Thursday, June 30, 2005

Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System formally established - Work begins on systems for the Caribbean and the Mediterranean

UNESCO press release:

"The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System formally came into existence today with the establishment of an Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) to govern it. The 23rd Assembly of UNESCO�s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) also adopted resolutions establishing similar bodies for the Caribbean and adjacent regions as well as the North-East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas. "

Twenty-three New Biosphere Reserves Added to UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Network

UNESCO's Press Release

"Twenty-two new sites in 17 countries as well as one transboundary site between Senegal and Mauritania have been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. An extension to an existing Biosphere Reserve was also approved. The Network now consists of 482 sites in 102 countries.

"The additions and changes to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which illustrate its vitality and the continuous efforts made to improve its quality, were approved by the Bureau of MAB’s International Coordinating Council during its meeting on June 27 to 29 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The MAB Programme has been pioneering the practice of sustainable development on a scientific basis for over 30 years.

President Bush Makes Major Policy Speach on G8 Summit and Progress in Africa

Read the speech here

President Bush today made a major policy speech, focusing on the upcoming G8 meeting in Scotland. Some key passages are quoted below:

"We seek progress in Africa and throughout the developing world because our interests are directly at stake. September the 11th, 2001, Americans found that instability and lawlessness in a distant country can bring danger to our own. In this new century, we are less threatened by fleets and armies than by small cells of men who operate in the shadows and exploit weakness and despair. The ultimate answer to those threats is to encourage prosperous, democratic and lawful societies that join us in overcoming the forces of terror -- allies that we're finding across the continent of Africa. We fight the war on terror with our power; we will win the war on terror with freedom and justice and hope."


"Economic aid that expects little will achieve little. Economic aid that expects much can help to change the world. Through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, established a year-and-a-half ago, America has begun awarding generous financial aid to countries that fight corruption, embrace democratic government, encourage free markets, and invest in the health and education of their people.

"Eight nations in Africa are now moving toward grants. In April, Madagascar became the first country to sign a compact that begins aid to vital development projects. In the last six weeks, the MCC board has approved three compacts, one with an African nation -- and I expect the MCC to move quickly in the future. Governments making the hard choices deserve our strong support. I call upon the United States Congress to fully support this initiative for new hope and progress across the developing world."


"The best way to help nations develop while limiting pollution and improving public health is to promote technologies for generating energy that are clean, affordable and secure. Some have suggested the best solution to environmental challenges and climate change is to oppose development and put the world on an energy diet. But at this moment, about two billion people have no access to any form of modern energy. Blocking that access would condemn them to permanent poverty, disease, high infant mortality, polluted water and polluted air.

"We're taking a better approach. In the last three years, the United States has launched a series of initiatives to help developing countries adopt new energy sources, from cleaner use of coal to hydrogen vehicles, to solar and wind power, to the production of clean-burning methane, to less-polluting power plants. And we continue to look for more opportunities to deepen our partnerships with developing nations. The whole world benefits when developing nations have the best and latest energy technologies."


"In 2001, I challenged the World Bank to give 50 percent of its aid to poor countries in grants instead of loans. And the bank has moved steadily closer to that goal. With the leadership of Great Britain and the United States, the G8 countries are urging cancellation of $40 billion in debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest nations, including 14 nations in Africa. (Applause.) Twenty more countries can qualify for this debt forgiveness in the future with good government and sound economic policies. We're determined not only to relieve debt, but to erase it, so nations in need can face the future with a clean slate."


"Overcoming extreme poverty will require greater trade. While aid and debt relief can create better conditions for development, it is trade that provides the engine for development................Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which has reduced barriers to trade, U.S. exports to sub-Sahara Africa increased 25 percent last year. And America's imports from AGOA countries rose 88 percent. Now we must take the next large step: expanding the entire global trading system through the Doha negotiations. The World Bank estimates that completing these negotiations could add $350 billion annually to developing countries' incomes, and lift 140 million people out of poverty. The Doha negotiations are the most practical and important anti-poverty initiative in the world, and we must bring them to a prompt and successful conclusion.


"Overcoming extreme poverty will require an atmosphere of peace, achieved in some cases by effective active military forces that can end terrible conflicts..........Over the next five years, America will provide training for more than 40,000 African peacekeepers as part of a broader initiative by the G8 countries. We will help African forces to preserve justice and order on the African continent.

"We're strongly committed to peace for all the peoples of Sudan. American mediation was critical to ending a 20-year civil war between north and south, and we're working to fully implement the comprehensive peace agreement signed last January. Yet the violence in Darfur region is clearly genocide. The human cost is beyond calculation. In the short-term, more troops are needed to protect the innocent, and nations of the African Union are stepping forward to provide them. By September, the African Union mission in Sudan will grow from 2,700 to 7,700 personnel. In a NATO operation next month, the United States military will airlift more than 1,000 Rwandan troops. We will support the construction of additional 16 base camps over the next two months, and we will provide communications and vehicle maintenance for the entire force."


"Overcoming extreme poverty will require humanitarian aid that focuses on results, not merely on inputs and other flawed measures of compassion. True compassion is measured by real improvements in the lives of men, women and children. And that is the goal and that is the focus of American policy.

"Aid from America will help avert a famine this year in the Horn of Africa. All told, nearly 60 percent of global food aid to the continent of Africa comes from the United States, and Americans are proud to give that aid.

"And since 2003, our country has undertaken a major effort against HIV/AIDS, the largest health initiative in history to combat a specific disease. Across Africa, we're working with local health officials to expand AIDS testing facilities, to train and support doctors and nurses and counselors, to upgrade clinics and hospitals, to care for children orphaned by AIDS, and to support pastors and priests and others who are teaching young people the values of respect and responsibility and prevention. We're making life-giving treatment possible for more than 230,000 adults and children in Africa. We're determined to reach our five-year goal of treating two million.

"This effort is succeeding because America is providing resources and Africans are providing leadership. Local health officials set the strategy and we're supporting them. We're also respecting the values and traditions of Africa. Uganda and other nations are applying a prevention strategy called ABC -- Abstinence, Be faithful in marriage, and Condoms. ABC is balanced, effective, and reflects the moral teachings of African cultures. And no one is helped when outsiders try to impose a lower standard of responsibility."


"This morning, I announced three additional initiatives to help Africans address urgent challenges. Across the continent, there is a deep need for the empowerment of women, and that begins with education. Educated young women have lower rates of HIV/AIDS, healthier families, and higher rates of education for their own children. Yet only half of the children complete primary education in Africa.

"Together with African leaders, we must work for the education of every African child. And to move closer to that goal, today, I proposed a double funding for America's African Education Initiative. (Applause.) In the next four years, we should provide $400 million to train half-a-million teachers, and provided scholarships for 300,000 young people, mostly girls. (Applause.) We hope other nations will join us. We must give more girls in Africa a real chance to avoid exploitation and to chart their own future.

"Another important aspect of empowerment and the fight against AIDS is the legal protection of women and girls against sexual violence and abuse. (Applause.) Many African nations have already taken steps to improve legal rights for women. South Africa, for example, has an innovative model to fight rape and domestic violence: special units in hospitals where victims can report crime and receive counseling and care, and special judges and prosecutors and police units to ensure that criminals are punished.

"Today, I announce a new effort to spread this approach more broadly on the continent. I ask Congress to provide $55 million over three years to promote women's justice and empowerment in four African nations, nations that can stand as examples of reform for others. I'll urge other G8 nations to join us in protecting the lives and the rights of women in Africa.

"African health officials have also told us of their continuing battle with malaria, which in some countries can cause more death than AIDS. Approximately 1 million last year alone died on the African continent because of malaria. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, the victims are less than five years old, their lives suddenly ended by nothing more than a mosquito bite. The toll of malaria is even more tragic because the disease, itself, is highly treatable and preventable. Yet this is also our opportunity, because we know that large-scale action can defeat this disease in whole regions. And the world must take action. (Applause.)

"Next week at the G8, I will urge developed countries and private foundations to join in a broad, aggressive campaign to cut the mortality rate for malaria across Africa in half. And our nation is prepared to lead. (Applause.) Next year, we will take comprehensive action in three countries -- Tanzania, Uganda and Angola -- to provide indoor spraying, long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, and effective new combination drugs to treat malaria. In addition, the Gates Foundation of Seattle is supporting a major effort to control malaria in Zambia. We've had a long tradition of public-private action. I'm grateful to have this strong partner in a good cause.

"America will bring this anti-malaria effort to at least four more highly endemic African countries in 2007, and at least to five more in 2008. In the next five years, with the approval of Congress, we'll spend more than $1.2 billion on this campaign.

"An effort on this scale must be phased in, to avoid shortages of supplies. Yet we intend this effort to eventually cover more than 175 million people in 15 or more nations. We want to reduce malaria mortality in target countries by half, and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

"I urge other wealthy nations and foundations to participate and expand this initiative to additional countries where the need is pressing. Together, we can live this threat and defeat this fear across the African continent."

United Nations Day at Expo 2005 Aichi

UNESCO United Nations Pavilion website:

"Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, representing the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter on Monday, 27 June, United Nations Day at Expo 2005 Aichi (Japan)."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New Edition of A World of Science

The new edition of A World of Science is now online.

One article addresses the inquiry-based teaching method, and how it is reconciling primary school children – and their teachers – with science. “Learning by doing” sets out to make learning science fun while teaching children to think both imaginatively and rationally. This international movement is gaining momentum, thanks largely to the efforts of the scientific community.

Howard Moore is interviewed on how UNESCO is helping countries of Southeast Europe to heal the wounds of the past by looking to the future. By fostering regional co-operation, UNESCO is contributing to making the European Research Area planned for 2010 truly pan-European.

The issue also examines the findings of a landmark study published on 30 March which reveals that approximately 60% of the ecosystem services supporting life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report, to which UNESCO contributed, warns that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow much worse in the next 50 years. We look at the implications of environmental degradation for countries’ chances of reaching the Millennium Development Goals, with a focus on Southern Africa.

Together with the Organization of American States, UNESCO is mapping transboundary aquifers in the Americas, 65 of which have been identified to date. These aquifers stock significant quantities of groundwater that is a veritable treasure for governments. To protect this resource and ensure that local populations benefit from it, UNESCO and the OAS are working with governments from the region to identify ‘critical cases’ for pilot projects strengthening the joint management of shared groundwater.

Monday, June 27, 2005

World Leaders Mark U.N.'s 60th Anniversary

LA Times story:

"Dozens of international leaders celebrated the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' birth, but warned that the organization must institute significant reforms to remain an effective global peacekeeper.

"The Bush administration signaled its discontent with the world body by sending a single representative to the commemoration. Delegate Sichan Siv, who represents the U.S. on the U.N. Economic and Social Council, did not speak at the anniversary celebration.

"While officials gave emotional addresses about human rights and the organization's successes in forging global peace, speakers emphasized that the U.N. must restructure and redefine its goals to counter terrorist threats."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"UNESCO: What it is, What it Does"

Download the nine page brochure.

This brochure, published in 2003, provides a brief introduction to UNESCO.

"NEWS ALERT: UNESCO Division of Earth Sciences Terminated"

International Commission on Stratigraphy alert (undated)

"News has reached the International Union of Geological Sciences that UNESCO has decided to dissolve the Division of Earth Sciences. Following the retirement of Dr. Wolfgang Eder (Division Director) at the end of November 2004, a decision not to replace the Director was made by UNESCO. Further, UNESCO intends to dissolve the existing Division, reduce funding to the geosciences and to reallocate existing activities amongst other divisions.

"Although an 'official press release' will not occur until this spring, it is now known that the following activities: IGCP, Geoparks, International Cooperation, Earth Observation and Capacity Building will now be subsumed within the Division of Ecological Sciences. The Disaster Reduction program will be transferred to the Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences.

"Most disturbing is the news regarding support for the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP). After decades of high profile success in science research, this program will undergo a 50% reduction in funding from UNESCO for 2006. There are no assurances regarding the viability of the programme beyond 2006. Many geoscientists around the world have participated in and benefited directly from IGCP projects and this funding cut will have serious long-term repercussions to our discipline."

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Better neighbors through science

Israel21c article

"Since the Oslo process - even during the tensest of times - scientific cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian academics has continued to take place. Both sides recognize that joint scholarship, particularly between Israeli and Palestinian scientists, can only provide benefit by moving their communities forward economically and intellectually, as well as advancing the cause of dialogue, mutual recognition, reconciliation and peace.

"But until now, joint scientific projects had very limited funding and lacked an umbrella organization to encourage and support them. A new major initiative to solve that problem and encourage such cooperation to grow was recently launched in the form of the Israel Palestinian Scientific Organization.

"The organization will allocate grants averaging $75,000 to selected projects proposed by joint Israeli-Palestinian teams doing scientific work.

"The idea was first conceived in November 2002, at the UNESCO day of Science and Peace and Development, where Menachem Yaari, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al Quds University in East Jerusalem and Torsten Wiesel, Nobel Laureate, and former president of Rockefeller University, gave keynote lectures focusing on the subject."

"Workshop on Engineering and Technology for Poverty Reduction, Emergencies, and Sustainable Development"

Read a report of the Workshop and meeting:

"A meeting of the international network of Engineers Without Borders and associated 'Workshop on Engineering and Technology for Poverty Reduction, Emergencies, and Sustainable Development', were held at UNESCO on 11-13 May 05."

Opening ceremony of the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Copyright Committee

Opening ceremony of the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Copyright Committee:

"The universal system of international copyright protection established under the aegis of UNESCO in 1952 continues to be of vital importance. The Intergovernmental Copyright Committee (IGC) has a set of multifaceted statutory duties, as defined by the revised 1971 text of the Convention, namely, to study questions concerning the application and operation of the Convention, and to examine any other issues concerning the international protection of copyright."

On June 26th, the Director-General of UNESCO opened the 13th session of the IGC.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ashesi University Awarded Prize for Best University Website in Ghana story:

"Ashesi University (in Ghana) has won the award for Best University Website from the Regional Information Network for Africa (RINAF).........RINAF, the competition sponsor, is a programme of the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO)."

Report about UNESCO conference St. Petersburg | EDRI

EDRI-gram special edition (24 May 2005)

"From 17 to 19 May UNESCO organised a large conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, 'Between two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society'. The 450 participants from all over the world were invited to the luxurious Konstantinovsky Palace. In her opening speech Françoise Rivière, the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, described the context of St. Petersburg conference and the special involvement of UNESCO Paris head quarters with a session on cultural diversity."

UNESCO Periodicals

This website provides links to all the UNESCO periodicals listed below

There are eight main publications:
- The New Courier
- Copyright bulletin (Information on legal developments in the field of copyright and related rights)
- Higher education in Europe (The UNESCO-CEPES quarterly review)
- International review of education (IRE) (International journal on the comparative theory and practice of formal and non-formal education)
- International social science journal (International, interdisciplinary and policy-relevant social science)
- Museum international (Scientific and technical information concerning museums and cultural heritage)
- Prospects (Quarterly review of comparative education)
- World heritage review (Articles and news about natural and cultural World Heritage sites)

There are also 29 newsletters and bulletins:

- Adolescence education newsletter (UNESCO Office Bangkok and Regional Bureau for Education newsletter)
- APPEAL bulletin (Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All) (Reports on progress of on-going projects and activities of Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All)
- Asian Academy for Heritage Management newsletter (Published by UNESCO Bangkok Office)
- ASPnet newsletters (UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network Nawsletter)
- Bangkok's Newsletter
- Boletín digital en Educación superior (Published by the International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC))
- Le Carnet du coordinateur (Une ressource internationale pour le développement de la petite enfance)
- Connect (International science, technology and environmental education newsletter. Russian version also available)
- Education today (Education sector newsletter)
- Educational INNOVATION and Information (Short articles on current educational research and activities being conducted at the IBE, as well as news from the field of comparative education.)
- IIEP's newsletter (Published be the International Institute for Educational Planning.)
- IITE's newsletter (Published by the Institute for Information Technologies in Education)
- Infolac (Boletín de información sobre la cooperación entre redes y sistemas nacionales de información en América Latina y el Caribe)
- Infoshare: UNESCO Bangkok Sources and Resources Bulletin (Latest trends and developments on the application of information and communication technologies in UNESCO programmes and projects in the areas of education, social and human sciences, culture as well as other development programmes)
- International Journal on Multicultural Societies
- Jakarta's newsletter
- Listening to Africa (Six-monthly bulletin of Africa department)
- News from ICCVOS - UNESCO (International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media
- News from ICTP (Published by Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics)
- Noticias de la UNESCO en Centroamérica (Boletín Informativo de la Oficina de la UNESCO para Centroamérica)
- Peddro (networking of information in the field of prevention of drug abuse through education)
- People and plants handbook (Information sources for applying ethnobotany to conservation and community development)
- Policy Briefs on Early Childhood (Serie of monthly two-pages flash notes on early childhood policy issues which seek to answer various questions on the planning and implementation of ECCE policies.)
- SHS newsletter (Provides information on the work of of the organization in the field of social and human sciences)
- UIE Nexus (the quarterly electronic newsletter of the UNESCO Institute for Education (UIE))
- UNESCO-UNEVOC Bulletin (Published by UNESCO's International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training)
- UNISIST newsletter (The Newsletter provides information on the activities of the UNESCO Information Society Division and other related issues.)
- A World of Science (Natural Sciences' Quarterly newsletter)
- World Heritage Newsletter (Up-to-date accounts of policy-making and issues facing World Heritage)

Uganda CMCs Scoop Awards story :

"Two community multimedia centres supported by UNESCO in Uganda reaped the rewards of their efforts to impact at the grassroot level earlier this month, when they dominated the UNICEF Children's Broadcasting Day Awards. 'This is a milestone for community radio', commented Nabweru CMC manager Edward Juuko as he collected two prizes. The competition, which assessed the best dramatic program and the best participatory programming, attracted entries from a number of both commercial and community radios. "

[Koichiro Matsuura]Being prepared for the next tsunami

The Korea Herald article:

"An interim tsunami warning system is operating in the Indian Ocean basin. The Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has overseen the installation or upgrading of tide gauges, deep ocean pressure sensors and seismic equipment across the region. This equipment is already transmitting information about climate, tide changes and other scientific data at hourly intervals.

"IOC teams have also been sent to several Indian Ocean countries to assess their needs with a view to helping them set up national plans for dealing with such disasters, including public education programs, communications and other vital infrastructure such as evacuation routes, emergency accommodation and medical facilities."

G77 developing countries pledge to promote science

SciDev.Net article

Among other things, the Doha Plan of Action approved by a recent meeting of a coalition of 132 developing countries known as the 'G77 and China' has called for UNESCO to develop new programs to support South-South cooperation in science and technology.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Updates, Volume 1, Issue 4, May 2005

Read the May 2005 issue

Interview with Federico Mayor Zaragoza

Read the interview with Federico Mayor Zaragoza :

"In an age of terrorism and pre-emptive wars, Federico Mayor Zaragoza stands out as something of an anomaly: he is an unapologetic believer in, and proponent of, peace. From 1987 to 1999, Mayor served as the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an institution that he reformed substantially during his tenure. He now chairs the Madrid-based Fundacion Cultura de Paz (Foundation for the Culture of Peace), which he founded in 2000, and which takes its impetus from the United Nations' 1999 Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace."

Human Sciences: Pathways of Thought: UNESCO SHS

Human Sciences: Pathways of Thought: UNESCO' project website :

"How can we grasp the complexity of today's world without studying our cultures and reflecting on our different ways of seeing and knowing? How can we go beyond the contradictions of a modernity faced with growing demands even as its benchmarks are increasingly challenged?

"By acting as a bridge between different schools of thought and specialized knowledge systems, the Pathways of Thought project tries to overcome stumbling blocks to contemporary thought.

"One of the program's priorities is to increase, particularly among developing countries, participation in UNESCO�s strategy to promote intercultural and interdisciplinary reflection on today's ways of thinking, knowledge and values."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP)
International Hydrological Programme (IHP)
Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme
Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme

Fifth meeting of the Steering Group of the five Chairpersons
(Paris, 30 September-1 October 2003)

The role of the Steering Group of the Chairpersons of the five scientific programmes is to guide collaboration and synergy among the five intergovernmental and international scientific programmes.

The Steering Group, at its fifth meeting on 30 September and 1 October 2003, affirms UNESCO’s unique position for helping governments to address today’s complex environment and development issues.

The Steering Group acknowledges that the outcomes of the WSSD and related Millennium Development Goals continue to provide a strategic vision for the five scientific programmes, and this has been reflected in document 32 C/5. The five programmes are united by the common theme of sustainability.

While the setting of priorities has affected the level of support for the different programmes, the Steering Group was pleased to note progress in increasing interaction among programmes, for example in relation to the management of the Volga-Caspian region, biodiversity and remote sensing.

Some lessons have been drawn from this experience.

Added value of collaboration

The Steering Group stresses that within the United Nations, the five UNESCO scientific programmes provide the basic scientific underpinning for understanding global change and feeding into policy decision-making on sustainable development. Collaboration among the five programmes is a considerable asset to implement issue-driven research within a context of rapid socio-economic and cultural change, and thus is central to the concerns of Member States.

Linking with policy-making

The Steering Group emphasizes the need for more policy-driven research and monitoring in the different programmes. This has two dimensions: research informing policy and policy-orienting research. The use of indicators, the establishment of monitoring systems and performing assessments, are essential for measuring the major trends, and providing feedback to policy-makers on the effectiveness of their decisions.

Mechanisms and inducements

The Steering Group is of the view that collaboration between the five science programmes and genuine multidisciplinary engagement will be optimized only if appropriate mechanisms are established that will serve as an inducement. This may involve consideration of partial joint financing.

This leads to the question of governance.

The Steering Group considers that the expertise of the intergovernmental councils guides and should continue to guide the scientific contents and the operational structures at various levels of each programme. These are reflected in the draft C/5 document. The role of the secretariats for facilitating the implementation of the programmes and their interaction is reaffirmed. The Steering Group enumerated several substantive items for collaboration in the short and medium term:
1. The need for UNESCO, in cooperation with ICSU, and other United Nations programmes and agencies, to provide a framework for the data management components of the Earth Observation Systems. This will open many opportunities, for example in coupling these systems with socio-economic parameters and data sets, in reaffirming government implications in these systems, and in helping to translate theirresults more directly into government policy.

2. Joint activities in specific geographic regions, where possible benefiting from the MAB World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Examples mentioned included threatened wetlands such as the Polessia region in Eastern Europe, plus the possibility of joint action in the Caribbean, in West African coastal areas, and in drylands.

3. The endorsement and participation of the five programmes in the proposed UNESCOIUGS International Year of Planet Earth (2005-2007). The desirability of joint action in relation to the International Polar Year (2007-2008) was also identified.

4. Capacity-building, in the context of the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, for which UNESCO is the lead agency, was stressed.

G77 developing countries pledge to promote science

SciDev.Net article:

"A coalition of 132 developing countries known as the 'G77 and China' has approved an action plan that includes a framework for promoting science and technology in the South.

"The 'Doha Plan of Action' was approved at the coalition's second South Summit, held in Doha, Qatar on 12-16 June."

ICT for Capacity-Building: Critical Success Factors

Confernece website:

"UNESCO and the Club of Rome co-organized a three-day 'World Conference on Harnessing the Potential of ICT for Capacity Building' from 11 to 13 May at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The event is one of UNESCO's thematic meetings in preparation for the second meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, Tunisia, 16-18 November 2005)."

The webcasts of the conference are available from this website. The website also provides links to other thematice meetings organized and conducted by UNESCO in support of WSIS. ("Freedom of Expression in Cyberspace;" "Multilingualism for Cultural Diversity and Participation of All in Cyberspace;" and "Cultural diversity")

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

Development Gateway ICT for Development WSIS Resources

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is being held in two phases. The first phase of WSIS took place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003. The second phase will take place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

The leading UN agency organizing the Summit is the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), but UNESCO is a co-organizer. UNESCO maintains a website as part of its contribution to the Summit.

As editor of the "information and communication technology for development" topic page of the Development Gateway, I have been helping to build a resource base for those interested in WSIS, and refer readers of this blog to that data base.

New findings from Peking Man site

UNESCO news release:

"The results of the latest geological and geophysical surveys conducted at the site of the Peking Man in Zhoukoudian (China) will be presented at the Espace EDF Electra* on Tuesday July 5 (11 a.m.) during a joint UNESCO/EDF scientific conference...........

"It is within this framework that the EDF Foundation sent an initial geological and geophysical survey team in 1997, which allowed new cavities to be located. Two other teams followed. The first, in November 2003, put to work new geological survey techniques (ground penetrating radar, tomography, seismic waves) to explore the cavities. The promising findings led EDF to send a second team in November 2004 to take samples with the objective of identifying what was in the caves believed to contain as-yet- unidentified fossils."

Talking books


"JAMAICAN libraries and agencies catering to the visually impaired are working together on a project that will, in the next three years, give blind and visually impaired persons digital access to print material from libraries in Jamaica and possibly the region.

"They are developing a 'Caribbean Digital Collection For the Blind and Print-Disabled' or 'Talking Books'. These are print material that is converted to speech then stored on compact discs, based on an international standard called the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY).

"Phase one of the Talking Books project ends on June 30, a pilot to produce 25 titles being done at the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Radio Education Unit and the National Library of Jamaica, and funded through a $3 million grant from UNESCO and the Canadian Local Initiative Fund."

Establishing Bioethics Committees

Download the PDF version of the book:

"A guide to establishing bioethics committees. For ministers, policy advisers, members of professional and scientific research associations and members of bioethics committees."
Published by UNESCO, 18-04-2005

Tsunami early warning system moves into new phase

UNESCO press release

Yesterday a meeting began "at which UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) will be formalizing the management structure for the tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. The system is due to be fully operational by mid-2006."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Water, sustainable development and conservation of freshwater resources in the world

UNESCO's discussion of the day:

The world celebrated World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17th. "The Day marks the anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCDD); the Convention plays a key role in the world's fight against desertification and drought, both of which contribute to poverty, famine, and the destruction of ecosystems." This year's Day was particularly important in terms of awareness-raising as it set the way for 2006, which has been proclaimed International Year of Deserts and Desertification."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The 23rd Meeting of the IOC Assembky

Materials on the meeting

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) will hold a meeting of its Assembly in Paris during the period 21-30 June, 2005. A one day meeting of the Executive Committee will be held on Monday, June 20th.


UNESCO Hosts Peace and Conflict Seminar

University of Ulster Online - News Release:

The UNESCO Centre, based at the University of Ulster, hosted a Peace and Conflict Seminar for a group of American academics last week.

"The ten-day programme, held in conjunction with the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE), will examine the historical, political and religious history of the conflict, reviewing progress to date and exploring the prospects for peace."

21 projects take home Mondialogo honours

Mondialogo Award News:

"On the evening of 30 May 2005 in Berlin, Germany, DaimlerChrysler and UNESCO presented the Mondialogo Engineering Award with a total of 300,000 euros in prize money. An international jury awarded the prizes to the 21 best project teams from 28 countries."

U.S. participants were included in several of the winning teams. Their projects were:
-Photovoltaics in Rural ICTs: Creating Sustainable Energy in Remote Settings (VietHope)
-Biofuel Development in Rural India (University of Illinois)
-Development of Appropriate & Sustainable Construction Materials (Michigan Technological University and Southern University and A&M College)
-Leapfrogging Urban Transportation Systems in Shanghai, China (University of Texas at El Paso)
-Providing Arsenic-Free Water in Remote Villages in West Bengal, India (Lehigh University)
-Solutions for Muramba, Rwanda: Rebuilding After “Time of Running” (University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Engineers Without Borders)
-Investigation of Appropriate Water and Waste Management Technologies for Cities within Developing Countries; Application to Villanueva, Honduras CA (Colorado School of Mines)
-Lighting Up the Nepalese Villages (Colorado State University)

Friday, June 17, 2005

John E. (Jack) Fobes

A celebration of the life of John E. (Jack) Fobes will take place this afternoon at the offices of the National Academy of Sciences. Fobes was perhaps the most active U.S. supporter of UNESCO during the latter half of the 20th century. He served in the U.S. government before serving as Assistant Director General (1964-71) and Deputy Director General (1971-1977) of UNESCO. He also served as Chair of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, and when the United States withdrew from UNESCO in 1994, Fobes created and served as President of Americans for the Universality of UNESCO (now known as Americans for UNESCO). He died in January. Guests celebrating his life are to include Federico Mayor, Harriet Fulbright, and Harlan Clevland.

Read the tributes to Jack Fobes published by the Association of Former Functionaries of UNESCO (AAFU)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Celebrities amplify the mission of UNESCO

"Goodwill Ambassadors spread the ideals of UNESCO through their name and fame

The Honorary Ambassador for the Decade of Literacy promotes education worldwide, especially for women and children

Special Envoys support and raise awareness of UNESCO's activities

Champions for Sport are truly outstanding sport personalities

Artists for Peace come from the world of arts, music, poetry and literature

Scientists for Peace are famous scientists serving UNESCO's goals"

Thursday, June 09, 2005

World Bank to boost lending for African infrastructure projects

Financial Express article:

"The World Bank plans to increase its funding for infrastructure projects in Africa by 30% over the next few years in a bid to accelerate development and poverty alleviation on the world's poorest continent."

The funding increase underlines the need for UNESCO's new program to strengthen developing country capacity in engineering and science. Engineers are needed to implement these infrastructure projects, and to run the infrastructure.

Message from the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Environment Day, 5 June 2005

Read the entire Message :

"Cities are the most humanized of ecosystems but unfortunately for many people, especially the urban poor, they are also among the most inhuman of places. Air and noise pollution, and lack of access to clean water and green space are some of the negative consequences of unsustainable urban development that turn cities into inhospitable environments to live in. The plight of the inhabitants of the peri-urban areas of cities in developing countries, that is, the informal city, is increasingly acute. Cities also contribute to the degradation of environments far beyond their own borders through their demands for natural resources and because of waste disposal. This being said, if properly planned and managed, cities are also areas of human prosperity and hope, harbouring rich cultural as well as biological diversity. "

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Annual Conference

The first annual meeting of the new U.S. National Commission for UNESCO was held Monday and Tuesday of this week. The event began with breakfast with the First Lady, Laura Bush. Speakers included the chiefs of virtually every government agency dealing with education, science, and culture:

Margaret Spellings (Secretary, U.S. Department of Education)
John Marburger (Science Advisor to the President)
Bruce Cole (Chairman, National Endowment for Humanities)
Dana Gioia (Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts)
James Billington (Librarian of Congress)
R. Terrell Miller (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Global Issues)

Arden Bement (Director of the National Science Foundation) also participated in the meeting as a Commissioner. Ambassador Louise Oliver (U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO) was also in attendance, having flown in from Paris for the meeting.

The National Commission of course includes representatives of the key civil society organizations in the United States with interests in UNESCO. Commissioners appeared very well represented, as did the public. I would estimate that there were 200 to 300 people in attendance.

The meeting was most importantly a briefing by government officials for the Commission, emphasizing government activities related to UNESCO. Commissioners used the meeting as an opportunity to get to know each other, to learn what is expected of the committee, and to begin to make their concerns known to State Department officials.

The meeting was exceptionally well managed, and the sites provided by Georgetown University were beautiful and appropriate to the needs of the event. Marguerite Sullivan, Executive Director of the Commission, is to be congratulated on the job she and her staff had done.

The meeting was transcribed in full, and is to be reported on the website of the National Commission.

Should UNESCO Promote the Development of a World Digital Library?

The most interesting idea discussed at this week's meeting of the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO was the creation of a World Digital Library that would be available worldwide via the Internet. The idea was proposed by James Billington, Librarian of Congress. Several of the subcommittees of the National Commission recommended that the Department of State further consider submit a proposal to UNESCO that it play a lead role in the creation of such a library.

The Library of Congress has created the “American Memory” website, which exemplifies many features of the proposed World Digital Library.

American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.

Currently, American Memory makes some ten million items available. Over the last 15 years, the Library of Congress has added some 100 complementary digital collections to that developed from its own materials. One of the important functions of the American Memory is to help teachers in the education of students, including those in primary school; it allows children to see images of original source materials. It also allows people from the United States and other nations to engage in independent, interactive, inquiry-based learning based on original source materials about America and its peoples.

The Library of Congress is also linking the world’s resources with America’s schools through its Global Gateway Initiative. This website includes collaborating digital libraries developed through collaborations between the Library of Congress and the national libraries of Russia, Brazil, Spain, France and the Netherlands.

With the intervention and support of UNESCO, it might well be possible to expand these models worldwide. Every country could create a national memory website, populated with digital versions of key source materials from its own history. Each nation could provide a gateway for its students and citizens. The gateways would be two directional, providing access to the world’s memory from within the country, and to the country’s memory to those in other nations.
This is a truly “big idea”. There would be important problems to be solved of technology, property rights, coordination, and indeed organization of the information so that it would be available to the users.

Among the international organizations, only UNESCO has a charter that would allow leadership in the development of the World Digital Library. Indeed, UNESCO has a Memory of the World project. It has long had programs supporting library development, and its Libraries Portal links to 160 digital libraries. UNESCO also has an existing e-Heritage program, which is leading through such initiatives as it Digital Heritage of the Silk Road project. UNESCO's programs in education, the sciences, culture and communication and information would all play roles in the conceptualization and development of a World Digital Library.

It should be fascinating to see the evolution of this idea, and the willingness of government, business, academia and civil society in the United States to support and encourage UNESCO in such efforts.