Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

The new issue of A World of Science

The January-March 2008 edition of UNESCO's A World of Science has just been published.

The contents include:
  • Arctic sea ice a record low
  • Ocean observing flotilla hits 3000 mark
  • Report confirms science still dominated by men
  • Children follow in gorilla’s footsteps
  • 23 new biosphere reserves in countdown to Congress
  • Water institute to train 2100 iranians
  • Environment prized at Forum
There is also an editorial by Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Editorial: The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) "has a problem". It is being asked to take on more and more responsibilities, and in fact had a cut in its budget during the last biennium. The recent General Conference of UNESCO ordered the creation of a Working Group on the Future of the IOC. The United States was elected one of the ten members of the Working Group. The Working Group will meet on 19 and 20 February 2008 in UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

A questionnaire has been circulated asking UNESCO's member states to provide information on their views on the IOC and the priorities for it for the future. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO is holding a phone conference on January 7th seeking advice on the U.S. response to the questionnaire.

I think most Americans don't recognize how important the oceans are to our civilization, nor how important is the role of the IOC in coordinating international scientific efforts to understand the oceans. We go to the beaches. Once and a while a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina or the Banda Ache Tsunami gains our attention. Americans fail to recognize the environmental challenges posed by loss of fisheries, degradation of coastal zones, or loss of tropical reefs. The energy crisis has directed attention to off shore drilling.

Since most of the earths surface is ocean, the oceans have huge influence on the weather of our continent, and of all the continents. We will not understand climate change unless we understand the absorption of greenhouse gases by the oceans, and the interaction of the atmosphere and the oceans. Similarly, climate change is expected to have important implications for the oceans, including sea level rise, changes and increases in serious storms, and changes in ocean environments and thus biodiversity. These will in turn have important impacts on the large portion of the world's human population that lives close to the oceans.

If one has any doubt about the economic and security importance of the ocean, just look at the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. The Convention was the result of a decade of negotiations, and has not been ratified by the United States in the 25 years since it was signed. The Bush administration is now asking for Congressional ratification of the treaty.

Mapping and studying oceans involves obtaining data on ocean systems that do not respect national borders. UNESCO and the IOC can legitimate research voyages and other data gathering techniques, making them acceptable to the nations whose waters are studied. UNESCO and the IOC can legitimate the findings of such research, demonstrating that they do not favor one or another party to a dispute among nations.

If there were not an IOC, the world would have to create one. Fortunately, not only is the an IOC, but it has celebrated its 50th anniversary, and is well established as a legitimate intergovernmental scientific institution.

The response to the questionnaire on the future of the IOC requires detailed knowledge beyond that which I possess. Having said that, it is important that the public gives its views on the broader issues involved in the IOC's operation and the solution of the IOC's problems. I suggest that:

  • There is increasing need for scientific understanding of the oceans and the ocean-land and ocean-atmosphere interfaces. The century of climate change faced by the world requires that such information be developed, but so does increasing degradation of ocean environments, increasing anthropogenic pressure on coastal and ocean environments and resources, and increasing need for resources from the oceans.
  • The issues of international ocean policy depend greatly on ocean science, but have broader economic and political aspects; scientific advice is necessary but not sufficient for defining U.S. policy toward UNESCO and the IOC.
  • It is very important not only that the United States' government coordinates with all stakeholders in U.S. ocean policy in formulating its positions on the IOC.
  • ..S/ policy toward the UNESCO's oceanographic activities and the IOC includes concerns for the ocean resources in our own coastal zones, the weather and ocean systems that directly affect our country, and our ocean commerce and shipping.
  • However, the United States as the world's richest and most powerful country has a responsibility to lead in assuring that oceanographic information is developed and made available to all nations, and that the legitimate interests of other nations in ocean science are respected and addressed by UNESCO and the IOC.
  • While there needs to be greater support for IOC programs and activities as they are extended to meet more and more pressing demands, that support should not be achieved by cuts in other critical UNESCO services in education, communications, peace, culture or indeed in other science programs. Thus, UNESCO's budget should grow in the future, given that it has continued success in increasing the efficiency with which it uses resources.
  • I strongly support the IOC and UNESCO's involvement in intergovernmental ocean science, and strongly urge the State Department to be forthcoming in the negotiations about the future of the IOC.
The opinions expressed above are mine and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO or any other group.

John Daly

Thursday, December 20, 2007

UNESCO and HP Sign Strategic Partnership Agreement

UNESCO and Hewlett-Packard (HP) signed a strategic partnership agreement on 19 December to strengthen their collaboration around existing education projects. The signing ceremony, held at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, was attended by Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General and Gabriele Zedlmayer, vice president, Global Citizenship HP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Through the partnership, UNESCO and HP will work together on several projects in the area of education, especially to support UNESCO’s priority of “Education for All". This includes an evaluation on the extension of the existing brain drain project to additional regions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. UNESCO and HP started to collaborate five years ago in South East Europe to help key universities connect to global research networks. In 2006 the project was extended to Africa. The project fights brain drain by providing universities with an advanced technology called grid computing, which allows top quality researchers to play a key role in international research and contribute to economic development in their home countries.

Another project is the World Heritage Map, which enables the general public to visualize the spread of World Heritage sites around the globe, and raises the awareness of the World Heritage Convention. The map is above all an educational tool, allowing UNESCO to communicate its work in this field on a large scale.

In addition HP has provided a financial contribution to UNESCO for the “Printing and distribution of the Man and the Biosphere Map”. The Man and the Biosphere Map will be fully prepared and edited by the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences of UNESCO, which will provide the full lay-out to HP for printing and distribution.

The Computer recycling training guide is also the fruit of UNESCO and HP cooperation: it aims to support local stakeholders, in developing countries in particular, to manage electronic waste. The goal is to support local actors, especially those with a background in managing used computer equipment, and to create environmentally clean and healthy business opportunities. HP is the only technology partner in the project, which also includes the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie - ADEME), EMMAUS, the international movement of solidarity, and TIC ETHIC, Information and Communication Technologies in the service of ethics and sustainable development.

Forging innovations: Community Multimedia Centres in Nepal

Forging innovations: Community Multimedia Centers in Nepal

This collection of case studies on the Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) in Nepal is intended to showcase the interesting and diverse growth of this initiative in spite of conflict and the lack of community radio regulation in the country.

The publication introduces the CMCs and outlines the benefits and challenges that the centers have faced since they were established. Each CMC is discussed in four parts: location and context, organizational structure, programs and sustainability. The case studies show how local communities access and utilise newly available ICT tools in different ways.

In 2003 UNESCO supported the creation of Nepal's first pilot CMC in Tansen, Palpa. Since then, the Organisation has assisted in the creation of two additional CMCs in Nepal, one in Madanphokhara (Palpa District) and another in Lumbini (Rupandehi District). The three CMCs are now networked to five telecentres throughout Rupandehi and Palpa Districts.

The CMC media mix in Nepal consists of FM broadcasting services, cable TV network, design and desktop publishing software applications, audio and video editing, and public access points for Internet, telephone, fax, photocopiers and scanners.

In an effort to understand the social impact of CMCs the authors, Karma Tshering and Kirsty Martin, carried out field visits to the centers. They interviewed managers, staff, local researchers, community reporters, volunteers and community people. Unobtrusive observations of the centres were conducted to gain a sense of the normal daily activities.

By examining three centers concurrently, common themes emerged in the overall functionality of CMCs in Nepal. This study identifies some key issues which can assist CMCs towards their goal of providing ICT access to poor and marginalised communities in regional Nepal

Monday, December 17, 2007

Athelstan Spilhaus: First U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO

The new highlight on the website of Americans for UNESCO begins a series on the pioneers in the creation of the organization and on the establishment of linkages between the United States and UNESCO.

The first person to be profiled is Athelstan Spilhaus, a distinguished scientist, inventor, educator, and popularizer of science who was the first U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO and who served on its Executive Board. Late in his life, when he accurately described himself as a "retired genius", he established a world class collection of more than 3,000 mechanical toys.


The Bureau of Public Information of UNESCO publishes a series of memos, called Memobpi. Here are links to a few of them:

A commitment to peace implies a way of resolving conflicts, not according to the force of might, but by respecting internationally accepted norms, the rule of law and negotiation, with the aim of achieving a fullness of life for each and every one. By its Constitution, UNESCO is called upon to “build the defenses of peace in the minds of men.”
Science and Technology for Development
The overall focus of science, engineering and technology program activity at UNESCO is on human and institutional capacity building

Virtual Conferencing
Planning a virtual conference is rather like planning a journey: before traveling you need to make choices about when and how to travel (by plane, car, train …) based on available time, funds, weight of luggage, etc. Likewise, when planning a virtual meeting, you need to maketheproperchoices…

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Review of UNESCO’s Capacity-Building Function

A review was completed last February or UNESCO’s experience in capacity building and of the international research on capacity building to answer the following questions:
  1. What have UNESCO and others learned about the most effective approaches to capacity building?
  2. What should UNESCO’s role in capacity building be (given UN reforms that emphasize country-led, comprehensive development strategies and collaboration among donor agencies)?
  3. What needs to change within UNESCO in order to do a better job of capacity building?
The purpose of this review was to inform UNESCO's senior management about good practices in capacity-building and to enable UNESCO's Secretariat to improve their capacity-building interventions.

A key finding of the review was:
Most UNESCO staff members interviewed recognize that capacity building needs to get beyond conventional inputs, such as training and technical assistance, in order to bring about sustainable change within institutions. However, much of the Organization’s programming begins and ends there.

Mondialogo Engineering Award Symposium

Mondialogo, a partnership between UNESCO and DaimlerChrysler, works to bring young people together to foster meaningful dialogue and exchange between cultures and civilizations. One major pillar is the Mondialogo Engineering Award, of which two rounds have been held so far.

Participants are young engineers and engineering students from developing and developed countries who have cooperated in mixed teams to develop project proposals which can contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those of poverty eradication and sustainable development, in developing countries.

In June 2007, for the second time, an international jury of prominent scientists selected the top thirty-one nominees, out of 92 participating teams. Ten of these top teams will receive cash prizes of €20,000 each for the initiation of their projects, and twenty of whom will receive honourable mention and €5,000 each in prize money.

The prizes were awarded during the Mondialogo Engineering Award Ceremony & Symposium which will take place in Mumbai, India from 7-10 December 2007.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Global Change in Mountain Regions

©T. Schaaf, Yosemite Nat. Park, USA

Global Change in Mountain Regions (GLOCHAMORE): A world-wide network to study global change processes in mountains has been in operation since October 2003. It is based on some 25 mountain biosphere reserves in all continents that serve as monitoring and study sites. A research strategy has been worked out to:

* detect signals of global change
* identify the consequences
* suggest responses at local and regional scales

Among the more than 100 scientists and bioreserve managers are a number of Americans:
  • Baron, Jill. Dr., Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
  • Bowman, William. Dr., University of Colorado INSTAAR
  • Bradley, Raymond S. Prof., Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts
  • Fagre, Daniel B. Dr., Ecologist/Global Change Research Coordinator, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
  • Graumlich, Lisa. Prof., Big Sky Institute
  • Hansen, Andrew J. Prof. Dr., Montana State University - Bozeman, Department of Ecology
  • Hardy, Douglas. Dr., Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts
  • Kang, Sinkyu. Dr., Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group, School of Forestry University of Montana
  • Malanson, George P. Dr., Department of Geography, University of Iowa
  • Millar, Constance I. Dr., PSW Research Station, Albany
  • Nechodom, Mark. Dr., Sierra Nevada Research Center - Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Porter, Charles. Dr., Director of Patagonia Research Foundation, Maine
  • Taylor, John. Dr. Head, Argonne Regional Climate Center, Illinois
Editor's note: The song you are trying to remember is "How are things in Glocca Mora" from the musical Finnian's Rainbow. I remember because Harry Stockwell, who I knew as a child, was in the road company. JAD.

UNESCO at GK3 in Kuala Lumpur: Towards building knowledge societies

The Global Knowledge Partnership's GK3 is a unique gathering of 2,000 global visionaries, innovators, practitioners and policy makers, all geared to sharing knowledge and building partnerships on a platform created by and for stakeholders from every sector - private companies, governments, international institutions and civil society groups.

UNESCO is participating
actively in the Third Global Knowledge Conference (GK3) from 11 to 13 December 2007 and in its parallel events and exhibits. UNESCO has set up an onsite Community Multimedia Centre (CMC) and an exhibition promoting the concept of CMC in building knowledge societies at the Kuala Lumpur Conventional Center.

Here are a couple of videos from GK3:

Robotics program from the Omar Dengo Foundation in Costa Rica

i4d film festival: Viirtual village

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Office of Director General of UNESCO

Luther H. Evans
The only U.S. citizen to be
elected Director General

The Director General is the chief executive officer of UNESCO. The DG's term of office is four years (previously six years), and the Director General is elected by the General Conference. The current Director General, Koïchiro Matsuura, has been in office since 1999. He was reelected to that post by the 33rd General Conference of UNESCO in 2005. Thus there is some speculation as the election of his successor in 2009.

There have been nine Directors General since UNESCO was founded in 1946:
  • Koïchiro Matsuura from Asia
  • Four from Europe: Federico Mayor (1987 - 1999), René Maheu (1962 - 1974; acting 1959, 1961-1962), Vittorino Veronese (1958 - 1961), and Julian Huxley (1946 - 1948)
  • Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow from Africa
  • Three from North America: Luther Evans (1953 - 1958). John W. Taylor (Acting DG 1952 - 1953), and Jaime Torres Bodet (1948 - 1952)
The position of Director General of UNESCO is an important one within the system of intergovernmental organizations. Therefore the election of a new Director General is the subject not only of electioneering by individual candidates, but also diplomatic negotiations among member nations.

There is an informal understanding that the post should rotate among the (193) member nations of UNESCO, and indeed among continents and groups of nations. Moreover, there are informal understandings about the need to distribute leadership of UN family organizations among nations. (The situation is somewhat different in international financial institutions, programs of the United Nations such as the UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA, and organizations with their own general assemblies such as UNESCO, WHO, and FAO.)

The Islamic nations, which form a large cultural block with significant voting power in United Nations bodies, may see their opportunity in the next General Conference to elect one of their citizens to the post of Director General. You can be sure that State Department diplomats are already debating possible candidates and consulting with their counterparts in other delegations to UNESCO.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Two Foreign Policy Experts Recommend Smart Power

Reference: "Stop Getting Mad, America. Get Smart." By Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye Jr., The Washington Post Sunday Outlook, December 9, 2007.

Richard L. Armitage was deputy secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. Joseph S. Nye Jr., a former assistant secretary of defense, teaches political science at Harvard. They co-chaired the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Commission on Smart Power.

They write:
The world is dissatisfied with American leadership. Shocked and frightened after 9/11, we put forward an angry face to the globe, not one that reflected the more traditional American values of hope and optimism, tolerance and opportunity. This fearful approach has hurt the United States' ability to bring allies to its cause, but it is not too late to change. The nation should embrace a smarter strategy that blends our "hard" and "soft" power -- our ability to attract and persuade, as well as our ability to use economic and military might......the United States needs a broader, more balanced approach (than it has been employing).....

when our words do not match our actions, we demean our character and moral standing. We cannot lecture others about democracy while we back dictators. We cannot denounce torture and waterboarding in other countries and condone it at home. We cannot allow Cuba's Guantanamo Bay or Iraq's Abu Ghraib to become the symbols of American power.......

In a changing world, the United States should become a smarter power by once again investing in the global good -- by providing things that people and governments want but cannot attain without U.S. leadership. By complementing U.S. military and economic strength with greater investments in soft power, Washington can build the framework to tackle tough global challenges. We call this smart power.

Smart power is not about getting the world to like us. It is about developing a strategy that balances our hard (coercive) power with our soft (attractive) power. During the Cold War, the United States deterred Soviet aggression through investments in hard power. But as Gates noted late last month, U.S. leaders also realized that "the nature of the conflict required us to develop key capabilities and institutions -- many of them non-military." So the United States used its soft power to rebuild Europe and Japan and to establish the norms and institutions that became the core of the international order for the past half-century. The Cold War ended under a barrage of hammers on the Berlin Wall rather than a barrage of artillery across the Fulda Gap precisely because of this integrated approach.

Specifically, the United States should renew its focus on five critical areas:
  • We should reinvigorate the alliances, partnerships and institutions that allow us to address numerous hazards at once without having to build a consensus from scratch to respond to every new challenge.
  • We should create a Cabinet-level voice for global development to help Washington develop a more unified and integrated aid program that aligns U.S. interests with the aspirations of people worldwide, starting with global health.
  • We should reinvest in public diplomacy within the government and establish a nonprofit institution outside of it to build people-to-people ties, including doubling the annual appropriation to the Fulbright program.
  • We should sustain our engagement with the global economy by negotiating a "free trade core" of countries in the World Trade Organization willing to move directly to free trade on a global basis, and expand the benefits of free trade to include those left behind at home and abroad.
  • We should take the lead in addressing climate change and energy insecurity by investing more in technology and innovation.
Editorial Comment. This is a very important recommendation. If the next administration decides to adopt a "smart power" policy, UNESCO should be a key instrument of that policy. No organization is better placed on which to build a consortium of like minded nations, and to practice public diplomacy that listens as well as lectures! JAD

Saturday, December 08, 2007

UNESCO's Internal Oversight Service

UNESCO's Internal Oversight Service (IOS), established in 2001, provides consolidated oversight covering internal audit, evaluation, investigation and other management support to strengthen the functioning of the Organization. The IOS website provides links to recent evaluations, as well as guidance for evaluations, and links to evaluation resources.

Some examples are:

UNESCO's 21st Century Talks

The 21st-Century Talks are forums for prospective reflection and future oriented debate that gather together leading figures from different regions of the world. Together with the UNESCO's World Reports they form UNESCO’s Foresight and Anticipation Program.

The Talks are used as the basis for books, articles in leading newspapers and academic journals of different regions of the world, and production of radio and television programs.

Over the period 1999-2005, 27 “21st Century Talks and Dialogs” were organised. There were 118 speeches by 95 different speakers in the series. The three “Dialogues” gathered more speakers (particularly in Seoul with 23 speakers) than the “Talks” with only three or four. “Talks” were organised at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, Barcelona, Durban and Seoul.

As a result of the program, three books – and a total of 21 translated versions - were published.
There is specific information on many of the talks available from the UNESCO website.

An evaluation of UNESCO's Foresight program was published in 2006.
The evaluation report notes:
The activities of the Foresight and Anticipation Program had major support from UNESCO Member States. The “21st Century Talks and Dialogs” are viewed as having dealt with crucial issues for the future which were debated by a highly competent and diverse set of specialists who contributed highly relevant analyses. Member State representatives appreciated the foresight effort made by UNESCO. There is general agreement that Foresight and Anticipation are major missions of UNESCO.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Historical Note: UNESCO and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

One of the first tasks the United Nations assigned to its Human Rights Commission (chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt) was the preparation of what was then referred to as an “international bill of rights.” The Commission was to produce a set of common standards that would serve as a kind of yardstick by which all countries could measure their own and each others’ progress toward making human rights a reality.

At that time, in 1945, no one really knew whether there were any rights with a plausible claim to acceptance in all the cultures of the world, or, if so, what they might be. "To examine those questions, UNESCO appointed a committee of philosophers, including some, such as Jacques Maritain and Benedetto Croce, who were prominent in the West, and others who belonged to Confucian, Hindu, and Muslim traditions. The philosophers in turn sent a questionnaire to other leading thinkers all over the world—from Mahatma Gandhi to Teilhard de Chardin. In due course, the Committee reported that, somewhat to their surprise, the responses they received indicated that there were a number of principles of basic decency that were widely shared—though not always formulated in the language of rights. Gandhi, for example, recommended framing a bill of duties. The Committee’s report, the questionnaire, and several responses are collected in Human Rights: Comments and Interpretations (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ed., 1949)."

The book went through several editions, and appears to have been quite influential, being cited in many other works. As the Universal Declaration celebrates its 60th anniversary, the book is still available through used book dealers.

Source: Mary Ann Glendon, "The Forgotten Crucible: The Latin American Influence on the Universal Human Rights Idea," Harvard Human Rights Journal, Volume 16, Spring 2003.

Eleanor Roosevelt holding
a copy of the Universal Declaration

Human Rights Day, December 10, 2007

Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Universal Declaration of Human Rights poster © UN Photo

Human Rights Day
10 December 2007

UNESCO launches a year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Human Rights Day.

On Human Rights Day, 10 December 2007, at its Headquarters in Paris, UNESCO will unveil the list of activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

> More …
> UNESCO and Human Rights
> More on the Declaration of Human Rights

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

International Migrants Day

It is estimated that some 200 million people live outside of their home countries. And this is not a new phenomenon: Europe, America, and Australia were all built on the influx of millions of people in search of a better life. Since 2000, the international community has designated the 18th of December as International Migrants Day, to celebrate the achievements and highlight the struggles of migrants around the world.

Last year the international advocacy and resource center on the human rights of migrant workers launched Radio 1812, a global radio event. In that event community stations, commercial radios and national and international broadcasters in over twenty countries produced and broadcast on one day more than 50 programs in languages from Chinese and Thai to Spanish and Kazak.

This year, supported by UNESCO and the International Organization of the Francophonie, amongst others, Radio 1812 is back hoping to bring together more radios, more migrants and more concerned citizens to take part in the celebrations on the 18th of December 2007.

60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

© UNESCO/Ivaldo Alves

Celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be launched at UNESCO on 10 December, Human Rights Day. Events commemorating the anniversary will take place over the next year, until 10 December 2008.

The 60th anniversary provides an opportunity to mobilize the whole of the United Nations and to evaluate progress in respecting and promoting human rights. UNESCO will take this opportunity to assess the situation of rights in its fields of competence. UNESCO is planning two international conferences on the subject in 2008: one on human rights education, the other on human rights in the Organization’s other fields of competence. In addition, the 61st International Conference of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which will be organized at UNESCO in September 2008, in partnership with the United Nations Department of Public Information, will focus on the celebration of the Universal Declaration’s 60th anniversary.

The Magic Planet

As a reminder of the importance of outreach and education in enhancing S&T goals, Ambassador Oliver invited the developers of the Magic Planet digital video globe - Global Imagination - to display a portable version of the globe and associated control panel at a reception held by the Permanent Delegation of the United States to UNESCO. The reception was held in conjunction with the General Conference. A larger version of the Magic Planet was used by NOAA and NASA presenters during the Planet Earth: Space to Place exhibit at UNESCO during the Conference. In a hands-on mode, many of the reception’s guests were able change display global datasets ranging from water temperature to population shifts. In an example of public-private-partnership, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO worked closely with Global Imagination on the presentation.

Here is a short video of Magic Planet.

The World Press Freedom Prize 2008

UNESCO invites Member States and regional and international organizations, professional and non-governmental organizations working in the field of journalism and freedom of expression to nominate candidates for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

The purpose of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is “to honour… a person, organization or institution that has made a notable contribution to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially if this involved risk.”

The prize is named after the Colombian journalist who died exercising his profession and has become a symbol of the fight against repression of the media worldwide.

The UNESCO Chair of Mathematics and Economics at Colombia University

Graciela Chichilnisky holds the UNESCO Chair of Mathematics and Economics. She is also a Professor of Statistics at Columbia University and the Director of Columbia’s Center for Risk Management (CCRM). She created Columbia’s Program on Information and Resources (PIR), which is focused on transforming the University’s teaching and research agenda to reflect the growing trend towards globalization and sustainable development. Since 1995, the PIR program attracted major support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from six leading reinsurance companies and the Sloan Foundation.

According to the Washington Post:
Nobel laureates laud her work and call her brilliant; some economists credit her with an important economic theory. She is involved in the economics of fighting global warming internationally, and she was recently elected to the university senate.....

She has two doctorates, in math and economics. It is a combination that allows her to mix social science with hard sciences, according to other economists.

Her work involves issues affecting sustainable development around the world, and she is a key contributor to the economic theory behind the movement to use credits in global markets to control carbon emissions to reduce global warming.

She has taught at several universities, including Harvard, and served as adviser to many international organizations, including the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the United Nations in the areas of international economics and environmental policy.

10 December 2005 - Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December to mark the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New Issue of the UNESCO Courier

© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard
UNESCO campaign «Send my friend to school» (2005). Work by Tara Badcock (Australia)

1990 : The Education for All (EFA) campaign is launched in Jomtien (Thailand). The international community pledges to provide quality basic education to all children, youths and adults.

2000 :In Dakar, Senegal, more than 160 governments set six goals to be reached no later than 2015. The goals concern early childhood education, primary school, life skills, adult literacy, gender parity and quality education.

2007:“We are halfway there and we have good reason to be optimistic,” says, in this issue of the UNESCO Courier, Nicholas Burnett, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education and director of the just-launched 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report. Troublesome areas remain nonetheless, notably early childhood education, gender parity and adult literacy.

Workshop on ethics in sports reporting

Ethical standards in sports journalism, especially with regard to doping, were the theme of a five-day workshop that took place from 5 to 9 November 2007 in Beijing, China.

Organized by UNESCO in close cooperation with the Communication University of China (CUC), the workshop was designed for Chinese sports journalists who will be reporting on the 29th Olympic Games in 2008.

Communicating on HIV and AIDS

Good communication on HIV and AIDS, supported by non-formal education and access to information, can allow people to revise the stigmas and to develop new projects in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

UNESCO has undertaken a number of activities with the aim to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS prevention among young people based on the new possibilities offered by ICT, such as online information, media campaigns and youth information centers. It continues to promote access to comprehensive and reliable youth-friendly information with the special emphasis on disadvantaged groups.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

UNESCO supports free and independent media in Iraq

Iraqi journalists
© Voices of Iraq

There have been 205 media killings in Iraq since March 2003, according to Reporters Without Borders. In order to support free and independent media in this country, UNESCO Iraq Office has recently organized a series of workshops, in the framework of the Communication and Information Programme for Iraq.

UNESCO provides safety training to Palestinian media professionals

Safety training

UNESCO Office in Ramallah and Maan News Network organized a seven-day intensive safety training course for 33 Palestinian journalists, cameramen and photographers in the West Bank. The trainees acquired skills in personal conflict management and safety, risk assessment, surviving in a hostile environment, as well as medical skills.

UNESCO photo contest on The Changing Face of the Earth

The Changing Face of the Earth

UNESCO’s International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) is running a photo contest on the theme of The Changing Face of the Earth, to raise awareness among youth of the state of the planet. There are several cameras and 40 book prizes to be won. Entries close on 30 June 2008.

Contestants may enter in either of the categories:
  • 15-20 year olds and
  • contestants aged 21 years and over.
Each winning contestant will receive a copy of two UNESCO books: Explaining the Earth and The Changing Face of the Earth. In addition, the best entries in each category will win a camera. The names of the winning contestants will be announced in the October 2008 issue of A World of Science and on UNESCO’s science portal.

Photos can be entered in any of ten categories:
  1. Soil – Earth's living skin, Planet Earth in our hands
  2. Groundwater – towards sustainable use
  3. Hazards – minimizing risk, maximizing awards
  4. Earth and health – building a safer environment
  5. Climate change – the ‘stone tape’
  6. Resource issues – towards sustainable use
  7. Megacities – going deeper, building safer
  8. Deep Earth – from crust to core
  9. Ocean – abyss of time
  10. Earth and life – the origins of diversity

UNESCO reasserts its determination to promote women, especially in the fields of science and development

© Micheline Pelletier/Gamma
Pr. V. Narry Kim
L’OREAL-UNESCO Award Nominee

During the recent General Conference, UNESCO and Member States reasserted their determination to mainstream gender issues into all of the Organisation’s activities, while defining UNESCO’s priorities and strategy for the next biennium.

In the coming years, special emphasis will be placed on building capacities among women and young people through training programmes and programmes designed to increase awareness of and access to opportunities in science and technology, as well as improved training for university-level science educators.

21st Century Dialogues: “Making Peace with the Earth”

“Making Peace with the Earth” was the theme of the a session of 21st Century Dialogues, which brought five eminent personalities - Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Hubert Reeves, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Luisa Molina and Mathis Wackernagel - to UNESCO on the 26th of November.

The session was organized around the launch of the book “Making Peace with the Earth”, third anthology of the 21st Century Dialogues, just published in French, English, Spanish and Catalan by UNESCO. In the book, seventeen experts, politicians, scientists and thinkers formulate their answers to the questions:
  • What is the future of the planet?
  • What is in store for humanity?

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day

1 December 2007

We must continue to intensify our efforts, adapt our actions to the epidemiological and social situations on the ground, and mobilize sufficient financial resources for the AIDS response in the time to come. I pledge UNESCO’s firm commitment to fulfilling its role [of leadership] in the global response to HIV and AIDS."

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

UNESCO International Conference and Exhibition on Knowledge Parks

Life Knowledge Park

UNESCO International Conference and Exhibition on Knowledge Parks

Doha, Qatar, March 29-31, 2008

The UNESCO International Conference and Exhibition on Knowledge Parks is to provide a platform for key players around the world to help translate the concept of knowledge societies into concrete solutions for development.

It is to sensitize policy makers to the value of specialized knowledge parks and knowledge hubs to support and drive economic development and capacity building. It creates opportunities for establishing regional cooperation towards building knowledge parks in developing countries, with a special focus on Africa, Arab States and Asia.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How volunteering at Unesco changes lives

In UNESCO and other international organizations, interns are often welcome to work alongside staff on development programs and special projects. And, fortunately for the agencies, many young people are willing to do just that, offering their time in exchange for experience. So, what drives this motivation, and what challenges and lessons are learned along the way?

Read the full explanation by Melinda Sung, an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, who was a volunteer in the Culture Unit, Unesco Bangkok. It is published in The Nation (Bangkok).

Interns have been of great service to Americans for UNESCO, and we are always looking for new volunteers to help with these blogs.

Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology

Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology

Summary: "This conference brought together decision-makers, academics, members of government, and leaders from various facets of civil society to discuss ways in which to better, and more directly, harness scientific and technological progress for the promotion of peace and sustainable development. The large number of participants, hailing from many regions, reflected the importance science and technology has taken on in the international agenda. The Conference explored salient issues such as access to knowledge and benefit sharing, the scope of intellectual property protection, and the ethical boundaries of scientific enquiry. At the centre of the discussions was the creation of knowledge societies in which science and technology are neither the sole realm of academics nor the preserve of an elite segment of society enjoying a privileged access to the benefits and products of scientific achievement. Rather, these knowledge societies should utilize the processes of globalization to foster knowledge creation, sharing and diffusion for the benefit of all." UNESCO, 2006. (PDF, 25 MB)

The U.S.A. at UNESCO’s 34th General Conference

UNESCO held its 34th General Conference at its Paris Headquarters from October 16 to November 2, 2007. The General Conference is held every other year, and is the governing body of the organization, The United States fielded a large delegation for the conference, and participated fully in the event.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings led the U.S. delegation supported by White House Science Advisor, Dr. John H. Marburger, III and National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement..

The Conference notably adopted, by consensus, a resolution on “Holocaust Remembrance” introduced by the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, and Israel and co-sponsored by 65 other UNESCO member states. The resolution “requests the Director-General to consult with the United Nations Secretary-General regarding outreach programs that could play in promoting awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and in combating all forms of Holocaust denial.”

Also adopted was a Resolution introduced by the U.S. and co-sponsored by many African states that urged UNESCO to expedite implementation of the Teacher Training Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA).

The United States Library of Congress chose the General Conference as a platform to launch the World Digital Library project. The project was launched with an exhibit that illustrated how the World Digital Library will operate. Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington hosted a reception for a large number of people at the Conference and the Library of Congress and UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate future collaboration on the project.

Finally, NASA and NOAA provided a special exhibit, a digital video globe displaying various data, called the “Magic Planet,” which was the focal point for a presentation entitled "Observing and Understanding our Globalized World through History, Sciences, Culture, and Communications." This exhibit helped make the overall theme of the General Conference, “Planet Earth: from Space to Place,” a great success.

The U.S.A. at UNESCO’s 34th General Conference

UNESCO held its 34th General Conference at its Paris Headquarters from October 16 to November 2, 2007. The General Conference is held every other year, and is the governing body of the organization, The United States fielded a large delegation for the conference, and participated fully in the event.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings led the U.S. delegation supported by White House Science Advisor, Dr. John H. Marburger, III and National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement..

The Conference notably adopted, by consensus, a resolution on “Holocaust Remembrance” introduced by the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, and Israel and co-sponsored by 65 other UNESCO member states. The resolution “requests the Director-General to consult with the United Nations Secretary-General regarding outreach programs that could play in promoting awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and in combating all forms of Holocaust denial.”

Also adopted was a Resolution introduced by the U.S. and co-sponsored by many African states that urged UNESCO to expedite implementation of the Teacher Training Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA).

The United States Library of Congress chose the General Conference as a platform to launch the World Digital Library project. The project was launched with an exhibit that illustrated how the World Digital Library will operate. Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington hosted a reception for a large number of people at the Conference and the Library of Congress and UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate future collaboration on the project.

Finally, NASA and NOAA provided a special exhibit, a digital video globe displaying various data, called the “Magic Planet,” which was the focal point for a presentation entitled "Observing and Understanding our Globalized World through History, Sciences, Culture, and Communications." This exhibit helped make the overall theme of the General Conference, “Planet Earth: from Space to Place,” a great success.

International Conference on Women's Leadership for Sustainable Development

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
addresses the Conference

Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel
18-22 November 2007

The conference, a biennial event held by the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center, was cosponsored by UNESCO and Mashav (the Foreign Ministry-operated official body for international cooperation).

UNESCO Deputy Director-General Prof. Marcio Barbosa expressed gratitude to the government of Israel for hosting such a major event and to the eminent women leaders who had participated with such great enthusiasm.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ICSU Statement on Recommendations of the Review of UNESCO.s Science Programs

Thomas Rosswall, Executive Director of the International Council for Science, made a supportive statement about UNESCO's efforts to improve its science programs at last month's meeting of the General Conference. He said, among other things:
In particular, we believe that the following recommendations require special emphasis:
  • UNESCO should strengthen its science policy work, but not only in relation to capacity-building in science but also for the development on national knowledge and research systems.
  • We agree that UNESCO should further emphasize new scientific paradigms, such as socio-economic resilience, vulnerability and adaptive management of the environment. This should be done in the context of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, where UNESCO has joined ICSU in important follow-up activities. MAB Biosphere Reserves could play an important role.
  • In particular, we welcome the conclusion that all science programmers should have components of both natural sciences and social and human sciences. Collaboration with ICSU on a programme on hazards and disasters is an example of such a new initiative, where ICSU would welcome UNERSCO collaboration.
  • We agree that UNESCO should take a more comprehensive approach in its environmental programmes and there is scope for strengthened collaboration on biodiversity (through our joint programme DIVERSITAS), on climate change (where both organizations sponsor the World Climate Research Programme), on energy conservation issue (through the ICSU International Science Panel on Renewable Energies) and on natural resource management, through our joint work on Millennium Ecosystem Assessment follow-up.

Arizona Science and Technology Center Wins UNESCO Prize

Center in Arizona praised for remarkable scientific work on water research in deserts and arid lands.

Students measure evaporation rates in Patagonia, Arizona. They are part of of NSF's Science and Technology Center for Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas.
Credit: Jonathan Petti, SAHRA, University of Arizona, Tucson

The Center for Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) is one of two institutions to win the 2007 International Great Man-made River Prize awarded by UNESCO.

The UNESCO prize "rewards remarkable scientific research work on water usage in arid areas as well as areas subject to drought and also for the development of agriculture for the benefit of humanity and the environment."


U.S. Control of Internet Remains Issue

The second meeting of the Internet Governance Forum ended last week with little to show in closing the issue of U.S. control over how people around the world access e-mail and Web sites. The Forum was created to support the United Nations Secretary-General in carrying out the mandate from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). As part of the ITU-UNESCO sponsored WSIS, a Working Group on Internet Governance sought to find a compromise among the nations on the topic, and the Forum is continuing that effort.

With no concrete recommendations for action, the only certainty going forward is that any resentment about the American influence will only grow as more users from the developing world come online, changing the face of the global network.

UNESCO's Climate Change Task Force

Climate change is affecting our environment, our societies, and our cultures. Finding solutions to mitigate the negative impacts and adapt to changing conditions requires and approach that unites sound, unbiased science with social and cultural considerations. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, with over 40 activities spanning all its program sectors, provides a unique forum for addressing climate change and its impacts on the environment and human society.

UNESCO has established an Inter-Sectoral Task Force on Global Climate Change which is to define a strategic and integrated approach for UNESCO on the issue of global climate change and to position the Organization so that it can make a tangible contribution in the years to come.


World Digital Library Promo Video

About This Video: The vision of an initiative being developed by multiple entities including the Library of Congress and UNESCO. Video edited by Joon Yi and soundtrack produced by Fred Simonton. Added to YouTube: October 18, 2007

Read the article in the Washington Post on the occasion of the demonstration of the prototype in Paris.

Check out the World Digital Library website.

Policy Research Tool

UNESCO is launching a new tool to support policy-making based on research results from international social and human sciences.

UNESCO launches a tool to put social science research at the service of public policy-making Designed and developed under the aegis of the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Program, the service will provide customized access to policy-relevant material (case studies) according to specific locations (city, country, region) and/or themes related to social transformations (urbanization, migration phenomena, human rights, sustainable development, etc.)

International Sceince and Engineering Partnerships

The National Science Board has recently issued a report (in draft form) titled:

International centers serve as another means to build international S&E collaborations. Examples of these centers include: the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, the International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics (ICPAM), the Trace Elements Institute of UNESCO, and the International Centre for Chemical Studies (ICCE). ICTP is supported by UNESCO, IAEA, and Italy to provide education and stimulate research in a wide variety of scientific fields for scientists in developing countries. With modest additional funding from other developed countries, this center could serve as an important broker to establish productive international collaborations between scientists and engineers in developed and developing countries....

The new Library at Alexandria exemplifies a different kind of capacity building based on infrastructure development. This magnificent complex was established by Egypt in partnership with UNESCO, the EU, and a number of private sources near the site of the ancient Library; it includes a Planetarium, a Conference Center, and numerous research institutes and educational support facilities, in addition to, a modern library with extensive digital collections, data bases, archives and journals. The Library also provides extensive educational and research support services and stands as an important monument to the peoples of Egypt and other Arab speaking nations......

The U.S. Government supports international S&E partnerships for multiple beneficial reasons. However, little is really understood about the benefits of such partnerships both by the public and in Congress. The benefits of international science and engineering partnerships are not only vital to the future of the U.S., but also stand at the forefront of solving the most pressing issues facing the entire world. Climate change, natural disasters, food shortages, sanitation and drinking water, energy resources, and the spread of disease are only a few of the issues that have global consequences and require a collaborative global effort from not only scientists and engineers, but from policy makers at all levels. The U.S. is uniquely positioned to help shape the direction of international cooperation and provide leadership in building S&E partnerships that can address these important global issues.

Americans Favor International Cooperation

UN Dispatch (November 13, 2007) provides the following information:

The United Nations Foundation released the results of a major survey of Americans' foreign policy attitudes today. Americans, the poll finds, are virtually unanimous (86% of all voters) in the belief that working with allies and through international organizations is a wiser strategy for achieving America's foreign policy priorities.

The poll also finds that 73% of all voters are more likely to vote for a candidate for President who understands that "solutions to world problems require international cooperation, whether they are economic problems, environmental problems, or problems of peace and war and that international cooperation is a better way of solving some of the world's key problems."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Videos on UNESCO's action in communication and information now online

UNESCO has launched an Audiovisual Resources Platform. It offers a unique access point to audiovisual material in the area of communication and information, which has been produced, sponsored or supported by UNESCO: documentaries, audio recordings, speeches, podcasts of meetings, etc. The platform already includes almost 100 audiovisual resources structured around the following themes:
  • Access to Information,
  • Media Development,
  • Capacity Building,
  • Memory of the World,
  • Content Development, and
  • Freedom of Expression.

Check out Planet Earth: From Place to Space, one of the available videos made in celebration of UNESCO's World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, 27 October 2007. It is a short trailer by the members of the Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA) featuring materials from their collections.

UNESCO workshops on Freedom of Expression and Multilingualism at the Internet Governance Forum

The second meeting on Internet governance was held earlier this month in Rio de Janeiro. It brought together participants from around the world to discuss issues ranging from freedom of expression and security to open standards and linguistic diversity.

Click here for:

UNESCO’s workshop on "Freedom of Expression as a Security Issue" explored security and security protection mechanisms as variables that influence freedom of expression on the Internet.

A second UNESCO organized workshop associated with the forum was entitled "Towards International Standards for a Truly Multilingual Global Internet." It aimed at fostering international cooperation in establishing standards for a multilingual global Internet.