutions are the fourth most cited in the world in these publications (2.68 citations), just behind South Korea (3.41), Russia (2.84) and Finland (2.69). In addition, quantitatively speaking, the number of scientific articles from Catalan institutions published in both prestigious journals increased significantly in those 12 years. In particular, there has been an increase from 50 documents between 2001-2004 (0.23 % of the total), to 97 in the 2005-2008 period (0.46%), and then to 173 in the 2009-2012 period (0.83 %), moving from the 27th position in the rankings, to the 22nd and the 18th , respectively. If one calculates the number of published papers per million inhabitants, the results are even better, as Catalonia has moved from 20th place in the 2001-2004 period with 7.9 articles, to 14th in the 2009-2012 period with 23.1 papers per million inhabitants, a figure higher than France, Germany, Finland or Spain. First published in: Barcelona Metròpolis (Ajuntament de Barcelona) Photo by Barcelona Metròpolis BARCELONA METRÒPOLIS (Ajuntament de Barcelona). By Joaquim Elcacho, Science and environment journalist. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  11. 11. Five Catalans among the world’s 400 best biomedical scientists Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 The European Journal of Clinical Investigation has analyzed the biomedical research work of 15,000 scientists from around the world. They have created a ranking based on the number of articles published by each scientist between 1996 and 2011 and the number of times that each of these articles is cited or mentioned by other researchers. Once they had finished these calculations, they published the list of 400 best biomedical scientists in the world. The results can be seen here in alphabetical order. Interesting aspects to highlight: 1. Among the 400 scientists, there are five Catalans: Valentí Fuster, Joan Masagué, Josep Baselga, Carles Cordón-Cardó and Manel Esteller. There is also one Spaniard, Gabriel Núñez, from Seville. 2. Four of the five Catalans work on cancer-related issues. The exception is Valentí Fuster, who is a cardiologist. 3. The majority of the scientists work in the United States. This includes four of the five Catalans (Fuster and Cordón-Cardó work at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center and Masagué and Baselga work at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center). 4. The university with the most researchers in the top-400 is Harvard (my alma mater). 5. The city with the most researchers in the top-400 is Boston, followed by New York (four of the five Catalans work in New York). 6. The most-cited researcher is the Japanese Shizuo Akira from the University of Osaka. 7. And finally, I am honored to say that I am a personal friend of four of the 400 best researchers in the world. Moreover, I am a close friend of one of them, Carles Cordón-Cardó, who is not only friend but also someone who treated me recently. First published in: Xavier Sala-i-Martín website’s. Photo: Xavier Sala-i-Martín website’s. Xavier Sala-i-Martín seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  12. 12. “In particular Catalonia has done very well” Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 March Helga Nowotny, President of the ERC She is the president of the European Research Council (ERC). Helga Nowotny is a distinguished scholar in scien- ce studies. Her impeccable academic work, her sensitivity to issues concerning the relationship between science and society and her profound knowledge of the European re- search landscape has turned her into a much sought after advisor in science policies. In particular after retiring from her chair from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich in 2002 she has become more and more involved in shaping the research policy of the European Union. The ERC starts its fourth year. Which countries did parti- cularly well in acquiring grants? And why? So far the results of the calls confirm by and large the known stren- gths and weaknesses. It is interesting to note that among the large countries Great Britain and among the small ones Switzerland are the clear winners. Both countries are very open and highly interna- tionalized with respect to their research. This becomes evident if we look at the fact that many of the grants for these countries went to researchers that were not British respectively Swiss. All in all we see a clear correlation between the number of ERC grants rewarded and the spending on R&D in the individual countries. How would you explain this? Obviously there has to be a certain level of infrastructure in basic research and with respect to the working conditions. At the same time it is good news that in particular the new member states have understood the message. Some of them undertook impressive efforts to catch up. Europe still has many scientific talents that we do not make enough use of. How would you judge Spain’s “performance” with respect to procuring ERC grants? In particular Catalonia has done very well. Yet it is also true that there are only two “ERC hot spots” in Spain, Madrid and Barcelona. I can only guess why that is so. In Catalonia there has been a continuous and long-term investment in research and in particular in talented researchers. The region has opened itself internationally in an exemplary way and that pays off. Catalonia fits the pattern of the two big “winners” of the ERC grants, Great Britain and Switzerland. “Frontier science” is international, yet at the same time science focuses on certain places that are conducive to scientific creativity. This is the case for Barcelona. Where do you see deficits in Spanish research and in research policy? Spain should pursue a research policy that creates real competition. This should be accompanied by a fair and independent evaluation. In particular with respect to basic research, the political will to continue to invest must persevere. One cannot increase and then decrease the funding in a field that is long-term in its outlook and vision. Particularly in times of crisis there are good arguments why investments for the future are decisive. I wish the Spanish research policy the courage to do so – and to have the necessary stamina. Scientific curiosity yields many fruits but the conditions have to be right. So far only about 15 percent of the applicants have received funding from the ERC. How many of those who were not awarded a grant would the ERC have liked to fund? Provided we have the budget I could imagine that we can go up to 20 percent without renouncing the slightest bit on our high standards of quality. Looking at the applications: where do you see the strengths and weaknesses of European basic research? And is it conceivable that the ERC will counter-steer, e.g. by allocating more funding to certain areas? The ERC will remain faithful to the principle of “bottom-up”. We are convinced that the individual researchers know best where the new hot spots in science are. Basic research is and will remain a risky business. This is the only way to gain new knowledge. Soon we will celebrate the 1000th ERC grant. Even if it is too early to resume the results of the research funded: the dynamic of the development of science will be mirrored in the ERC grants. [...] You can read the full article, here: ports/3266/In-particular-Catalonia-has-done-very-well.html First published in: Global Talent News Photo: March Helga Nowotny Global Talent News. Oliver Hochadel and Klaus Taschwer seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  13. 13. Catalonia leads Spain in quality scientific research Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 Research carried out in Catalonia is on the le- vel of countries such as Canada and Finland. It also enjoys a significant international impact and comes at an average cost of between 10%- 15% less than research in the community of Madrid. These results are among the findings of the latest report on bibliometric indicators of scientific activity in Catalonia (2003-2008), published by Scimago, comparing scientific activity in Catalonia with the rest of Spain. Catalonia won the battle of quality while Madrid came out ahead in quantity. The publication of the latest study on Bibliometric indicators of scientific activity in Catalonia (2003-2008), by the Scimago research group, highlights the good health of science in the au- tonomous community. Catalonia is in second place in Spain in terms of scientific production, behind the ca- pital, while it stands as a leader as far as the international impact of its scientific research. Although there are still goals to be met, the satisfaction of Catalan researchers is evident. “We’re heading in the right direction, despite not having reached the 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on research and innovation this year,” said Lluís Rovira, assistant to the General Directorate for Research and Director of the Evaluation and Research Analysis Area of Talència. “The assessment of the Scimago report is largely positive, because it does not indicate a temporary rise, but rather steady growth,” he added. The data indicates that Catalonia generated 26.6% of Spain’s scientific production between 2003 and 2008, exceeded only by Madrid, which accumulated 35.5%, and ahead of Andalusia, which produced 15 %. A question of quality But what makes Rovira the proudest is not so much the rise in publications (Catalonia has gone from 8,269 publications in 2003 to 14,781 in 2008, an increase of 78%) but the impact of scientific articles written and signed in Catalonia. “In international impact we are first in Spain,” he said. During the six years evaluated Catalonia scored an international scientific impact of 1.4 points, which “indi- cates that the output produced in Catalonia is quoted 40% more than the world average,” the study says. “It is an indicator that measures research centers and groups, in which 1 means that the research center is at the same level as the global average in that area, while more than 1 indicates that it is above the world average and less than 1 it is below,” explained Rovira. In this case the Balearic Islands and Aragón completed the podium, while Madrid, despite being home to some of the Spain’s most powerful research centers, ranks fourth with an international scientific impact of 1.19 points. “These data correspond to a combination of several elements,” said Rovira. On the one hand, there is the “the recruitment of talent through the ICREA Program,” a project established by former Councilor Andreu Mas- Colell in 2001, “which has given an important boost toward generating the synergies necessary to achieve a satisfactory level of scientific achievement.” And secondly, there is “the creation of research centers and go- vernment policy,” said Rovira, also following a strategy pioneered by Mas-Colell. Thus Catalonia has built in recent years “a very unique system” where “what is happening here is a smaller version of what has happened until now in the U.S.” Catalonia has become attractive to scientists from around the world. 2007 was the year in which Catalonia made its biggest international impact with 1.49 points, second in the six-year period studied only to the Balearic Islands’ 1.65 points in 2005. “The economic crisis was not felt in the current indicators, but it will appear in the coming years,” said Rovira, who nevertheless believes that, “Ca- talonia still lacks the financing needed to finish lining up the indicators and enhance its investigation.” “When our system is established, there will be a stagnation of scientific production, but then we will focus more on quality,” he predicted. [...] You can read the full article, here: ports/5266/Catalonia-leads-Spain-in-quality-scientific-research.html First published in: Global Talent News Photo: Global Talent News Global Talent News. Ànnia Monreal seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  14. 14. Barcelona’s Institute of Photonic Sciences is ranked first in the world in the fields of physics and astronomy Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 Barcelona (ACN).- On Friday, it was made public that a number of Catalan research institutions and univer- sities have been praised among the best in the world in their category in a survey carried out by Excellence Mapping. The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), based in Greater Barcelona, was ranked first in the world in the fields of physics and astronomy. The institute’s Director, Lluís Torner, celebrated this mi- lestone with the CNA and stated that it is “exceptional” that they were awarded first place. He went on to ex- plain that the classification is as a result of “research done by the ICFO that has a global impact”, and the Director assured that they achieved this due to the work “of very competent people in many areas”. This ranking, done by Excellence Mapping, which sorts the world’s leading universi- ties and research centres according to their achievements in 17 areas of academia. Numerous other Catalan institutions were recognised in the survey. The Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) was placed third in the world for physics and astronomy, while the Institute for High Energy and Physics (IFAE) came 18th. The Universitat Autònoma of Bar- celona (UAB) and the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (UPC) were also included. Torner praised the other Catalan based research institutes and centres and stated that these results illustrate how the Catalan model of research is “highly competitive”. The Excellence Mapping survey has sorted together global research institutions and universities and ranked them according to their performance in a total of 17 different specific subject areas. Only institutions that have published at least 500 articles, conference papers or reviews in a certain scientific subject areas between 2005 and 2011 are included in the list. Excellence Mapping has ordered the survey according to the number of highly-cited papers that each has in their field. In this respect, only precise parts of each institution and centre’s performance are taken into account. Catalonia: A world leader in specific areas of scientific research The ICFO is located in the UPC’s Campus of Castelldefels, near Barcelona El Prat Airport. The ICFO Director, Torner, has acknowledged that all centres in Spain have “serious financial problems”, but pointed out that the situation in Catalonia is better because they are able to attract investment from overseas. For example, for every Euro that the Spanish public sector invests in the ICFO, the centre receives double from international investment, especially coming from other parts of Europe. “We are in a difficult situation but we have many international resources so we may continue operating at a normal rate”, stated Torner. In spite of the economic situation, he emphasises how many young researchers chose Catalonia as it is home to “cutting edge research”. The success, according to him, is due to the research model that exists and the people that are working there. First published in: Catalan News Agency Photo: Catalan News Agency Catalan News Agency (CNA). seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  15. 15. Permanent blackmail Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 21/03/2014 Since the approval of the Plan of the Ebro Basin, it seems that the problem is just about the environmental flows and the hectares of irrigated land, or what is essentially the same thing, a clash between the people living in the delta and the rest of the farmers of the Ebro Basin. We are continuously seeing statements from the left and the right that say that if there is more environmental flow then it will be impossible to irrigate the fields upstream, or even in the Ebro delta itself. Faced with this perspective, it is logical that an irrigation farmer from Lleida, Aragon, Navarra or the delta would say, “I need to water because my income and my family depend on this irrigation, and in the end, if the delta is healthy, this does not put food on the table”. The problem isn’t the existing irrigation, although it could certainly be improved, the problem is the eternal promises of more and more irrigated land and infrastructures. The farmer/ irrigator is painted a picture of an ideal world, where irrigation solves the historical instability of agriculture, and especially the problem of dry land. Nonetheless, no one talks about the cost, not only of the infrastructures (dams and canals), which up until now we citizens have been paying for with our taxes, but also the cost of the exploitation, energy, the changes in land use, the change of markets, etc… When you look at irrigation projects and when you see how the economic viability of such projects is justified, you can find some surprises (or big lies!). One example that is not far from home is that of the Xerta-Sénia, according to the ER99906: ADEQUACY OF THE PROJECT OF THE AWARDING OF THE CANAL XERTA-SÉNIA IN THE PLAN OF THE EBRO BASIN created in 1999, the production of citrus fruits was estimated to be between 20,000-25,000 kg / year and the net return was estimated to be around 500,000 pts (pesetas)/ hc (hectometer). To achieve this economic performance, the average price of a kilogram of citrus fruits had to be around € 0.75 / kg. It is obvious that today’s reality has nothing to do with this net return of € 3,000 /hc that was mentioned in the project 15 years ago. This is what has been happening in all of the new irrigation projects. The reality that they set out on paper to trick the local farmers has nothing to do with the reality that they will find at the moment of truth. These large projects are often presented in such a way that it overwhelms most farmers, who only receive the message that these projects will help them prosper and will allow them to make a decent living. And what happens at the moment of truth? Two things can happen: the first, just like what happened during prosperous times in the past, is that it becomes easy to get big loans and mortgage yourself for life. The second, which we are seeing today, is that it is becoming impossible to find farmers to carry out these projects, which is what is happening with the Xerta-Sénia and the Segarra-Garrigues or the Navarra Canal. Both situations are pretty damn lousy because they have generated false expectations of economic development, which is why in the end farmers live in constant economic agony. This constant agony is what makes the land of small farmers become part of large agribusiness. We have seen this with the exploitation of the Valencian citrus fruits, and in the Segarra-Garrigues they are seeing this happen as investors are appearing from as far away as the Persian Gulf, but that would be the subject of a completely different, and lengthy, article. If we moved to a larger scale, to the level of irrigation communities, something similar happens. In irrigation communities people consider development plans for Pharaonic irrigation systems that require major pipeline construction work and regulation. In this latest plan, there should be some 445,000 Hc (hectares) of new irrigated land to be developed up until 2015 (!?) that will be added to the 965,000 that have already been created in the last 100 years. One doesn’t have to be an expert on the matter to see that no one has the money, the time, or the technical skills to create 445,000 hectares of new irrigated land in less than 2 years. But this is how it is laid out in the Plan, despite people from collectives like the Platform [in defense of the Ebro] having told them that it would be impossible and that they would have to at least adjust the deadline to be minimally credible. During the vote at the latest Water Council meeting of the Demarcación del Ebro, all the irrigation farmers voted in favor of the Plan, not because they considered it to be correct, but because it would lead to the construction of dams and canals and other similar works. Someone even went a step further and made another more or less veiled threat that for the next plan that had to be approved in 2015, if the “works” were not completed then the irrigation farmers would not vote in favor of this new plan. I am quite sure that when it comes to the next Plan they will find themselves in the same situation and saying the same thing, “our vote is affirmative but you have to promise us construction and more construction.” Construction works that they never start, or if they do, with an astonishing slowness, often because they are well aware that what they are constructing is unnecessary and not economically or socially viable. An entire agricultural sector is being permanently blackmailed. These farmers have the legitimate right to want a better development, but not in exchange for alms. In this latest plan things are a bit more complicated. Given that we are at a time of almost zero public investment and most predict that it will continue this way for a number of years, large investments will be made through the private initiatives of the great lobbying groups (the everyday farmer will be nothing more than a pawn on a chessboard, completely expendable), this is why the Plan includes these 445,000 hectares of new irrigated land, or better said, this is why the plan reserves the main part of the river water to irrigate 10,800 Hm3/year Susanna Abella Codorniu.
Member of the Plataforma en defensa de l’Ebre (Platform in Defense of the Ebro) seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  16. 16. of the 13,900 Hm3/year that are available. These hectares will never be built, but they will be used instead as a way to commercialize the water rights/concessions associated with these hectares. The irrigation communities will sell part of their water in exchange for money to carry out the infrastructure works that they had been promised a long time ago. The Environmental Assessment Law, recently approved, includes the legal structures necessary to do this without having to cause an uproar with water transfer proposals. The word “transfer” will not be used, this time the irrigation communities will carry out “exchanges of water rights” instead of money. Here it seems that business will be brisk and will benefit everyone (except the river!). But experience is the mother of all sciences and here in the Terres de l’Ebre we already have enough to deal with if we look at the small water transfer to the Camp de Tarragona, which was supposed to be the solution to all the Delta’s problems. Today, the money from the sale of the water has not even remained in the territory and the works, those eternal construction works, are only half completed. Susanna Abella Codorniu.
Member of the Plataforma en Defensa de l’Ebre (Platform in Defense of the Ebro) - See more at: First published in Plataforma en Defensa de l’Ebre’s website.
  17. 17. Manolo Tomàs: ‘They want to force us to adopt a new water transfer model’ Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 28/03/2013 Interview with the spokesperson for the Platform in Defense of the Ebro river · Sunday there will be a demonstration in the delta. Many will be retrieving it from their closets and many others have already gone out and bought it again. Regardless, the blue shirt with a white knot, which for thirteen years thousands of citizens have worn to protest the Spanish government’s Hydrological Plan, willbeseenagainthisSunday.ThePlatforminDefense of the Ebro (PDE) has organized a demonstration that will go from Sant Jaume d’Enveja (Montsià) to Deltebre (Baix Ebre) with the slogan ‘an Ebro that does not flow means the death of the delta.” This time, the local population has mobilized itself once again to block the Hydrological Plan of the Ebro Basin that was approved by the Spanish government. They warn of the danger to the delta, to people’s health and to the economy of the region. We talked more about it with the spokesperson of the PDE, Manolo Tomàs. Will the people of the delta mobilize themselves like in 2001?
 There is a lot of expectation that they will. In the Terres de l’Ebre people seem keen to demonstrate. And outside of the Terres de l’Ebre we have never had as much political support as we do now. It is the first time in the history of this social movement that all the political parties –with the sole exception of the PP— have supported the demonstration. We don’t know how big it will be, but the only ones that are not going to officially show up at the demonstration are the PP. The people’s support can be seen by the number of t-shirts with the knot on them that are being sold once again. If the weather holds up, we could see a significant demonstration in the delta. Now you can also count on the support of the Catalan government, which has been against the plan from the beginning. The government is against the hydrological plan and has been in frequent contact with the PDE. This is much appreciated, because it is something else that is new. The Generalitat has chosen an active stance, and we hope it continues and we will see how far it goes, but it is much appreciated. What are some of the dangers that the Hydrological Plan poses to the Ebro Basin?
 The most significant one is that it limits the amount of water that reaches the mouth of the river: the flow of water that is destined to reach the mouth of the delta is insufficient, and the flow of sediments will be non-existent. This means that no practical measures will be taken to stop the regression of the delta and that, in addition, there will not be enough force to stop salt water from moving continuously upstream. This will happen because an additional 450,000 new hectares of irrigated land have been added to the one million hectares that were already there, and 490 large dams will be added to the 120 that already exist, which is a significant amount of water retention. There is little downward flow into the mouth of the river, and this endangers the stability of the delta. It is also harmful to the ecological development of the Terres de L’Ebre: it lowers the water quality and affects agriculture, whether it be the rice fields, the fisheries, or aquaculture. It is a plan that is does harm both environmentally and socio-economically. It appears that the plan has divided farmers in the delta from those in the rest of the Ebro basin…
 The farmers are one matter and those with water irrigation rights, another. The irrigation communities vote by number of hectares. This means that you can come across a community of thousands of farmers on small plots of land, and a handful of farmers on hundreds of hectares who control the board by number of votes. The opinions of the boards of irrigation organizations should not be confused with the opinions of the farmers working the land who have water irrigation rights. The Hydrological Plan of the Basin introduces 450,000 new hectares of irrigation, and this allows the irrigation communities to sell the hectares that are not being used. This is the latest change, approved after a legislative amendment by the Spanish government from last year, which establishes that an irrigation community that doesn’t use a water grant can sell it. This would be the new water transfer model they want to impose upon us: instead of it being the state, through a law, which collects water directly from the river and does what it had planned to do in the year 2000, now they want to obtain the water from the so-called ‘agricultural surpluses’ of the irrigation communities. Therefore, it would be very easy for some irrigation communities –but not all of them— to see a business opportunity in the purchase and sale of water, in the commercialization of the river water. But it is important to point out that the positions of the boards of the irrigation communities do not necessarily represent the opinion of the inhabitants of the Terres de l’Ebre. In fact, many of these irrigation farmers do not even live in the delta. And it is important to differentiate between farmers and irrigators: an irrigator can be a hydroelectric power plant. Vilaweb seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  18. 18. If the Plan is given a green light, what could happen to the Ebro? 
 The entire direction of the river would change, as it would become an estuary. This means that the salt water would become permanent within the riverbed. This is already happening today, and the salt water goes some ten to twenty kilometers upriver. With the plan, the salt water would stretch some forty kilometers inland, all the way to Tortosa. The damage to the agricultural land would be significant, but also to the aquifers, which means it would affect people’s health. This plan was devised and approved according to political criteria for water use, without taking any scientific or technical criteria into account, and least of all the environmental deterioration of the last section of the river, which is the delta, an area that we would like to remind everyone is a place that is the object of very serious measures of international protection. What do you expect to happen at Sunday’s demonstration? That the weather will cooperate, and that there will be a significant number of people from the Ebro territory that come out to show how the people living here feel about this issue. And we would really like for there to be a significant representation of people from outside the Terres de l’Ebre, because we understand this to be a problem that goes against the territorial integrity of Catalonia. In addition, we guarantee that it will be a demonstration that is firm, solid and, as they all are, fun, family-oriented and with a lot of good music. What are the PDE’s next steps against the plan?
 This will depend a great deal on Arias Cañete’s calendar. The plan has already been approved, but it is accompanied by two more measures: a large water deal and the drawing up of a Spanish hydrological plan at the end of the year, which will specify the details of a plan that has generated a great deal of confusion. The PDE is organizing itself in accordance with this calendar, and the subsequent actions will be of a more technical and legal nature: we will go to the High Court and the European Commission. First published in Vilaweb. Photo: Manolo Tomàs, by Vilaweb.
  19. 19. The river is life Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 06/03/2014 “With [Catalan] independence, the Ebro would become an international river, subject to the authority of various states and the Spanish state would no longer be able to decide everything alone, as it has up until today”. Once again, that same Spanish minister that promised that his mandate’s projects would proceed thanks to that traditional method of “por cojones!”[because I say so, dammit!], is at it again. And the victim, once again, is the Terres de l’Ebre, a territory that, throughout history, has lived with the sense of feeling neglected, forgotten, and far-removed from administrative bodies that they perceived as distant, whether they were provincial, national, or on the state or European level. With the first attack, however, the Terres de l’Ebre organized itself and the blue knot of the anti-water transfer was the distinctive sign of a people that was awakening and that would end up becoming, unquestionably, a recognizable civic body. That model of social mobilization, with roots that go back to the historic Marcellinism, was the precursor of later movements, with a variety of colors that indicated the nuances of each struggle: blue, yellow, green… that included people from all generations, classes and diverse in terms of democratic ideology. The movement, without a doubt, will end up making it easier to structure the Terres de l’Ebre, within the administrative structure of the Generalitat, while awaiting the promised vegueria that never appears. The first attempt at the poorly named National Hydrological Plan, which was not a plan, not hydrological and not national, was hiding a giant financial operation of special interests for certain companies linked to the ruling political party. What the Delta and the rest of the Catalan Ebro need are not more covert business operations, disguised as water solutions, but support for the economic activity connected to a development model that respects the territory and its people: a certain type of industry, a specific type of tourism, etc. The irresponsibility of the PP has fanned the flames of a war over water between territories, the most primitive form of animosity and confrontation between neighbors, but they could care less if this will help them win votes. In addition, many experts believe that it is not necessary to expand irrigated areas that follow the river along its course, but instead just the opposite: reduce them. It is the only way to halt the regression of the Delta –alarming if we look at old photos and maps—and at the same time, avoid the progressive salinization, due to the seawater penetrating upstream, which has made it possible to catch species that are typically found in the open sea as far upstream as Amposta. In the Ebro, the trains have to reduce their speed because the double track disappears for some forty kilometers and merges into a single lane, on which travel freight and passenger trains, up and down, each one waiting for the other to end its route. The free highway, coming from the north, stops at l’Hospitalet de l’Infant and doesn’t go any further south into the Terres de l’Ebre. And the one that comes from Valencia, to the south, stops at Vilanova d’Alcolea, and goes no further than that. The stretch from l’Hospitalet to Castelló is one of the worst stretchs of the road network, due to its heavy circulation and lack of agility in the traffic flow, which sends the traffic through the center of several municipalities, like in the past. The so-called national road, usually clogged with traffic, is everything except national, and even more so now that the economic crisis is a factor that dissuades many from taking the highway with tolls and from taking the natural course between Catalonia and Valencia. To give oxygen to the Terres de l’Ebre, from north to south, widening the C-12 and the 240 that goes to Aragon would be essential measures to provide a more sensible way to export what is produced in this territory and the circulation of passengers, because the infrastructure in place is punishing these lands. Transport and communication infrastructure are one of the essential factors for a national coordination in modern society. And the large construction works, in this area, are not decided in either Barcelona or Valencia, but in Madrid. And in Madrid there is no interest in facilitating a natural, agile, and normal relationship between Valencia and Catalonia, but instead quite the opposite. This is why there are good and fast connections by train and by highway between Madrid and Valencia, and the connections are so poor between Valencia and Barcelona. This is why one can travel several times a day by high-speed train between the Spanish and the Catalan capitals, but not from Barcelona to Valencia and vice versa. Everything is designed so that we have to go through them, rapidly and with ease, but not because we already do the same amongst ourselves. I am convinced that today, if the Delta is attacked again, it will once again be attacked on a social level as well. And, in this struggle, the Terres de l’Ebre will not be as alone as they were the first time. Now they have the rest of the country’s solidarity behind them, which was the same solidarity we saw when gaps needed to be filled in the Catalan Way. With independence, the Ebro would become an international river, subject to the authority of several states and Spain will no longer be able to decide everything alone, as it has up until today. The Catalan state will also make its voice heard have its interests respected. Let’s hope this happens soon….! First published in Nació Digital Photo: Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira - Nació Digital seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  20. 20. Identities and the Glocal World Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 It appears nowadays as if modernity, the familiar commitment to individual freedom and equality, has cre- ated a barrier to the acceptance of new demands from cultural, ethnic and national minorities within liberal democracies, which see their identities becoming diluted or their differences homogenized. For some we are witnessing a unique, uniform conception of globalization that aims to impose a single way of life, a single pattern of consumption and even a single means of communication. However, struggles in favour of the recognition of identities are merely the flipside of globalization. Integra- tion efforts are offset by the energy countries invest in maintaining their own cultural peculiarities. With this in mind, a statement made by the Austrian- born American management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker makes more sense: ‘The more transnational the world becomes, the more tribal it will therefore also be’. In a globalized world, the proponents of democracy must accept the challenge of combining equality and divergence, since the ‘truth’ of cultural and national minorities is not easy to deny: it is not possible to conceive of personal free- dom on the margins of a particular and historical culture, which provides us with a language and a framework that allows us to understand the meaning of the life choices that are available. Nowadays, the defence of cultural identity, in all its varieties (national minorities, ethnic groups, immigrants, indigenous peoples, feminist collectives, the disabled and so on) therefore requires new forms of intercultural dialogue and the permanent political recognition of the rights or status of the members of certain groups: language rights, self-determination or broad regional autonomy, political representation, their presence in the school curriculum, territorial rights, respect for national symbols and official celebrations, the implementation of immigration policies and so on. The ethics of the difference thereby becomes a valid response to the challenges of the future in which cultural identity represents the anchor point needed to counteract the potential homogenization resulting from globalization and in which the demographic changes which we undergo will further encourage migration and cultural pluralism. While the world seems to move towards integration, while capital markets become unified and so do the habits of a certain group of cosmopoli- tan nomads (business people, politicians, tourists, journalists, researchers, etc.) there is also an awakening of consciousness of the identity of peoples and groups that have formed nation-states who have often lived under the guise of an invented or imposed uniformity. A number of these resurgences of unique identities (such as certain religious fundamentalism and certain ethnic nationalism) will presumably mean a return to pre-modern forms of belonging. Nevertheless, many of today’s expressions of multiculturalism which call for the right to be different, whether from women’s groups, migrants, stateless nations, religious and linguistic minorities or indigenous minority groups, actually represent a democratic (and postmodern) challenge to the old straightjacket of the modern liberal nation-state and the globalizing logic of the economy itself. In opposition to the logic of mobility one sees evidence of the logic of identity. In the words of Vicente Verdú, ‘mobility, movement and lightness suit the market, but for the community roots are key, the bulk of their memory, the weight of their tradition. Indeed, the market favours fluidity, exchange, barter, while human societies need the strength and solidity of their symbols’. The same whirlwind that accelerates the integration and mix of cultures, information and consumption also causes the fear of a loss of identity, the defensive retreat to nonnegotiable fundamental categories and the reaffirmation of their own cultural tradition. The unification of the world highlights the struggle within cultures and societies to (re)define their identity. This attitude is not only (or at least solely) about the desire to continue to (relentlessly) maintain our cultural traits, but also about updating and verbalizing (out of a sense of bewilderment) what we are and what we can be: What does it mean to be a citizen nowadays? Do we need one or multiple identities? Will these identities be compatible? Thanks to these recent changes, nation-states are forced to abandon their outmoded claims to be a homogenous unit. Instead they must recognize that they in fact shelter a plural association in which different cultural communities aspire to come together to participate in the exercising of power without becoming diluted by conforming to a common mould. The public space and the institutions must combine, both when it comes to protecting the right to equality (political, before the law, of opportunity) and the right to be different. Between total market mobility and defensive, pre-modern, identity fundamentalism we must learn to devise new, more complex forms of identity, together with new ways of receiving and integrating the ‘other’. Nowadays, urban and social mobility, cultural changes and historical events, the abandoning of roles and the adoption of new ones, means the cultural link between historical tradition and community loyalty is weakened. This is because human identity is now more open. The new pluralist frame-work, which affects every Western country if not others, means that our identities are becoming more and more complex. The fact that in the contemporary world we tend to build complex identities, in an ideal world allows us to envision shared loyalties, thanks to the practice of cultural pluralism. Àngel Castiñeira - Catalan International View seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter IN DEPTH
  21. 21. Nevertheless, despite such observations of new liberalization processes, modernization and increased mobil- ity we should not fall into an overly-simplistic view of cosmopolitanism. We should remember that intercultural exchanges are infrequent, difficult and often expensive. Instead, we are talking about greater interaction and porosity between cultures. We can belong to several communities and places simultaneously, we can use different languages to communicate, we can try to reconcile different traditions, we can even practice a degree of ‘cultural DIY ’. Multiple forms of belonging lead us to exercise flexible and adaptable relations with the various communities with which we maintain ties. What seems difficult to accept, however, is that the price for an alleged universalism or cosmopolitanism is the blurring of one’s own unique identity. In order for there to be intercultural dialogue and respect for differences, first there must be recognition of the right to exist, to have one’s own identity, language, shared values and symbolism. One must not only aspire to ‘maintain’ it in the present, but to be able to creatively convey it to future generations. Cultural and national identities are not satisfied with affirmative action which seeks to temporarily right the injustices committed against them or the effects of inequality. Instead, peoples and cul- tural communities aspire to reaffirm their permanent existence and the reproduction and transmission of their characteristics. This new ‘glocal’ framework and the new context of cultural pluralism require us to practice far more complex combinations, combinations, dare I say, that are two-way. We are to respect the cultural differentiation of those who are identical (to us) and we are to recognize and, where appropriate, encourage the possibility of the identification with those who are different (who live with or wish to live with us). We are entering a new and far more complex conception of identity. Globalization, Internet 2.0, the pos- sibilities of communication, allow us to further experiment with the idea of having more than one identity. We can have composite identities, multiple belongings, negotiations between differ- ent life choices, and so on. An increase in the number of life choices can even enable us to construct a modular identity. This implies, in my opinion, the greatest challenge to the future definition of ourselves. To be able to speak of ‘us’ requires us having something in common. If the individual option is to have radically differentiated lives, then the question posed in the title of a book by sociologist Alain Touraine, ‘Can We Live Together?’ becomes crucial. Because in order to live together, even though we are very different, we have to have something in common. With glocalization we must learn to combine the global and the local, which I call the wings and the roots. We can and must be parochial and cosmopolitan. What we cannot be is one without the other. Rootless cos- mopolitanism is, in essence, emptiness, an uprooting. Rootless cosmopolitanism does not exist: I can be a citizen of the world when I know where I am, where I was formed, what my culture is. Then I am able to identify myself and interact with others. The danger is that the combination of the global and the local, which is now termed ‘glocal’, also creates tensions. When, thanks to globalization, one is afraid of losing the local, the identity, one protects ones integrity and can thereby become a fundamentalist. If the one were completely open to the tsunami of globalization would possibly sweep them away in its path. Such issues are pertinent nowa- days: globalization provides us with opportunities, ways of life and different identities, but in combination with the local it can be reinforced or explosive. Benjamin Barber published a book en titled Jihad vs. McWorld. What does he mean by this? That in the world there is a tension between the two models: the McWorld is the McDonaldsized world where everything can be bought and sold, where the world is a commodity. In this world identities are afraid of losing. Then we jihadize ourselves, we close in on ourselves. Barber argues that the global and the local are not two different things: they are two sides of the same coin. The more global we become, the more need we have for localism, and if the two are not combined in a balanced way it can lead to incredibly violent outcomes. In an approximate and inevitably inexact way we could say that all Western countries are already multicultural. In other words, in a peaceful and tolerant way, most of them practice living with diversity rather than simple coexistence: individuals are not treated as mere or exclusive carriers of collective identities (in practice this would imply the dangerous exercise of a certain form of collectivism) but rather are treated as autonomous personalities with the ability to freely define their identity and their goals. Aside from a few exceptions, there are no restrictions to their freedom or any kind of oppression in the name of certain values of particular groups or lifestyles. In any case, there is no more ‘oppression’ than that imposed by any liberal-democratic authority on any of its citizens in order to obtain strict compliance of their basic civic duties. It is likely, therefore, that this differentiation of identities will continue fluctuating, on one hand between the legitimate institutional strengthening and encouragement towards those forms of behaviour that constitute the ‘lowest common denominators of coexistence’ and on the other, between institutional non-resistance to the modulation and testing of alternative life choices by individuals, and the fact that they can benefit from life chances, in the new framework of globalization, arising from interaction with and/or learning about other cultures. Glocalization and business The cultural challenges which the glocal condition poses for peoples and communities also affect companies. We know that the new globalization goes further than internationalization (trade and relations between countries and states) or multinationalization (the strategies of transferring and outsourcing resources in the search for higher productivity and profitability). It is now more common to speak of a transnationalization of economic, social and political relations. Economic, financial and production relations are developed on a global scale and the actors involved conceive and develop their strategies while taking as a reference the global system. Interactions and interconnections are intensified and so too are interdependencies. Consequently, a new business model emerges that shapes company strategies on a global scale. For some, this represents the beginning of the end of national systems and the final uprooting of the old local dimension. The economic sphere appears as a non-national, global space. Globalization is carried out by multinational corporations integrated into global systems of large corporations, often obey- ing a logic which runs counter to national interests. They operate under the banner of global capitalism. However, the global geo-economy (the strug- gle for global economic hegemony) is not disputed by companies but rather the national economies
  22. 22. of the most developed countries. Nation states continue to act according to the logic of national capitalism. In the dispute between global and national capitalism, some companies question whether it is better to be a local/ national company or a non-national/global one. As was demonstrated by E. Luttwak (1998) geo-economically active states encourage ‘their’ companies and oppose, if not actively boycotting, rival foreign companies. Restrictions on imports, export subsidies, funding for competitive technology projects, the promotion of infrastructure of strategic importance for the economy, trade tariffs, hidden trade barriers, endless lists of requirements (health and safety, labelling, packaging and recycling) are all part of the arsenal states use in the battle of the global geo-economy. The correct question to ask is not whether global companies have more advantages than the local/national ones however, but whether they can provide a better response to global problems. The fact that they call the shots on a global scale does not necessarily mean that they also have a global conscience and universally take responsibility for the world’s problems. Benjamin Barber, for example, refers to the ‘toxic cosmopolitanism of global markets’ by the name of McWorld, while Richard Falk warns against the dangers of market-led globalism and encouraged by multinational corporations and banks and ‘currency speculators and casino capitalists’. For now it is unlikely that global capitalism operates with a sufficiently cosmopolitan vision that is able to move from a defence of Adam Smith’s ‘wealth of nations’ towards a defence of the ‘wealth of the world’. A company is a private entity pursuing largely private interests. With no local or national ties it is (even more) difficult to imagine that a company would pay special attention to promoting such wealth. We know that national identities have certain virtues and certain defects. These virtues include the ability to unite a community and generate a sense of civic commitment among members of the same group. National identities are formidable sources of meaning that affect and mobilize individuals and communities and help make them accountable to other citizens. Nowadays, with globalization, the sense of community is expanding and the state no longer has sole claim over our sense of ‘us’. According to Timothy Garton Ash, the problem is that the ‘moral us which refers to all of mankind is not yet operational’. Indeed no one knows if it will ever be. We need to ask a more precise question: ‘What is the broader political community to which you would spontaneously apply ‘us’? The answer we give to this question is the key to our future’. Timothy Garton Ash (2004). To conclude, are global businesses the standard bearers of cosmopolitanism? Perhaps. However, we must not confuse the defence of a universal approach with the defence of casual cosmopolitanism or the banal globalism a certain economic, political and cultural elites, for which globalization entails a certain loss of their roots and a liberation from all that is implied by localism. Nevertheless, it is not the case that these elites have rid themselves of the annoying adhesions of space and national context (as it would seem they wish to do) and have made the effort to explore new cultures, rather they live in a global archipelago (I was going to say a bubble) made up of airports, hotels, shops, international restaurants and meeting rooms, which in reality is the area that actually dictates their life experiences and cultural references. We have global problems, global products and global services. We also have certain global institutions. We find it difficult to posess and above all to mobilize ourselves in response to global identities. Martha C. Nuss- baum’s calls for ‘global citizenship’ and David Held’s defence of ‘cosmopolitan democracy’ or Ulrich Beck’s defence of a ‘post-national cosmopolitan world order’ are praiseworthy but currently appear to be nothing but an institutional fantasy or a utopia. Since we are in the early days of constructing an ethical-political approach to a new global age, we shouldn’t ask ourselves (or contribute to asking) whether it is more advantageous if we were national or transnational, but rather ask ourselves how we can consciously face major glocal problems as part of our daily business. The way in which we build and we are allowed to combine the ‘I’ and ‘us’, the ‘us’ and the ‘others’, the ‘particular’ and the ‘univer- sal’ will ultimately determine our fate, for better or for worse. Daniel Bell argues that the state has become too large for the small things and too small for the big things. For local issues, we want an administration that is close at hand. And when it comes to serious global issues, nowadays NGOs and international organizations are better prepared than states. Why? Because states were neither designed nor intended to be global. I believe glocalization forces us to manage new problems. Around the time when Jordi Pujol was in office, before people started talking about globalization, the slogan ‘Our World is the World’ became popular in Catalonia. Obviously we are members of a nation, but either we form part of the world and/or have something to offer the world, or we will be swept away by history. Either you explain yourself to the world or they explain you. Our voice may be very small, but we have to stress our desire to have a voice in the world, a voice of excellence. Perhaps we will never be a big country, but we can be a great country. It all depends on the quality of our message, our actions and what we will be able to contribute to the world. Àngel Castiñeira Holds a Degree and a PhD in Philosophy and Educational Sciences from the Universitat de Barcelona. His currently Director of the Chair in Leadership and Democratic Governance (since 2006), Director of the Department of Social Sciences (since 2005), Professor in the Department of Social Sciences (since 1993) at ESADE-Ramon Llull University and Director of the Values Observatory, Fundació Lluís Carulla (since 2007). He has many publications to his name, most recently Nations imaginées: identité personnelle, identité nationale et lieux de mémoire (Imagined Nations: Personal Identity, National Identity and Places of Memory, In A.-G. Gagnon, A. Lecours & G. Nootens (dirs.) (Ed.). Les nationalismes majoritaires contemporains: identité, mémoire, pouvoir (Montréal: Quebec Amérique). First published in Catalan International View Photo: Catalan International View
  23. 23. ‘Sant Jordi’ [Saint George] and the ‘Diada del Llibre’ [Book Day] Catalan scientists around the world issue #26 - April 2014 On the 23rd of April, Catalans take to the streets and fill the ‘Rambles’ to celebrate the festivity of Saint George, Patron Saint of Catalonia, the Day of the Book and the Fair of Roses. Roses, books and ‘senyeres’ [Catalan flags] adorn the streets and squares across the country. Catalonia’s devotion towards Saint George can be traced back to the 8th century, even though it was during the Middle Ages that the Saint was widely worshipped in Catalonia, mainly thanks to the influence of King Peter the Catholic,JamesIorPetertheCeremoniouswhoallprofessedacertaindevotion to him. During the past eighty years, the civic and folkloric foundations of the initial celebration have been enriched by the addition of a secondary festival that is equally important: a homage to the written word, which was begun on the 7th of October 1926 by Vicent Clavel Andrés. This Valencian author and editor, who at the time was living in Barcelona and working as the Director of the ‘Editorial Cervantes’, suggested to the ‘Cámara Oficial del Libro de Barcelona’ [Oficial Chamber of Books of Barcelona] and the ‘Gremio de Editores y Libreros’ [Guild of Editors and Book Sellers], that the festival be a way of promoting the written word in Catalonia. The idea met with unanimous approval because it was seen as an optimum way to divulge and celebrate the linguistic and cultural heritage of the country. In 1929, during the International Exposition held in Barcelona, the stalls of books took to the streets and were so well received that the literary adventure was transformed into a permanent event that would take place not in October, but in the spring, on the 23rd of April, a date that coincides with the death of Cervantes and playwright William Shakespeare, who both died in 1616, also that of Josep Pla, who passed away in 1981. From the beginning, the festival has decisively contributed to the production and commercialization of written Catalan that maintained its strength even during the Civil War years. On the 15th of November 1995, UNESCO, during its general meeting, decreed that the 23rd of April was the World Day of the written word and of author’s rights. Thus, on this day, readers and authors alike take to the streets: the first with the expectation of coming across their favourite writer and the opportunity to exchange views about their previous literary offerings, and the latter to interact with their readers and enable them to sign their latest publications. Over the past few years, the literary ritual that surrounds the festival, as well as the celebration itself, has gained more and more media interest, which demonstrates the incidence and success that this day has acquired outside of Catalonia. Saint George’s Day has been declared a Catalan National Holiday by the Generalitat, even though it is not a Bank Holiday, and people must still go to work and children have to attend school. However, Saint George’s Day is when the Generalitat’s Palace holds all of its official receptions, and when schools and universities render homage to the written and recited word which are the real protagonists of the festivities. According to the ‘Costumari català’ [Catalan customs] compiled by the folklorist Joan Amades, it was at Montblanc where Saint George slew the dragon and saved the princess from its clutches. It is for this reason that, since 1987, the inhabitants of Montblanc re-live the ‘Setmana Medieval de la Llegenda de Sant Jordi’ [Medieval week of the Legend of Saint George] which culminates with the representation of the legend of the noble knight set in a scene in keeping with that of popular tradition. The foregoing is just the most recent and, moreover, original, civic and social contribution to the celebration. First published in Culturcat Photo by Culturcat ISSN: 2014-9093 | Legal deposit: B. 2198-2013 Culturcat - Generalitat de Catalunya seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OUR CULTURE OUR HISTORY