Saturday, April 28, 2007

UNESCO 'must rethink science strategies'

Read the full article by Maryke Steffens in SciDev.Net, 27 April 2007.

The article begins:
An independent review has called for a rethink of UNESCO's approach to science and what its core activities should be.

The recommendations, released this month (5 April), were put together by a review committee made up of scientists from UNESCO (The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and experts from a number of countries, with the aim of informing the organisation's strategy and planning for scientific programmes from 2008.

UNESCO's general conference called for the review in 2006, following criticism from several member states of the agency's support for science.
In his comments on the report, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura supported the call to strengthen the agency's work in science policy and capacity building, as well as prioritising science education. But he did not concur that there is overlap of work nor an imbalance of funding with regard to water-related activities.

The evaluation panel recommended:
* Policy advice towards capacity building needs strengthening
* Programs must address new scientific paradigms and "cutting edge" research
* Interdisciplinary and intersectoral activities need major strengthening;
* Science education should be a high priority
* The Intergovernmental/International Scientific Programs need better coordination and synergy
* Outreach and partnerships need improvement
* Rigorous and transparent selection, assessment and evaluation of programs and projects are required
* UNESCO's leadership must be enhanced through new global initiatives
* A science advisory committee is required
Comment: Ms. Steffens might have given more emphasis to the evaluation committee's perception that UNESCO plays an important role in international science. Their effort and report are indications that they wish to make that role even stronger. JAD

Related materials:
Report by the Director-General on conclusions and recommendations of the expert team on the overall review of Major Programmes II and III

Unesco should plan members' strategies and set holistic goals for science

UNESCO Overall Review of its Science Programs

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