A conference to strengthen ties between France and the Southeast is entering its second year and attracting political and scientific notables including a 2007 Nobel Prize-winning physicist.
France-Atlanta 2010 drew 3,500 participants. Organizers expect a similar turnout for this year’s Oct. 26-Nov. 12 events to share experiences and build partnerships in scientific, cultural, business and humanitarian projects.
France-Atlanta 2011 panelists include physicist Albert Fert, who is to participate in an Oct. 28 panel on the applications of the semiconductor material graphene. Pascal Le Deunff, consul general for France in Atlanta and an organizer of the conference, told GlobalAtlanta that the product might one day replace silicon in electronic devices.
Other speakers include French Ambassador to the U.S. Francois Delattre and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who are to conclude an Oct. 26 panel on environmental technology and its uses in city management at the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
Mr. Le Deunff said the success of last year’s conference prompted the consulate to organize the 2011 events, and they hope to make France-Atlanta an annual affair. Not only did last year’s conference draw well from Atlanta and the Southeast but many of the participants maintained contact with one another.
In particular an agreement finalized in July between Atlantan and Parisian officials to attract businesses to their respective airport areas stemmed from dialogues begun at France-Atlanta 2010.
Another conference panel is to focus on France’s use of nuclear energy, which Mr. Le Deunff said accounts for 78 percent of his country’s energy production.
He added that France’s experience in this industry is more valuable than ever following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where a March earthquake followed by a tsunami endangered its ability to contain radiation, causing nearby residents to evacuate.
The event caused people around the world to question the safety of nuclear power production, but Mr. Le Deunff insists his country minimizes risks and accrues environmental benefits.
“We have a technology that’s very safe,” he said. “Thanks to that France is the nation in Europe which is the lowest emitter of carbon dioxide, and we will probably continue to believe in the nuclear sector.”
The Georgia Institute of Technology is to host panels on research and development, including Mr. Fert’s event and the nuclear energy workshop, while Emory University is to hold discussions on medical advances.
Cultural events are another emphasis of this year’s program. The Rialto Center for the Arts is to host an Oct. 30 contemporary dance performance by French company Dernière Minute, and the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta facility is to hold an exhibit and lecture by photographer Mohamed Bourouissa Nov. 7.
France-Atlanta is also partnering with BronzeLens Film Festival, an Atlanta-based organization that promotes contributions to film by persons of color, in a Nov. 12 event to highlight the movie industries of French-speaking African countries.
International cooperation in humanitarian efforts is another theme of the conference. Throughout the two-week period of France-Atlanta, conference organizers are to join the Carter Center and the Peace Corps in speaking to Atlanta-area high school students about the global efforts of nongovernmental organizations, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
The full program is available on the conference website at www.france-atlanta.org.