Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Science, technology and innovation endorsed for UNESCO’s 2006-2007 program

In October 2005, UNESCO’s General Conference (33rd Session) adopted Commission III’s Report, highlighting unanimous agreement that science, technology and innovation are the basis for economic growth, development and ultimately poverty eradication in cooperation with the social and human sciences to provide the necessary ethical, social and cultural framework.

During Commission III discussions on Major Programme II (Natural Sciences), speakers emphasized that in the field of basic and engineering sciences the following deserved particular attention:
• capacity-building in science and technology
• UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD),
• access of young girls and women to science
• promotion of international cooperation in basic and engineering sciences through the International Basic Sciences Program (IBSP)
• promotion and management of renewable sources of energy.

The majority of speakers called for greater emphasis on improving water-related disaster mitigation, including floods and droughts, as well as enhancing water management capacity at regional and national levels. Member States spoke of a worrying trend of falling student enrolment in science and engineering disciplines.

The Commission fully endorsed the creation of two centers: (1) the Regional Center for Biotechnology Training and Education in India; (2) the International Center for Biological Sciences in Venezuela. It also recommende granting of the status of a regional institute under the auspices of UNESCO (Category II) to the Instituto de Matematica Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) in Brazil. With regard to the centre in India, Member States noted that there was now a strong desire among nations to develop capacities in the utilization of biotechnology to address food insecurity; several delegates felt that the centres and the institute would help to promote South-South co-operation.

In response to general concerns about the strength of UNESCO’s commitment to capacity-building on the African continent, it was noted that the Second African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology had decided (on 30 September) that NEPAD would establish a high-level working group involving the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and UNESCO to prepare a comprehensive program for establishing and funding centres of excellence on the African continent. The member nations also wanted to see the Regional Bureau for Science in Europe retain its existing geographical scope and primary function as a science office directed by a scientist.

Speakers underscored the responsibility falling to all five scientific programmes to provide the basic scientific information for understanding global change and incorporation into policy-making. With regard to the fifth scientific programme, many speakers commended UNESCO for the new IBSP. Stressing the importance of basic sciences for endogenous development and the need to revitalize both basic sciences and science education, Member States expressed satisfaction at the priority given to Africa in this programme.

The cross-sectoral nature of many UNESCO programmes (e.g. sustainable development, science education, climate change, natural disaster prevention and preparedness, etc.) was underlined, and a large number of delegations called for an increased level and scope of interdisciplinarity and intersectorality in the design and implementation of UNESCO’s programmes, as multidisciplinarity eventually constituted one of the Organization’s main comparative advantages.


Draft report Commission III, 18 October 2005

Draft Programme and Budget 2006-2007 revised (33 C/5rev.)

Monday, December 26, 2005

UNESCO's World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST*)

Go to the COMEST website.

COMEST is an advisory body and forum composed of 18 members. The Commission is mandated to formulate ethical principles that could provide decision-makers with criteria other than purely economic.

COMEST members, appointed by the Director General, serve for four-year terms in their personal capacities. The members come from many nations.

A U.S. citizen is now a member: Midge Decter is an author and editor. She serves as a member of the board of trustees of the Heritage Foundation, the board of Security Policy, Institute on Religion and Public Life, Philadelphia Society and is chairperson of the Clare Booth Luce Fundation.

The Heritage Foundation website describes her as follows:

Decter’s incisive writing on a range of topics has proven invaluable to the conservative movement. A former editor at Basic Books, her writing has graced the pages of Commentary, First Things, Harper’s and a number of other publications. Her books include "The New Chastity", "Liberal Parents, Radical Children". and the recent "Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait". A Senior Fellow at the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York City, Decter previously served as Executive Director of the Committee for a Free World, a powerful voice for anti-communism that she voluntarily disbanded after the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Soviet communism.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

UNESCO Official criticises Delhi refusal to share data on low-magnitude quakes

Read the full story in The Peninsula Online (Qatar). (12/17/2005)

"India said yesterday it would not share information on earthquakes below a magnitude of six on the Richter scale due to security concerns, drawing criticism from the United Nations.

"Indian seismologists at an UN tsunami conference said sharing seismic data had security implications as seabed terrain could be mapped, possibly helping others learn about the nation's submarines and warships......

"Patricio Bernal, assistant director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), rejected India's argument and said the organisation wanted a free flow of data.

"'The small quakes are important because we never know what they may lead to. It might be the signal for a bigger one,' he told AFP.

"'India is the only country which has put up such a request (to refuse to share such data),' he added."

UNESCO’s Global Ethics Observatory launched

Read the full news release from UNESCO.

UNESCO’s Global Ethics Observatory
– a database of all currently available resources on ethics worldwide – was officially launched last week, at the meeting of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) in Tokyo.

Through the Portal, everyone can now access direct and free of charge, four databases covering the fields of bioethics.

# Database 1: Who's Who in Ethics (Individual experts in ethics around the globe)
# Database 2: Ethics Institutions (Institutions, centers, commissions, and committees in the area of ethics)
# Database 3: Ethics Teaching Programs (Descriptions of existing teaching programmes within the field of ethics)
# COMING SOON - Database 4: Ethics Related Legislation and Guidelines

"South Asia: U.S. provides hazard warning expertise to Indian Ocean nations"

Read the full article by Cheryl Pellerin on ReliefWeb.

"India meeting produces implementation outline for regional system"

"The yearlong international effort to secure Indian Ocean coastal populations against the ravages of another deadly tsunami is paying off, as members of the UNESCO International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) converge on basic principles of an operational early warning system for the region.

"Along the way, many countries, including the United States, have offered financial and technical support for the complex undertaking, which includes hazard and risk assessment for each nation, ocean observations and data management, forecasting, forecast and warning dissemination and capacity building.

"Over the past 12 months, the United States has provided $840 million in emergency recovery and reconstruction assistance to the region, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Private U.S. assistance amounts to $1.8 billion in cash and in-kind donations.

"Through the U.S. Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS) program, U.S. agencies will spend $16.6 million over two years to help develop early warning capabilities for tsunamis and other hazards in the Indian Ocean, and support the IOC’s lead in developing an international warning system with data sharing for 16 countries."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays!

"UNESCO Designates Chaco Biosphere Reserve"

Men on the Chaco Biosphere Reserve
prepare to perform a traditional dance.

Read the full article in USAID Frontlines. (December 2005)

A Great Example of Cooperation between USAID and UNESCO!

"The U.N. Education Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved the designation of almost 7.5 million hectares of forest lands as the Chaco Biosphere Reserve this June.

"The Paraguayan government had been moving since 2001 toward making the Chaco a biosphere reserve. Since then, USAID, though the Fundacion DeSdel Chaco and The Nature Conservancy, has helped prepare the scientific work required to prove that an area should be a reserve.

"Researchers made maps of the soil, vegetation, and topography of the Chaco, a massive plains region on the border of Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. They also researched the local infrastructure and social setting, considering things like the construction of an administrative office and control posts and operating costs for the reserve.

"USAID also helped local governments to promote public participation, transparency, organization, and decentralization. Several workshops were held educating the public about the Chaco. And USAID helped with the writing and submission of the proposal to UNESCO."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Earth Charter/UNESCO musical CDs on iTunes

Go to the iTunes website.

UNESCO and Earth Charter have sponsored the production of CD's that would make good holiday gifts, or indeed good listening all year. There are three (so far). The cost per album is US$9.95. Not only are they a bargain, but a significant part of the profits goes to good causes.

The International Earth Charter/UNESCO musical CD on iTunes

This international musical CD initiative, initiated by the Earth Charter Secretariat and with UNESCO sponsorship, has been coordinated by the French NGO "Pour la Terre". The songs, which reflect the diversity of the world, have been selected for their musical quality and the messages that they transmit.

The international CD features major artists representing the five continents, including Youssou N'Dour, Chico and the Gypsies, Tokiko Kato, Maná, Maria Emilia, Raffi, Rosie Emery, Meiway. Each song revolves around one or more Earth Charter principles. Contributing artists and songs for the international CD are as follows:
- We Are One (Earth Mama)
1. Justicia, Tierra y Libertad (Maná)
2. Xaley Reew Mi (Youssou N> '> Dour)
3. The River (Nicole Redner)
4. Viva la Vida (Chico and the Gypsies)
5. Now is the Time (Tokiko Kato)
6. Turn This World Around (Raffi)
7. Dolphin Teach Us To Play (Rosie Emery)
8. What> '> s That, Habitat? (Remy Rodden)
9. I Like to Recycle (The Young and Elderly Recycling Stand Band)
10. Forgive Me (Clear Blue 22)
11. A Lua Escureceu (Maria Emilia/Tete Espinela)
12. H.I.V. (Daromax & Ethymos)
13. Flying Earth Song (Chen Yuan Yuan)
14. Assez (Meiway)
15. Peace and Love (Zehava Ben)
The international CD is now accessible on: iTunes U.S site/children's

The CD can also be accessed by entering UNESCO or Earth Charter in the
iTunes Music Store Search window.

The San Francisco Earth Charter/UNESCO CDs, School Kit and future Concert

Association Pour la Terre completed production of a 2 CD set, one directed toward children up to 14 and the other for young people over that age. (There will be an accompanying School Kit which contains the basic philosophy of Sustainable Development and the Earth Charter principles. The Kit will also have one page devoted to each artist-group, with lyrics, association of meaning of song with Earth Charter principle(s), brief bio, student exercises and relevant web pages. It will be a teaching tool which will be distributed freely by secure FTP download to San Francisco School District teachers for classroom use.)

Sale of this music will benefit UNESCO and the Earth Charter Secretariat, as well as providing royalties for the artist, and positive promotion for all concerned. 25% of the net profit is for SF school music programs (devoted to sustainable development and the Earth Charter principles) and 25% is to be shared equally by UNESCO/Earth Charter/Pour la Terre.

Young People's CD:

1. Grateful Dead (live version of Touch of Grey)
2. Mana/with special SF guest artist (Justicia, Tierra, y Libertad)
3. Mickey Hart (Light Over Shadow)
4. Kitaro
5. Huey Lewis (Small World, Pt. 1) (hard disc only)
6. Ozomatli (Quando Canto)
7. Shana Morrison (More Than I Need)
8. Country Joe (Peace on Earth)
9. Tommy Castro (Anytime Now)
10. Dan Hicks (You Gotta Believe)
11. Maria Muldaur (Never Swat a Fly)
12. Doobie Brothers (People Gotta Love Again)
13. Luna Angel (Unconditional Love)
14. Billy Farlow (The Rain Don't Shine on Me)

Children's CD:

1. Wavy Gravy (Basic Human Needs)
2. Rowan Brothers/w David Grisman (Circle of Friends)
3. Linda Arnold (All Kinds of People; One Earth)
4. Banana Slug String Band (What Animals Need)
5. Bonnie Lockhart (Water Cycle)
6. Lisa Atkinson (Is Anybody Listening)
7. Chris Molla (Pick it Up, Stand Up)
8. Gary Lapow (All Kinds of People)
9. Nancy Schimmel ("Playing Winnie-the-Pooh") - song about equality of sexes
(Malvina Reynolds' daughter)
10. Candy Forest ("All in This Together")
11. Blame Sally ("La Llorona") Mexican folk song about importance of home
to children)
12. John Stewart (The Man Who Would Be King)
13. William Florian ("'I'm Declaring Peace")

The CD can be accessed by entering UNESCO or Earth Charter in the iTunes Music Store Search window.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Science and the World Heritage Sites

Manchu Pichu, a World Heritage Site
Photo by VFowler via Flickr

Go to the Study page on the InterAcademy Council website.

"The UNESCO, World Heritage Centre wishes to promote increased scientific research and scientific activities related to management at World Heritage sites. At their request, the InterAcademy Council (IAC) will undertake a study to review the role of science at both World Heritage natural and mixed Sites. The study�s goal will be to outline opportunities to increase the involvement of science at the sites including opportunities to; i) bolster pure research, including the use of scientific information in identifying potential sites and designing nomination strategies; ii) increase sciences� role in applied activities related to site conservation and management, and iii) generate technical information to facilitate decision making by national policy makers on issues affecting World Heritage."

The IAC was created by the world's science academies to mobilize the best scientists and engineers worldwide to provide high quality advice to international bodies - such as the United Nations and the World Bank - as well as to other institutions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The UNESCO E-Card service

Food for Thought, Thought for Action

Go to the UNESCO E-Card website.

Find colorful e-greetings for the Holidays that you can personalize and send by e-mail to family, friends or colleagues.

UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN Networks

Go to the Program website with links to all the networks and chairs.

UNITWIN is the abbreviation for the UNIVERSITY TWINNING and networking scheme. The Program creates networks, each built around one or more University Chairs. (A UNESCO Chair in Bioethics was established in 2005 at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C.)

The Program was established in 1992 with the aim of developing interuniversity cooperation, while emphazing the transfer of knowledge among universities and the promotion of academic solidarity across the world.

The Networks in Education are:

Civics & values education
Distance Education
Early Childhood
Higher Education
Lifelong Education
Preventive Education
Teacher Training
Technical/Vocational Education

Those dealing with Culture are:

Civic Education
Cultural Development
Cultural Diversity
Cultural Heritage
Cultural Policy
Cultural Tourism
Culture of Peace
Intangible Heritage
Intercultural & Interreligious Dialogue
International Understanding
Resolution of Conflicts

There are also a number of "Special Focus" networks:

Human Rights
Lifelong Education
Gender and Women Issues

Friday, December 16, 2005

"UN meets in India on tsunami early warning system"

Read the full story from the December 14, 2005 edition of Sify. (India)

"Top scientists and government officials from over 25 nations launched talks on Wednesday aimed at setting up a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean countries by next year.

"The UN's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, holding its second session on the system, will review progress made by the nations involved in the project and seek to plug implementation gaps.

"'The main objective is to find out ways to establish the early warning system,' P S Goel, India's highest-ranking bureaucrat in the department of ocean development, said on the sidelines of the three-day meeting."

"What do bibliometric indicators tell us about world scientific output?"

Read the full issue of the Bulletin.

"Bibliometric indicators discussed in this bulletin show that the distribution of scientific production around the world is changing: developed countries’ share of world scientific publications has declined over the last 20 years. Some developing regions are increasing their production in this field (Latin America, Asia) but others are not (Africa)."

This issue of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) Bulletin on Science and Technology Statistics presents a bibliometric analysis of 20 years of world scientific production (1981-2000), with a particular emphasis on developing countries. UIS Bulletin on Science and Technology Statistics, Issue No. 2, September 2005. (PDF, 6 pages.)

Resolutions of the 33rd session of the General Conference of UNESCO

Resolutions of the 33rd session of the General Conference of UNESCO, which took place in Paris, 3-21 October 2005.

This is the formal report of the resolutions taken at the General Conference in October. (PDF, 243 pages.)


Read the full U.N. press release.

"For the first time in the history of both entities, the Directors of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Koïchiro Matsuura and Carmen Moreno, respectively, signed a memorandum of understanding to increase their mutual cooperation towards the achievement of their common objectives of promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.....

"In addition to technical cooperation, both entities endeavour to foster mutual consultation by informing each other of programmes and projects, promoting reciprocal representation in meetings and activities, and facilitating the exchange of information and documents. According to this agreement, all areas relating to the empowerment of women and gender equality in the fields of education, science, culture and communication will be covered."

Information and communication technologies at UNESCO

Go to the entire In Focus report.

"UNESCO gives a high priority to the use of ICT for more equitable and pluralistic access to information and knowledge in various spheres of human endeavour. In particular, UNESCO focuses its attention on the impact of ICT on education, gender, indigenous communities, people with disabilities and youth.....

UNESCO image
"The use of ICT in and for education is rapidly expanding in many countries and is now seen worldwide as both a necessity and an opportunity. UNESCO is giving a high priority to the use of ICT for more equitable and pluralistic development in education. The broad questions on which UNESCO focuses are:
* How can one use ICT to accelerate progress towards education for all and throughout life?
* How can ICT bring about a better balance between equity and excellence in education?
* How can education prepare individuals and society to master and benefit from "ICT that increasingly permeate all spheres of life?

UNESCO imageThe benefits of knowledge and technology are not available to the large majority of the world's population. Women find themselves in most cases excluded from opportunities offered by ICT. Their capacity to take advantage of ICT depends on the extension of communications infrastructure to where women live and on the increase of their educational level. To bridge the gender divide UNESCO fosters the broadest possible participation of decision-makers, professional communities, civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners and the private sector.

"UNESCO places a high value on programmes aimed at mutual understanding, tolerance and respect for the rights of individuals to a cultural identity and to self-determination. Part and parcel of this strategy is the reinforcement of a free flow of communication both within and between indigenous societies and, in turn, between them and the rest of the world. UNESCO therefore welcomes activities which create and reinforce the indigenous media and which promote their participation in an international dialogue.

"Over 10% of the world’s population suffers from a variety of disabilities. However, ICT can offer individuals the ability to compensate for physical or functional limitations, thus allowing them to enhance their social and economic integration. UNESCO promotes the use of ICT for access to information and knowledge for all persons, including those with disabilities."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI: Girding for the Next Killer Wave"

Read the full article by Richard Stone and Richard A. Kerr in Science (subscription required.

The Indian Ocean tsunami killed some 230,000 people in a dozen nations, including 168,000 in Indonesia's Aceh province at the tip of the island of Sumatra. The lesson in ill-preparedness has sparked a multinational effort "to create a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean. As the first anniversary of the disaster approaches, an alarm network is beginning to emerge--a loose web of deep ocean sensors, tide gauges, and seismic stations operated by individual countries, along with mechanisms for sharing data and disseminating public warnings.

"Last month, for example, Indonesia, the country deemed most vulnerable to the next big Indian Ocean tsunami, deployed two sea-floor pressure sensors and associated buoys, the vanguard of a 10-sensor network.....By establishing warning centers, Thailand and other countries have begun to fill a lethal void.......

"Representatives of Indian Ocean nations met in Bangkok last January to begin planning for a tsunami alert system. Discussions bogged down over who would host a regional warning center. By spring it was clear that each country would establish its own center, although the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO was invited to coordinate an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, the subject of an IOC meeting next week in Hyderabad, India. It is expected to cost $200 million to bring the system online over the next few years.

"IOC is counting on five nations--Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand--to cover the entire Indian Ocean, with other nations enhancing the coverage. "No single nation can protect itself or provide protection to others alone," says IOC executive secretary Patricio Bernal. Real-time data will stream into one or more "sub-regional centers," he says, where it will be rapidly processed and fed back to national warning centers, which would decide on their own whether to issue tsunami advisories to their citizens......

"the network won't come cheap, nor will it come quickly: The U.S. factory that produces the buoys was inundated by Hurricane Katrina, so production is lagging, sources say. Thailand plans to buy two and have them in place in the Andaman Sea by early 2007. India expects to deploy up to a dozen, and Malaysia will place three more in the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea, and the Sulu Sea.....

"Through IOC, the United States is kicking in $16.6 million over 2 years for these efforts, primarily in India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Thailand."

Risk of Future Tsunamis

The magnitude of 9.3 earthquake off Aceh province of Indonesia last December is thought to have shunted stress southward beneath the sea floor, contributing to an earthquake on the same fault line on 28 March -- one that struck at a hefty magnitude 8.7. "The next section of fault down the line--from 1°S to 5°S, offshore of the Sumatran city of Padang--could well be poised for disaster. This segment last failed in 1833; the accumulated stress could drive a quake larger than magnitude 8.5. A subsequent tsunami would threaten a million people along 500 kilometers of low-lying Indonesian coast.

"New findings underscore the risk. Earlier this week, at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, California, the Ulster group, with colleagues at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome, reported preliminary computer simulations of possible south Sumatra tsunamis. They first modeled a range of possible earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 to 9.0 and then used the resulting sea-floor movement to drive a model of tsunami wave generation. Initial results show that the coast from Padang south could be devastated."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

UNESCO continues support for N’ko project to promote presence of African languages in cyberspace

Read the full UNESCO news release.

"UNESCO continues its support for a project enabling African languages written in N’ko, an alphabet developed in 1949, to be present in cyberspace through the development of fonts for the N’ko script and their use in hard and software.

"Carried out in partnership with the Scripts Encoding Initiative of the University of California at Berkeley, the present project phase aims at facilitating the presence of languages based in N’ko scripts (Malinke, Bambara, Dyula) in the digital world though the availability of N’ko-compatible software and hardware and appropriate standards."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

AIDS Education Week and UNESCO

Reuters photo.
"Two young Lebanese activists hand out condoms during a play staged at UNESCO center in Beirut to mark World Aids Day December 1, 2005. The play aims to raise awareness about the disease that claims millions of lives around the world." Reuters.

AIDS Education Week is built around World AIDS Day which was the first of December.

A message from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World AIDS Day, 1 December 2005:
The AIDS epidemic continues to take a heavy toll in Sub-Saharan Africa and threatens many other regions of the world. Comprehensive responses linking prevention with treatment are the best hope for weakening its grip and preventing it from expanding.
As in past years, World AIDS Day is a moment for taking stock and for each of us to recall that AIDS remains a serious emergency. HIV continues to spread, with some 40 million people estimated to be living with the virus worldwide. International awareness-raising and mobilization are impressive, and many governments are committed to tackling the epidemic in a comprehensive way. Those most vulnerable, however, still tend to be dramatically under-served when it comes to the knowledge and means they need in order to protect themselves and others from infection and its consequences.

The ten UNAIDS cosponsors are working intensively with national authorities, bilateral donors and civil society to harmonize efforts, remove obstacles, and take both prevention and treatment programmes into the most affected areas and populations. A major inter-agency initiative to intensify prevention has galvanized all those concerned, and UNESCO is a strong partner in this effort.

EDUCAIDS, the UNESCO-led initiative on HIV/AIDS and education, will provide the main frame of reference for our work in the area of AIDS during 2006 and beyond. Seeking to bring to scale comprehensive responses adapted to particular situations, EDUCAIDS is working with education and development partners to ensure that the response to HIV and AIDS becomes an integral part of all development processes related to education. The diversity of the AIDS epidemic calls for customized responses but comprehensive education on HIV and AIDS is necessary everywhere. Targeted and adapted services are also essential to serve the most vulnerable groups if the spread and impact of AIDS are to be contained. EDUCAIDS has begun to work with a selected number of countries and will expand to some twenty countries in 2006, using capacity development, resource mobilization, and monitoring mechanisms to ensure effective prevention alongside treatment and care activities.

Prevention efforts cannot work in a climate of prejudice and discrimination, nor can they work without the participation and involvement of all those concerned: men and women, young persons, and, most of all, people living with the virus. In consequence, UNESCO’s commitment to and programmes for human rights, for establishing effective workplace policies for education personnel, and for gender equality are all being brought to bear on our efforts.

World AIDS Day is a reminder of the ongoing daily emergency. It is an occasion to renew commitment, review past results, and be reminded that the AIDS epidemic can and must be effectively curtailed as part of our push to achieve a better, safer and fuller life for everyone. This is why action against the spread of HIV and AIDS is an integral aspect of efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All goals and the objectives of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

UNESCO has published this short description on its HIV/AIDS education efforts: "HIV/AIDS Prevention Education: In response to the epidemic, UNESCO’s action in thefield of HIV/AIDS prevention education is a priority."

Friday, December 02, 2005

"Information summit's main success was idea sharing"

Read the full SciDev.Net article about the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) co-sponsored by UNESCO and ITU.

"The summit's best outcomes were that the 20,000 delegates broadly agreed that information and communication technologies are vital to development, and that they embraced new ideas for bridging the digital divide.

"Although the summit has not fully resolved any of the "knotty issues" up for discussion, writes Jain (Indian journalist Amit Jain, writing for BBC Online), it has 'enabled the various sectors striving to bridge the digital divide to find ways to collaborate'.

Jain concludes that, 'the most effective exchange of ideas doesn't necessarily take place in lofty academic discussions, it's the chance encounters … that may lead to the most creative outcomes.'

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Jobs at UNESCO

UNESCO's Paris Garden by Isamu Noguchi

Go to the UNESCO employment website.

UNESCO regularly recruits staff to fill vacancies at its headquarters in Paris, as well as, openings in their field offices and various institutes throughout the world. Citizens of the United States are eligible for such positions, and indeed the State Department encourages UNESCO to employ citizens of this country.

UNESCO's employment website provides job listings, as well as information about working for the organization. Special programs are available for
Young Professionals
Associate Experts

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO provides some information about opportunities at UNESCO on its website.

Seniot positions for which recruiting is now underway include:

DIRECTOR of the Office and UNESCO Representative to Brazil (closes December 14, 2005)

Director of the International Institute for Capacity-Building in Africa (IICBA)

I would suggest that U.S. citizens interested in applying for such positions inform either the staff of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO or the staff of the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris. They might be helpful in providing information to the applicants, and in supporting the application.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

UN Student Conference on Human Rights

The 8th Annual UN Student Conference on Human Rights, will take place on Thursday, December 1 and Friday, December 2.

This year's theme is "Water as a Human Right."

On Dec. 1, 2005, student delegates will meet at the United Nations
International School (UNIS) for presentations by speakers and to begin
drafting a Plan of Action. The meeting will be webcast from the UNIS web site at the following times:

10:00 to 12:30 (Eastern Standard Time)
15:45 to 17:00 (Eastern Standard Time)

On Dec. 2, 2005, the conference moves to UN Headquarters. The webcast
of this event will be available on the UN Cyberschoolbus web site

9:15am-12:15pm (Eastern Standard Time)
1:45pm-4:15pm (Eastern Standard Time)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Radio Sagarmatha Forced to Close Down"

Read the full posting on United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal

"The government of Nepal has closed down Radio Sagarmatha, the first South Asian non-government independent radio, alleging it of broadcasting ‘programs supporting terrorists or terrorism’. In a letter sent by Ministry of Information and Communication, the authority has ordered the community radio station not to resume broadcasting until next directives........

"The station established and being run by Nepal Forum of Environment Journalists since May 22, 1997 AD. The establishment was supported by UNESCO. NEFEJ is celebrating its 20th anniversary today."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"Access for Africa: Tech summit in Tunisia ends with ideas and promises -- but little funding."

Read the full Associated Press article in MIT's Technology Review.

"A crucial summit on expanding Internet access around the world ended with a firm promise to narrow the digital divide -- but little in government funding to make it happen.

"The World Summit on the Information Society co-sponsored by ITU and UNESCO) originally was conceived to raise consciousness about the divide between the haves and have-nots, and to raise money for projects to link up the global village, particularly Africa and Asia and South America.

"Instead, it was overshadowed by a lingering resentment about who should oversee the domain names and technical issues that allow people" to use the Internet.

"'They have promised and promised and promised, and it's not the first time that they have promised this,' said Diallo Mohamadou, a telecommunications consultant from Senegal. 'In 2000, they promised to connect all the small villages far away from the big cities in Africa to the Internet. Five years later and nothing has happened.'

"Participants said more than 200 new initiatives were unveiled at the summit, but no exact dollar amount, said T. Kelly, head of the strategy and policy unit for the Geneva-based ITU."

Languages and the Internet

Go to the UNESCO webpage describing the evolution of languages on the Internet since 1996.

Go to the Global Reach website for more information.

According to data published by UNESCO, about one-third of all users of the Internet speak English, but more than two-thirds of the content on the Internet is in English.
(Click on the pie chart to expand the size.)

UNESCO has published a collection of papers by John Paolillo, Daniel Pimienta, Daniel Prado, and others titled Measuring Linguistic Diversity on the Internet.

Read an article about the languages of the Internet (in Spanish) on ElMundo.Es

BBC News on WSIS

Read the full article by David Reid on BBC News.

"At the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), international diplomats turned their attention to the most important question yet to face the net: who should control it?"

The article also addresses innovations introduced at WSIS:

"On this issue private companies are often more powerful than governments, so getting the right people involved means bringing in big businesses whose knowledge of markets often means a more subtle approach.

"Perhaps the $100 laptop is the sort of innovation that could make a difference.

"The aim behind this so-called Green Machine is to give one to every child. It could replace all of a child's text books, and at a similar cost, as John Ryan, from MIT's One Laptop per Child project, explained.

"'You can now provide an advanced text book in mathematics for a child that is really excelling in mathematics, and internet access and telecommunications and a computer that does calculations and so forth, within the existing budget.'"

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)

Go to the UNESCO-EOLSS website.

Read an informative booklet on the UNESCO-ELOSS.

The Largest On-line Encyclopedia: A virtual dynamic library equivalent to 200 volumes

EOLSS presents a comprehensive, authoritative, and integrated body of knowledge of life support systems.
“A life support system is any natural or human-engineered (constructed or made ) system that furthers the life of the biosphere in a sustainable fashion. The fundamental attribute of life support systems is that together they provide all of the sustainable needs required for continuance of life. These needs go far beyond biological requirements. Thus life support systems encompass natural environmental systems as well as ancillary social systems required to foster societal harmony, safety, nutrition, medical care, economic standards, and the development of new technology. The one common thread in all of these systems is that they operate in partnership with the conservation of global natural resources.”
EOLSS is designed as a global guide to professional practice, education, and heightened social awareness of critical life support issues. "Natural and social sciences, humanities, engineering and technology, and management policies for sustainable use of life support systems are emphasized, together with issues of global change and their ecological, economic, social, ethical, cultural, and political dimensions. The EOLSS is intended to enhance the systematic development of knowledge that is essential for global stability, security, and peace. In particular, the EOLSS presents perspectives from worldwide regions and cultures, and is free from geographic, racial, cultural, political, gender, age, or religious bias."

- Encyclopedia of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- Encyclopedia of Mathematical Sciences
- Encyclopedia of Biological, Physiological AND HEALTH sciences
- Encyclopedia of Social Sciences and Humanities
- Encyclopedia of Physical Sciences, engineering and Technology Resources
- Encyclopedia of Chemical Sciences, Engineering and Technology Resources
- Encyclopedia of Water Sciences, Engineering and Technology Resources
- Encyclopedia of Energy Sciences, Engineering and Technology Resources
- Encyclopedia of Environmental and Ecological Sciences, Engineering and Technology Resources
- Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Engineering and technology Resources
- Encyclopedia of Human Resources Policy and Management
- Encyclopedia of Natural Resources Policy and ManagemeNT
- Encyclopedia of Development and Economic Sciences
- Encyclopedia of Institutional and Infrastructural Resources
- Encyclopedia of Technology, Information, and Systems Management Resources
Governing bodies.

The EOLSS project is coordinated by the UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Committee and sponsored by Eolss Publishers, which is based in Oxford, United Kingdom. The UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Committee was established (a) to seek, select, invit and appoint Honorary Theme Editors (HTEs) for each Theme, (b) to provide assistance to the HTEs, (c) to obtain appropriate contributions for the different levels of the Encyclopedia, and (d) monitoring the text development.

The EOLSS International Editorial Council is a 1000-strong editorial advisory body which includes Nobel and UN Kalinga Laureates, World Food Prize Laureates, and several fellows of academies of science and engineering of countries throughout the world. The Configuration Control Board is a high-level body with membership chosen from the International Editorial Council (IEC).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"World Digital Library Planned: Library of Congress Envisions Collection To Bridge Cultures"

Read the article by David A. Vise in today's Washington Post.

"The Library of Congress is launching a campaign today to create the World Digital Library, an online collection of rare books, manuscripts, maps, posters, stamps and other materials from its holdings and those of other national libraries that would be freely accessible for viewing by anyone, anywhere with Internet access.

Main Building Library of Congress

"This is the most ambitious international effort ever undertaken to put precious items of artistic, historical, and literary significance on the Internet so that people can learn about other cultures without traveling further than the nearest computer, according to James H. Billington, head of the Library of Congress......

"Google co-founder and President Sergey Brin said in an interview that he and Billington began discussions roughly one year ago about ways for the Library of Congress and Google to team up. Brin said he became intrigued after seeing a range of "beautiful" items in the Library of Congress collection during private meetings with Billington.......

"Brin and Billington said Google would only digitize materials from the Library of Congress that are in the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright protection.

"Brin said he will help raise additional private funds to finance the World Digital Library. Billington said the $3 million gift from Google will be used over the next few years to develop the details of the project and pay for global outreach.

"'Working with UNESCO, we want to encourage other countries to make use of our experiences in developing their own digitization projects,' Billington said."

Monday, November 21, 2005

The New Courier: Special UNESCO 60th anniversary issue

Read the issue online.

This issue examines UNESCO at 60 years of age. It contains focus sections discussing many of UNESCO's most important programs, including those dealing with:
* Education For All
* Oceans
* Heritage
* Copyright
* Bioethics
* Environment
* Cultural diversity
* Water
* Digital Divide
* Crises and emergencies

Some interesting tidbits from UNESCO's history (found in the issue):
* Céline Dion, the popular Canadian singer, was the first UNESCO Artist for Peace, appointed in 1999. The latest is French sculptor and poet Gérard Voisin in 2005.

* UNESCO issued its first commemorative medals, a set of three, in 1961 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The newest medal was issued in October and commemorates UNESCO’s 60th anniversary.

* The diplomat and businessman Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker was first UNESCO Good Will Ambassador to be appointed in 1990. Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, is the latest to join the ranks in 2005.

* In 1945, 37 countries signed the UNESCO Constitution, which came into force a year later after ratification by 20 signatories. They became the first founders of the Organization. With the entry of Brunei Darussalam in March 2005, the Organization now comprises 191 Member States and 6 Associate Members.

* The nomination of the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador was the first World Heritage site nomination to reach UNESCO in 1978, followed by 11 others in seven countries. Twentyfour new sites were inscribed in 2005, the latest being the Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos in Cuba. Today, the list comprises 812 sites from 137 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention.

* Alva Myrdal (1902-1986) directed UNESCO’s Department of Social Sciences from 1951 to 1955.

* People representing their countries at UNESCO governance meetings included Maria Montessori, Taha Hussain, Pablo Neruda, and Indira Ghandi.

* in 1953 UNESCO established the World Braille Uniformity Programme, which standardized literary codes, enabling blind people around the world to read the same Braille books, learn foreign languages, exchange ideas and experiences. This expanded later to include science, mathematics and music notations. UNESCO also launched the World Braille Council, thus providing an international venue for Braille matters to be discussed. Again in 1953, UNESCO published World Braille Usage, as well as the Braille Courier in English, French, Spanish and Korean.

* If not for UNESCO’s international campaign, the Aswan High Dam would have flooded the Nile valley, site of the most important Nubian temples. This was but one of 26 campaigns. In addition, operational projects have been launched protecting monuments and sites such as those in Angkor, Mostar and Ethiopia.

"Brazilian wins UNESCO prize for popularising science"

Read the full article on SciDev.Net.

"UNESCO has awarded Brazilian biologist Jeter Bertoletti the 2005 Kalinga prize in recognition of his work at the Science and Technology Museum in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil.

"The prize, created by the India-based Kalinga Foundation Trust, is awarded annually to a recipient who excels in engaging the public with science and technology.

"Bertoletti founded the museum in 1967, and built links between it and the Pontific Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, where he is a professor."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

UNESCO Welcomes Cultural Diversity Endorsement

Read the full article in artdaily.com

"The Director-General of UNESCO, Ko�chiro Matsuura, today welcomed the endorsement by 176 States attending the World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, November 16-18) of UNESCO?s vision of 'knowledge societies'. This vision is based on the four principles of freedom of expression, quality education for all, universal access to information and knowledge and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity. These principles are included in the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society adopted at WSIS today."

Editorial: WSIS

The World Summit on the Information Society is finally over. Another good thing is that it has engendered public discussion on information and communications technology for development. Unfortunately, most of that discussion seems to have centered on the role of ICANN in the governance of the Internet, and on “A Laptop for Every Child”. Unfortunately, the key issues that should have been and sometimes were discussed at the Summit have been largely overlooked by the media.

The industrial revolution, which still has not reached all of the world’s population, transformed society by substituting power from engines for animal power, and by mechanizing tasks that previously had been done by hand. It marked the emergence of manufacturing industries over extractive industries as the drivers of development. It profoundly changed the nature of society.

The information revolution, which is just beginning to affect most of the world, transforms society by enabling affordable communication at a distance, and by automating tasks previously done in the minds of men – calculation, storage and retrieval of information, etc. It marks the emergence of service industries over manufacturing industries as the drivers of development. It will profoundly change the nature of society.

The age of the printing press, beginning in the 1450’s, was advanced by the industrial revolution allowing printed material to be produced in greater and greater amounts, more and more cheaply, and distributed more widely and economically. The age of the microchip, beginning five centuries later, is extending all of these benefits. The growth of knowledge in the age of the printing press has been exponential, and it seems likely that the age of the microchip will allow that exponential growth to continue. Knowledge is now the driving force not only of the economies of rich countries, but increasingly of social and political development.

100 years from now, WSIS might be seen as a benchmark, as the first time the global community met to formally recognize the information revolution and information society. Of course, we barely recognize that we are at the beginning of such a transition, and we can not begin to predict its eventual ramifications. No wonder the participants at WSIS focused on small steps for men, rather than the giant step for mankind.

ICT and Poverty

The information society, as seen today by poor people in poor countries, is more a matter of radio and mobile phones than of computers and the Internet, although you would not appreciate the fact from the media coverage of WSIS. I do not belittle radio and telephones; they are a huge advance!

The unseen action of ICT on poverty is still more important. The extractive industries, agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, become more efficient as ICT is applied. Indeed, extractive industries benefit that we hardly consider as such, such as the “water industry”. Manufacturing too is transformed, albeit not at the level of the micro-enterprise in poor countries, by the application of ICT, from the design of plant and equipment, to the management of the process, to the marketing of goods. Transportation too becomes more efficient, as ICT is applied to the design and manufacture of vehicles of all kinds, to their operation, and to their management. Services, including governance, financial, health and educational services are perhaps even more able to achieve efficiency and coverage gains than the extractive and manufacturing industries. The transformation of economies by ICT is not accomplished by giving every poor person a computer, but rather by appropriate investments in technology where they will have the highest benefit-to-cost ratio. In societies with pro-poor policies, the rising tide of economic growth does in fact raise all boats including those of the poor. And indeed, I suggest, proper applications of ICT for development make those pro-poor policies more likely and more effective.

A $100 laptop

MIT’s media genius has grabbed the headlines, but in spite of the slogan “one laptop for every child”, MIT will be lucky to sell a million laptops in the next few years. MIT’s proposal is not only to revolutionize the market for educational computers in poor countries, but also to revolutionize educational software, and – perhaps more importantly – to revolutionize the pedagogy that surrounds the use of ICT in education and, still more generally, pedagogy itself. MIT will be lucky to produce any significant advances in e-learning in the next few years, much less to convince large numbers of teachers to utilize them.

But what happens if a million $100 laptops are put into place that would not otherwise be there? They would probably go to places with some economic possibilities, and would probably go to train kids who would eventually join an intellectual elite. They would probably go to places with educational administrators more adventurous than most, and indeed to classrooms with teachers more adventurous than most. The introduction of exciting new equipment and exciting new teaching methods and aids would be likely to improve the learning environment immeasurably. Getting a million kids into such an environment, and enabling them to join an intellectual elite in their nations after such an experience seems a great accomplishment to me.

John Daly

Thursday, November 17, 2005

News from WSIS

Read the full article from the International Herald Tribune.

More than 16,000 people from 176 countries are attending the three-day World Summit on the Information Society.

Microsoft Corp., unveiled a new network of learning centers in Tunisia that will train people to be teachers in technology. The effort is part of a joint push with UNESCO to make technology easier to understand and, ultimately, to spread its reach across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. "We welcome this project for its scope and potential," said Koichiro Matsuura, UNESCO's general director.

Late Wednesday, a text-book sized laptop boasting wireless network access and a hand-crank to provide electricity was unveiled by Nicholas Negroponte, Chairman of MIT Media Lab. The machines will sell for US$100, making them accessible to millions of school-aged children worldwide, he said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Civil Society Protests Tunisian Human Rights Actions at WSIS

In the face of police repression, civil society cancels activities: Many international NGOs taking part in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) collectively decided to cancel their activities planned for November 15, at WSIS. This measure was to make government, private sector and civil society delegates aware of the human rights violations over the previous two days, including beatings of journalists by police and the breaking-up of meetings since November 13. It was also a clear showing of solidarity with all independent NGOs in Tunisia.

Police Repression: At 09.30 am on Monday, November 14, 2005, at the Place d’Afrique in Tunis, more than 30 plainclothes policemen -- under the incredulous eyes of the participants at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) -- manhandled, insulted, and then violently beat journalists and human rights defenders.

Website Closed: The website of the Citizens' summit on the information society (CSIS) was effectively off-line to all internet users in Tunisia including delegates to the UN summit on the information society on November 14. It appears that Tunisian authorities have started to intensify their crackdown on legitimate initiatives related to the World Summit on the information Society (WSIS).

WSIS Newsroom

Click here for the newsroom of the Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society.

"US to keep control of domain names"

Read Andy Sullivan and Astrid Wendlandt's article on Reuters/Yahoo! News.

"The United States will keep control of the domain-name system that guides online traffic under an agreement on Wednesday seen as a setback to efforts to internationalize one of the pillars of the Internet."

"Negotiators at the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society said they had agreed to set up a forum to discuss "spam" e-mail and other Internet issues and explore ways to narrow the technology gap between rich and poor countries.

"But oversight of the domain-name system will remain with the United States, a setback for the European Union and other countries that had pushed for international control of one of the most important technical aspects of the Internet......

"Under the agreement, a California nonprofit body known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, will continue to oversee the system that matches addresses like 'reuters.com' with numerical addresses that computers can understand.

"Individual countries will have greater control over their own domains, such as China's .cn or France's .fr. Disputes have arisen on occasion between national governments and the independent administrators assigned to manage these domains by ICANN.

"Businesses, technical experts and human-rights groups will be allowed to participate along with governments in the forum, which will first meet in early 2006.

"'Internet governance requires a multi-stakeholder approach. This is why we have suffered such agonies in our discussions on Internet governance,' said Yoshio Utsumi, who heads the International Telecommunications Union, the UN organization that sponsored the summit."

UNESCO is one of the sponsors of WSIS. Internet governance was seen as potentially one of the most contentious issues of the meeting!

"A low-cost laptop for every child"

Read the full article by Christa Case in the Christian Science Monitor.

"Effort to link the world's rural poor to the Internet with a $100 computer gets a boost from the United Nations.

"In Cambridge, Mass., Nicholas Negroponte and his team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been chipping away at a long-held dream: producing a laptop so cheap that governments could afford to link every child in the world to the Internet.....

"Mr. Negroponte, chairman of MIT's Media Lab, will unveil his brainchild with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a technology meeting in Tunisia. The meeting of the UN's World Summit on the Information Society is aimed at beginning to put into effect its stated goals where "everyone, everywhere should have the opportunity to participate" in the benefits of information technology."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Measuring Linguistic Diversity

Read the UNESCO book online.

Subtitle: "A collection of papers by: John Paolillo, Daniel Pimienta, Daniel Prado, et al."


"UNESCO has been emphasizing the concept of “knowledge societies”, which stresses plurality and diversity instead of a global uniformity in order to bridge the digital divide and to form an inclusive information society. An important theme of this concept is that of multilingualism for cultural diversity and participation for all the languages in cyberspace. There is a growing concern that in the efforts to bridge the digital divide, hundreds of local languages may be side-stepped, albeit unintentionally. Hence, the importance attached to linguistic diversity and local content as part of an Action Line of the WSIS Action Plan for which UNESCO has the responsibility of coordination.

"The issue of language diversity on the Internet proves to be central to the debate on the Information Society in a number of unexpected ways. At first glance the question seems to revolve around the communities using the Internet – allowing communities to talk to each other in their own mother tongues, but other questions quickly follow.

"Through what channels does communication happen across the Internet? The World Wide Web is a series of information sources which provide little interactivity. Discussion fora and email provide more direct interchange. However there is insuffi cient information about the languages used in email or discussion fora (see some discussion of this by Paolillo’s paper below Chapter 3 , including the work of Sue Wright). For most language analysis researchers therefore turn to Web pages. Here, as in all communication, we must consider the character of the audience. A Web page is only read by people who have Internet access. Thus while linguistic diversity might be served by having Web pages in the ‘vanishing’ language of a very remote tribe, few people would read them as it is unlikely that tribal members have Internet access. Pages about the language of the tribe in a more international language would however serve an important role in drawing attention to the cultural value of the language concerned, and perhaps attract support for the linguistic group concerned. It is in addition, a contribution to the preservation of endangered languages.

"The papers in this volume demonstrate that there are many technical problems in calculating language diversity on the Internet. We can easily produce a random count of Internet pages by using any number of commercial search engines, but we cannot judge how often Web pages are read or whether the reading of a page helped the reader in any way. Care has to be taken to ensure that the items searched for in different languages are equivalent in their value, meaning and usage (See Pimienta).

Monday, November 14, 2005

Celebration of UNESCO’s 60th Anniversary

Read the full UNESCO media announcement of the event.

Claude Levi-Strauss, one of the founders of contemporary anthropology, Federico Mayor and Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, former Director-Generals of UNESCO, several Heads of State and Government and numerous other personalities will participate in a ceremony on November 16, 2005 (9.30 – 12.30) marking the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Organization’s Constitution. The ceremony will take place in the UNESCO heaquarters in Paris. It will be followed by an international symposium which will bring together some 60 historians, anthropologists and philosophers.

"On November 16, 1945, representatives from 37 countries gathered in London decided to create an organization dedicated to building peace through education, science and culture. Sixty years later, the Organization is undertaking a critical review of its past directions, activities and results in order to respond to the new challenges of the 21st century."

"UN ICT Task Force Series 8: The World Summit on the Information Society: Moving from the Past into the Future"

Read the full report from the UN ICT Task Force.

"Any world summit is challenging to design and to organize: the World Summit on the Information Society exceptionally so. This book describes, through the voices of some of its major actors, essential parts of the complex undertaking of the WSIS, from conception to realization. The work of many participants culminated in the Geneva Declaration and Plan of Action, as well as in the ICT4D Platform. When moving forward, it is important to remember history. WSIS already has a history of its own. This book is not a history book. But the stories, the contributors to this book tell us, are part of this history. The target audience of this book goes beyond the “usual suspects” and insiders, who has lived and worked in the 'WSIS spaceship' for more than two years. The book will reach out to a broader public, because the Information Society is for everybody. The individual articles of this book will enable readers to get a better understanding of the complex issues raised by the WSIS process. It gives the opportunity to see the different perspectives of different players and stakeholders, the controversies and conflicts, which will continue to exist when the process goes ahead. Readers will get firsthand information and personal impressions on how WSIS I was done by governmental negotiators, who have been heavily involved in the deal-making inside and outside the conference halls of the International Geneva Convention Center and the Palais des Nations where most of the sessions took place. Representatives of the private sector and civil society give their perspectives and write about the expectations they have when they discuss the future of the WSIS process. And academic observers add some theoretical analysis which helps to put single issues into a broader context."

"Control the Internet? A Futile Pursuit, Some Say"

Read John Markoff's full article in The New York Times. (Registration required.)

"A meeting sponsored by the United Nations this week in Tunis will take up a challenge to American authority over Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Icann was established in 1998 to manage the Domain Name System, or D.N.S., which assigns network names like disney.com and assures unique addresses.......

"The Tunis meeting, called the World Summit on the Information Society, will consider calls for an end to unilateral American oversight.

"'Everyone seems to think that the D.N.S. system is a big deal, but it's not the heartbeat of the Internet,' said Leonard Kleinrock, a computer scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who did pioneering research in data packet switching, the fundamental technique underlying networks. 'Who controls the flow of the ocean? Nobody controls it, and it works just fine. There are some things that can't be controlled and should be left distributed.'

"To varying degrees, the nine proposals to be considered by as many as 15,000 delegates convening Wednesday to Friday in Tunis call for replacing the United States as the overseer of Icann with a new international political structure, perhaps a treaty-based organization like the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency.........

"In recent years, Icann has become a lightning rod, focusing opposition to American political and economic power. A group of countries, led by developing nations like Iran, China and Brazil, has put forward a range of proposals calling for Icann's management to be made international; most call for a shift to a group like the United Nations. Over the summer, a European Union commissioner offered a parallel proposal.

"At Tunis, "either there will be an agreement, or an agreement on how to go about getting an agreement," Arthur Levin, a representative of the International Telecommunication Union and the chief organizer of the meeting, said in a telephone interview on Friday..........

"'The idea of taking over Icann is a nonstarter,' said Robert Kahn........'There is nothing in there to control, and there are huge issues that the governments of the world really do need to work on.'"

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The World Summit on the Information Society

The second phase of WSIS will take place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005. UNESCO is, of course, a sponsor of WSIS, and I previously posted information on UNESCO's participation in WSIS, including a link to UNESCO's WSIS website.

My friends at the Development Gateway have produced a highlight on the Information Society in honor of WSIS. Perhaps more important, the ICT for Development Community of the Development Gateway has created a database of (currently) 345 resources related to WSIS. This may help those seeking some perspective on how the discussions have evolved relative to WSIS over the last several years.

India to host Asian biotech training centre

Read the full article by Wagdy Sawahel in SciDev.Net.:

"India is to host a US$7 million centre to provide biotechnology training and research opportunities for scientists from across Asia.

"The centre, which was given official backing by UNESCO last month, will also be a hub for biotechnology research, promoting South-South cooperation.

"The Indian science ministry's department of biotechnology will run the centre, which is likely in the capital New Delhi, although this has not yet been confirmed.

"India is contributing core funding for the centre, but once it is set up, the government will seek additional funds from UN agencies and other international bodies."

The World Science Forum

Go to the Forum website.

The World Science Forum, organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, UNESCO and the International Council for Science (ICSU), was held November 10-12, 2005 in Budapest (Hungary). Some 400 scientists, political decision-makers, and representatives of non-governmental organizations and private enterprise attended the event, on the theme Knowledge, Ethics and Responsibility. The opening of the Forum coincided with the World Science Day for Peace and Development, celebrated each November 10.

Among Americans scheduled to attend were Peter A. Freeman, (Assistant Director, National Science Foundation), Peter D. Lax (Abel Laureate winning mathematician, New York University) and Alan I. Leshnet (CEO, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences).

UNESCO Awards Science Prizes

Read the full media release.

On November 11, 2005, the first day of the World Science Forum, seven UNESCO science prizes were awarded.

The 2005 Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science was awarded to Jeter Jorge Bertoletti (Brazil). Professor at the Pontific Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) Jeter Jorge Bertoletti is also founder and director of the university’s science and technology musem, which is now the biggest science museum in South America. In 2001, he launched the Itinerant Museum Project. This museum in a truck proposes exhibitions, experiments and conferences to communities in Rio Grande do Sul. Jeter Jorge Bertoletti has also published numerous articles in a range of reviews, periodicals and annals. The Kalinga Prize, created by the Kalinga Foundation Trust (India) is awarded annually to encourage dialogue between scientists and the general public.

The Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology has been awarded to Professor Khatijah Binti Mohamad Yusoff (Malaysia) from the Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor. She is involved in vaccine research and research on poultry virus and the Newcastle Disease Virus and is a member of numerous national and international scientific organizations. The Carlos J. Finlay Prize, is named after a famous 19th century Cuban biologist and is funded by a grant from the Government of Cuba.

The Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists has been awarded to Professor Dong-Lai Feng (China), from the Fudan University in Shanghai. At the age of 33, he already leads the research group of complex quantum systems, which is part of the Shanghai Laboratory of Advanced Materials. His research covers superconductivity, strongly correlated systems, magnetism, nano-science and development of new techniques such as laser photo-emission and resonant soft x-ray scattering. He has made significant contributions to current understanding of high temperature superconductivity. The Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists was established in 1984 with a donation by Professor Javed Husain of India. The prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding pure and applied research carried out by young scientists under 35 years of age.

The UNESCO Science Prize has been won this year by Professor Alexander Balankin (Mexico), from the National Polytechnic Institute, for his work on fractal mechanics and improving exploration techniques for the oil industry. A Mexican citizen born in Russia, he founded the National Interdisciplinary Research Group “Fractal mechanics” and the Escuela Superior de Ingeniería Mécánica y Eléctrica.

The Great Man-made River International Water Prize is awarded to Dr. Sayyed Ahang Kowsar (Iran) who has devoted his life to developing and implementing floodwater spreading and harvesting as a means of recharging aquifers and improving environmental quality. The prize is awarded in recognition of fundamental and substantial contributions to the assessment, development, management and/or use of water resources in arid and semi-arid areas. It is funded through a donation from the Government of Libya.

The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation is awarded jointly to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority of Australia and to Dr Ernesto Enkerlin-Hoelflich (Mexico). The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is the principal advisory to the Australian Government on the planning and management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ernesto Enkerlin-Hoeflich is the President of the National Commission on Natural Protected Areas of Mexico. Under his leadership, five new Mexican biosphere reserves had been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation rewards outstanding contributions by individuals or groups of individuals, institutions or organizations in the preservation of the environment, and is funded through a donation from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said of Oman.

The Institut Pasteur-UNESCO Medal is awarded to Professor Mireille Carmen Dosso (Côte d’Ivoire). As Director of the Institut Pasteur of Côte d’Ivoire, she has been active in research and prevention activities in the area of HIV-AIDS as well as other tropical diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and poliomyelitis. The award is presented for outstanding and innovative contributions to health, fermentation, agriculture and food.

International Symposium on UNESCO's History

Go to the website for the Symposium.

UNESCO was born on November 16, 1945. On the occasion of its 60th anniversary, UNESCO is hosting, from 16th to 18th November 2005, an international symposium on the Organization’s history, which will take place at its Headquarters in Paris.

More than sixty historians, anthropologists, philosophers and other scholars will speak at round table sessions or in plenary on major themes of UNESCO’s history, such as the birth of the Organization, the vision of humanism and peace, the race question, ideals challenged in the context of cold war and decolonisation, reconciliation, reconstruction, dialogues, education for all, cultural heritage and the social responsibility of the sciences.

This is part of a 60 week long celebration of the anniversary. During the period, "UNESCO endeavours not so much to celebrate its accomplishments but to revive the power of the inspiration that guided its founding fathers. This means rekindling their sense of hope and vision with a view to the future.

Sixty themes were selected to punctuate the sixty weeks between 5 September 2005 and 4 November 2006, anniversary of the coming into force of the International Convention constituting the UNESCO.

The World Water Assessment Program

Click here to go to the WWAP website.

UN Water has undertaken a collective UN system-wide continuing assessment process, the World Water Assessment Program (WWAP). The Program is to evolve with the World Water Development Report (WWDR) at its core. Thus there will be a need to include:
- data compilation (geo-referenced meta-databases);
- supporting information technologies;
- data interpretation;
- comparative trend analyses;
- data dissemination;
- methodology development and modelling.

The program involves collaboration among agencies across the United Nations system. UNESCO is the lead agency for: Sharing water resources and for Ensuring the knowledge base. It is a collaborating agency for: Managing risks and for Protecting ecosystems.

After the World Water Assessment Programme was approved, letters were sent by the United Nations and UNESCO inviting member countries to participate The United States is included in the list of countries whose governments have responded. While many countries have designated national focal points, no focal point is identified for the United States. However, the WWAP website provides 81 links to U.S. water assessment websites.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

UNESCO's International Hydrological Program

The IHP website.

Following UNESCO's major role in the International Hydrological Decade (IHD, 1965-1974) the International Hydrological Program (IHP) was created in 1975. The program has achieved progress on methodologies for hydrological studies and training and education in the water sciences. Now, however, greater emphasis is being put on the role of water resources management for sustainable development and on the adaptation of the hydrological sciences to cope with the expected changing climate and environmental conditions. Another important objective is to integrate the developing countries into the worldwide ventures of research and training.

IHP is a long-term program executed in phases of a 6-year duration. It functions through working groups, symposia, workshops, publications and extra-budgetary projects, the latter especially through the UNESCO Regional Offices where Regional Hydrologists are located.

IHP, over the decades has gone through a profound transformation from a single discipline to a multi-disciplinary programme. Recently, with the increased presence of the social science component, IHP has become a truly inter-disciplinary programme, capitalizing on the recognition that the solution of the world water problems is not just a technical issue.

The current IHP program, IHP-VI, covering the period 2002-2007, is devoted to "Water Interactions : Systems at Risk and Social Challenges".

The Intergovernmental Council of the IHP is a subsidiary organ of the UNESCO General Conference. The Council is composed of 36 Member States. Member States (22) elected at the 32nd session of the General Conference are: Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Egypt, Eritrea, Germany, Iceland, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Turkey, and Yemen. Those elected (14) at the 33rd session of the General Conference are: Australia, Benin, Costa Rica, Haiti, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Nepal, Slovakia, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The National Committees have been set up by the respective governments. Where no National Committee has been established, a Focal Point or National Correspondent in the form of an organization or individual has been identified for channeling information about IHP to and from the country. The United States is represented by Dr. John E. Schefter of the U.S. Geological Survey. The website specified for the U.S. participation is the of the USGS Water Science for Schools website.

Editorial: U.S. Membership in UNESCO's Scientific Governing Bodies

The science program of UNESCO is government not only by UNESCO's General Conference and Executive Board, but by a number of intergovernmental councils that deal with specific programs. The United States, due to its 19 year absence from UNESCO, is not represented in many of these bodies. In the 33rd General Conference, the United States was nominated only for the Intergovernmental Council of the International Hydrological Program, and failed to be elected to that position.

I recommend that the U.S. scientific community work with the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and the Department of State to elect U.S. representatives to other, appropriate UNESCO scientific councils.

To help in that effort, I am beginning a series of short postings in this blog about the scientific programs of UNESCO and their governance.

UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program

Click here to go to the MAB Program website.

"UNESCO’s Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) develops the basis, within the natural and the social sciences, for the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity, and for the improvement of the relationship between people and their environment globally.

"The MAB Programme encourages interdisciplinary research, demonstration and training in natural resource management. MAB contributes thus not only to better understanding of the environment, including global change, but to greater involvement of science and scientists in policy development concerning the wise use of biological diversity.

"Over the next decades, MAB is focusing on new approaches for facilitating sustainable development, through promoting conservation and wise use of biodiversity. By taking advantage of the transdisciplinary and cross-cultural opportunities of UNESCO’s mandate in the fields of education, science, culture and communication, MAB is promoting both scientific research and information gathering, as well as linking with traditional knowledge about resource use. It must serve to help implement Agenda 21 and related Conventions, in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity."

The International Co-ordinating Council of the MAB Program, the ICC, is composed of 34 elected representatives of Member States of UNESCO. The are:

Austria** Belarus* Chile** Congo** Cuba** Czech Republic* Dem. People's Rep. of Korea* Denmark* Dominica* Ethiopia** Gabon** Germany* Ghana* Israel** Italy* Lebanon** Mexico* Mozambique* Myanmar* Nicaragua* Nigeria* Peru* Philippines** Republic of Korea* Romania** Russian Federation* Saudi Arabia* Sri Lanka* Sudan** Sweden** Syrian Arab Republic** United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland** United Republic of Tanzania* Vietnam**

* Members until 34th session of the General Conference, 2007
** Members until 35th session of the General Conference, 2009

Many nations, including the United States, have organized MAB National Committees. Such a committee is responsible for the activities making up the national contribution of a country to the MAB program.

· In co-operation with the UNESCO National Commissions, it serves as a liaison between the different institutions and ministries concerned by the MAB Programme and UNESCO (MAB Secretariat, Division of Ecological Sciences and field offices).
· It also serves to liaise with the national structures responsible for the other UNESCO programmes in environment and development, i.e. the IGCP, IHP, IOC and MOST, with a view to develop joint activities, as appropriate.
· It ensures the national participation, as a member or as an observer, whenever appropriate, in the sessions of the MAB International Co-ordinating Council.

The United States' MAB National Committee is chaired by Dr Barbara Weber of the USDA Forest Service.

"Showdown looms over control of Web"

Read Andy Sullivan's full article on Reuters/Yahoo! News.

"The United States is headed for a showdown with much of the rest of the world over control of the Internet.

"Countries like China, Brazil and Iran don't like the fact that the world's only superpower oversees the system that guides traffic across the global computer network, and have pushed for an international body to take over that role.

"The United States believes such a body would slow the pace of online innovation to a crawl, requiring entrepreneurs to win permission from a cumbersome bureaucracy before introducing services like Internet telephony.

"'It would be akin to having more than 100 drivers of a single bus. Right now we have a driver, and the driver's been doing a good job,' said Assistant Commerce Secretary Michael Gallagher, the U.S. official who oversees the domain-name system.

"Much of the business and technical community that actually runs the Internet agrees with Gallagher. But those groups will be relegated to the sidelines and the United States will find few allies among other governments at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia next week."

"EU takes swipe at U.S. Internet oversight"

Read the full Reuters/Yahoo! News article.

"The European Commission on Friday took a swipe at U.S. oversight of the Internet but offered no concrete alternatives, in advance of an international summit on how the Internet should be run......

"The U.S. Commerce Department has ultimate control of the root zone file, and Washington made clear recently it intends to maintain that role.

"The U.S. Commerce Department was expected to surrender its control of ICANN, but said in July it would 'maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file.'

"Europe cried 'foul,' arguing Washington changed the rules of the game and plans to keep permanent control of the system.

"'There was an agreement that the Department of Commerce control would be phased out but this summer the United States announced they would maintain this oversight function,' a Commission official said.

"A second European official added: 'We just say this needs to be addressed in a more co-operative way ... under public policy principles.'

"Both officials asked not to be identified."

"APC's Recommendations to the WSIS on Internet Governance, November 2005"

Read the 14 page PDF document.

Since UNESCO is one of the sponsors of the World Summit on the Information Society, and since Internet governance is one of the hot issues before WSIS, this resource may be of interest to the readers of this blog. The Association for Progressive Communication is an international network of NGOs, and its recommendations tend to oppose the position of the U.S. government.