This site uses technical, analytics and third-party cookies.
By continuing to browse, you accept the use of cookies.

Preferences cookies

Panel Discussion Explores Urban Sustainability As Part of Nobel Prize Summit

The Embassy of Italy in Washington, together with the Nobel Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, hosted the “Smart Cities and New Green Solutions” virtual webinar to address the challenge of developing smart, people-oriented, resilient cities to improve the long-term health of the planet’s human and ecological systems. The event coincides with the 160th anniversary of Italy-U.S. diplomatic relations, the Italian co-presidency of COP26, and the Italian Research Day in the World.

Italy also holds the G20 Presidency this year with a focus on “People, Planet, Prosperity.” The theme of “Planet” is the nexus between people and prosperity: to focus on people and ensure prosperity, we first must take care of our planet and develop a safer and more sustainable world. Global cooperation on urban sustainability is an important issue and as G20 Chair and co-Chair of COP26, Italy is ready to collaborate with our major partners to promote an ambitious global agenda on climate change and environmental protection. The webinar provided a venue for prominent experts to share their areas of research and policy recommendations to achieve these goals.

The webinar was opened by Dr. Marcia McNutt, President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, by the Italian Minister of University and Research, Dr. Maria Cristina Messa and by the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Armando Varricchio.

Minister Messa stated that “The presence of thousands of Italian researchers in the most qualified research centers of the United States is key in strengthening the process of our country’s internationalization. We must work to foster collaborations that both enhance and support those who represent us abroad and, at the same time, provide those who are engaged in research projects in Italy with the best possible conditions so as to be truly competitive in innovative sectors such as digital and ecological transition. By participating today in the Nobel Prize Summit, with an Italian event on Green Smart Cities, we testify our country’s willingness and ability to share ideas and bring solutions to jointly face the challenge of sustainability at a global level.”

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Varricchio noted how “Scientific and technological cooperation has always been one of the strongest pillars of the strategic alliance between Italy and the United States, and we are proud to continue this great cooperation in all fields, including emerging technologies and climate, thanks to the over 15.000 Italian researchers active in the US. As stated by Prime Minister Draghi at the Summit on Climate: «The climate commitments we make in 2021 can determine our chances of tackling climate change effectively in the next decade and beyond. We must act now, not regret it later»”.

Dr. Stanley Whittingham, Director, NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Binghamton University and 2019 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry delivered keynote remarks.

The panel discussion was moderated by Alexander Kaufman, senior climate reporter at HuffPost, and featured experts including:

Dr. Chris Greer, Senior Executive for Cyber-Physical Systems, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce

Dr. Debra Lam, Managing Director for Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation, Institute for People and Technology, Georgia Tech’s Institute

Dr. Carlo Ratti, Director of Senseable City Lab, MIT

Dr. Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli, Professor of Physical Oceanography, MIT

For a list of events and public diplomacy activities please visit our social media accounts @ItalyInUS, our official website at and the official portal for the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations at