Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Importance of Science

Koïchiro Matsuura

Last year UNESCO and the UN University cosponsored a meeting on the theme of Science and Technology in the Era of Globalization. At the meeting, Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO's Director General, made a major address. As part of that address he said:
The commitment to “globalization with a human face” is a strategic priority for the Organization, and directs all our major programmes. Our prime concern is to render globalization more just by empowering people to escape exclusion and discrimination, and by empowering countries to become equal actors in the global arena.

Science and technology are key to such empowerment. They are, to begin with, central to enhancing access to knowledge, an essential commodity in today’s world. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have revolutionalized the role of knowledge in our societies, making the availability of information – and the ability to employ such information effectively – an increasingly critical determinant of economic growth and sustainable development. UNESCO is committed to promoting equal access to these new technologies and to providing information for all. The Organization also works to ensure that individuals and societies can make use of such information to preserve and improve their way of life. Policies to provide universal quality education, to promote respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, and to secure freedom of expression are all crucial in helping to bridge the digital and knowledge divides.

Science and technology also have a central role to play in overcoming many of the other social and economic inequities that act as barriers to empowerment. Our success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, ensure environmental sustainability and combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other major diseases – our success in all these areas will require focused science and technology policies. It will also require concerted efforts to strengthen developing country capacity to lead and manage scientific research and development.

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