Monday, July 30, 2007

Rita Colwell Awarded National Medal of Science

President George W. Bush awarded the National Medals of Science and National Medals of Technology, honoring the nation's leading researchers, inventors and innovators at a ceremony at the White House on Friday, July 27, 2007. Among those receiving the awards was Rita Colwell, who serves on the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO. The prestigious award program, which was established by Congress in 1959. honors individuals for pioneering scientific research in a range of fields, including physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral and engineering sciences. The award recognizes those who have enhanced our understanding of the world in ways that lead to innovations and technologies that give the United States its global economic edge.

This was the first time in four years that any women were included among those honored. (Dr. Nina Federoff, the new Science Advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also received a 2006 National Medal of Science.)

Dr. Colwell's citation reads:
2006 National Medal of Science to Rita R. Colwell, for her in-depth research that has contributed to a greater understanding of the ecology, physiology, and evolution of marine microbes, most notably Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of pandemic cholera, and which has elucidated critical links between environmental and human health.

Congratulations Rita!

Digital Inclusion Forum 07

16 & 17 August 2007

Westin Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This conference for government and NGO development professionals in Southeast Asia has been organised by Public Sector Technology & Management magazine and is supported by UNESCO and UNDP, the event focuses on the role of ICT for social and economic development in Southeast and South Asia.

Featuring presentations from:
- Dato' Badlisham bin Ghazali, CEO, Multimedia Development Corporation (Malaysia)
- Tim Diaz De Rivera, Commissioner on ICT (The Philippines)
- Reshan Dewapura, COO, ICTA (Sri Lanka)
- Ashwin Sasongko, Secretary General, Department for Communications & IT (Indonesia)
- Farrukh Qayyum, Secretary, Ministry of IT (Pakistan)
- Salim Al-Ruzaiqi, CEO, IT Authority (Oman)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

About the MOST Program

The Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Program is UNESCO's flagship social science effort. In his address to the Eighth Session of the Intergovernmental Council (IGC) of the MOST Program, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, summarized recent progress.

Four years ago, after the thorough evaluation of MOST’s Phase-One, the Intergovernmental Council underscored the need for MOST to fully play its role in efficiently bridging research, policy and practice. Since then, and particularly in the last biennium, MOST has made a specific effort to support multi-partite networks at sub-regional and regional level with a view to producing policy-relevant knowledge under its priority themes.

MOST has also strengthened its strategic alliances with, on the one hand, the users of social science knowledge: with governments, regional and sub-regional organizations and civil society organizations; and on the other hand, with international and regional social science organizations and national research councils.

All of MOST’s cooperation efforts culminated in what has been named the “Buenos Aires Process”. The process gave birth to the International Forum on the Social Science-Policy Nexus which took place simultaneously in three cities of Argentina: Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario; and in the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, in February 2006 and to which you are dedicating tomorrow’s morning session.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A World of Science (July – September 2007)

The new issue of A World of Science (July – September 2007) is out! It focuses on climate change.

CONTENTS Vol. 5 No. 3

IN FOCUS (read here)
p 2 - Watchdogs of the public interest

NEWS (read here)
p 8 - A new science policy for Ethiopia
p 8 - Manual alerts children to plight of dolphins
p 9 - Biosphere Connections takes to the sky
p 10 - International rock stars meet to map the world
p 10 - Photo contest (more)
p 11 - A virtual campus for teacher training in Egypt
p 11 - Systematic measures needed to end poaching in DRC
p 12 - A first geopark for Southeast Asia
p 12 - UNESCO pays tribute to Pierre-Gilles de Gennes

INTERVIEW (read here)
p 13 - Andrew Dobson explains why a warmer world will be a sicker world

p 16 - A blue goldmine in need of protection (read here)
p 20 - The heat is on for Australia's forests (read here)

p 24 - Diary
p 24 - New releases

UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists

UNESCO encourages press freedom and campaigns for greater safety of media professionals. It is the only UN organization that regularly protests the assassination of journalists.

This website provides access to the records of those protests!

Related Websites:

Evaluation of the Information for All Program (IFAP)

The Information for All Program seeks to:
  • Promote international reflection and debate on the ethical, legal and societal challenges of the information society
  • Promote and widen access to information in the public domain through the organisation, digitization and preservation of information
  • Support training, continuing education and lifelong learning in the fields of communication, information and informatics
  • Support the production of local content and foster the availability of indigenous knowledge through basic literacy and ICT literacy training
  • Promote the use of international standards and best practices in communication, information and informatics in UNESCO’s fields of competences
  • Promote information and knowledge networking at local, national, regional and international levels.
The main purpose of the evaluation was to review the role and future relevance of IFAP in pursuing the six core IFAP objectives. The evaluation was expected to provide UNESCO with a clear account of the overall performance of IFAP as well as specific implementable recommendations for future activities. It was expected to focus on results achieved of IFAP activities as well as assess the relevance of IFAP to meet future challenges.

Supporting Documents

Ethics and human rights in information society

A European regional meeting on the ethical dimensions of the information society is being organized by the French Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with UNESCO and the Council of Europe. It will be the third of a cycle of regional UNESCO conferences on the ethical dimensions of the information society, and a contribution to the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and to the Internet Governance Forum.

The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss and identify the issues considered to be priorities for the European region and to raise stakeholders’ awareness of the ethical issues of information and communication technologies and usages. It will also aim at making a contribution to the UNESCO code of ethics project that was elaborated and discussed during the two previous regional conferences and also in reaching conclusions and operational recommendations intended for all stakeholders.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

IAMCR's 50th Anniversary Conference

UNESCO and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) are co-organizing the IAMCR’s 50th Anniversary Conference from 23 to 25 July 2007 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The Conference theme is “Media, Communication, Information: Celebrating 50 Years of Theories and Practices”.

Read more about the International Association for Media and Communication Research

Study Abroad 2006-2007

Just a reminder for those of you who are thinking of studying abroad or who have friends who are planning for foreign studies, UNESCO publishes this useful book.

Study Abroad 2006-2007 contains some 2,900 entries concerning post-secondary education and training in all academic and professional fields in countries throughout the world. Key features include information on:

- Study opportunities and financial assistance available to students wishing to study in a foreign country
- National systems of higher education
- Open and distance learning (ODL) opportunities
- Validation of foreign qualifications
- How to search for quality institutions of higher education including warnings about bogus institutions

If you work in an institution of higher education, and want to be sure it is listed in the next update of Study Abroad, this might be a good time to contact UNESCO.

From access to engagement: community access centers

From access to engagement: community access centres
Nair, Seema B.; Jose, Sajai; Baer, James
UNESCO Office New Delhi and Regional Bureau for Communication and Information in Asia and the Pacific
New Delhi, UNESCO New Delhi, 2007, 105 pages.

This book seeks to show the many developments taking place in the development of community access centers (to the Internet) across South East Asia.

UNESCO launches biodiversity project for 4 heritage sites

Read about the initiative in the Hindu News Update (India).

UNESCO has identified four world heritage sites -- Kaziranga and Manas in Assam, Keoladeo in Rajasthan and Nanda Devi in Uttaranchal-- in India as role models to demonstrate conservation management practises for other biodiversity hotspots. The World Heritage Biodiversity Project was launched today by UNESCO for holistic development of these sites. The project is seen as critical to the preservation of globally significant biodiversity.

International Symposium on Science, Technology and Innovation: Towards a Prosperous and Secure Islamic World

This International symposium has been organized by UNESCO, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Malaysia, and the Academy of Science of Malaysia. It is to be preceded by a conference for young scientists from Islamic countries 6-7 August. The new Consortium on Science, Technology and Innovation for the South (COSTIS), a UNESCO initiative, will prepare this first COSTIS conference.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

2007 U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Annual Meeting

On May 21 and May 22, 2007, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO held its annual meeting in Washington, DC. The minutes represent a summary of the meeting, including those who attended, matters discussed, and conclusions reached.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Tax Break for Donations to Charities

This posting is by a non-expert on tax law, and is intended to stimulate thought. You should verify the information with a tax lawyer or other knowledgeable source before acting on the information. But for some readers, this may be a great time to make charitable contributions to qualifying organizations such as Americans for UNESCO.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) permits an an individual who is 70 ½ or older to roll over up to $100,000 from an individual retirement account (IRA) directly to a qualifying charity without recognizing the assets transferred to the qualifying charity as income. This provision is time-limited; it applies only to distributions made in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2005 and before January 1, 2008. However, since the rollover does not count as income, the donor can not take a deduction against taxes for the contribution (since to do so would be to double count the donation).

This provision of the law will benefit certain tax payers. For those who itemize donations on their tax returns, the rollover will not count against the limit on deductions for donations. Thus a large donation could be made via the rollover without affecting the deduction available for other charitable donations. For those who do not itemize deductions, the rollover would still be tax free.

According to an article in Independent Sector
Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Representatives Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Wally Herger (R-CA) have introduced the “Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2007” in the House (H.R. 1419) and Senate (S. 819).......

The “Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2007” would extend and broaden the current IRA Rollover, scheduled to expire this December, by making it permanent, removing the current $100,000 annual limit on donations, making all charities eligible to receive donations, and providing IRA owners with a planned giving option starting at age 59½.
However, the bill has not been passed and may not become law. If you qualify, this may be the moment to take advantage of the provision of the current law which is scheduled to expire at the end of December.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Editorial: Nine Wonders of Intangible Heritage

Recently there was a world competition to select the seven new wonders of the world. UNESCO, incidentally, refused to participate, perhaps because of a potential conflict with the World Heritage list of 851 “properties”. UNESCO is of course correct in recognizing that there are far more than seven locations in the world that deserve protection as unique elements of mankind’s natural and cultural heritage. However, there is also value in recognizing that there is a much smaller number of sites of more transcendental importance. Each of the seven wonders is – in my opinion as well as that of the general public – a more important element of man’s heritage than the average of the 851 sites listed by UNESCO.

UNESCO makes occasional proclamations of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, creating thereby a list of such “masterpieces”. I suppose that the masterpiece list is supposed to complement the World Heritage adding intangible items to the tangible locals of the World Heritage Center’s list. The Masterpieces list specifically seeks to recognize “two types of expression of intangible cultural heritage: forms of popular and traditional cultural expressions and cultural spaces. This heritage is made up of many and varied complex forms of living manifestations in constant evolution including oral traditions, performing arts, music, festive events, rituals, social practices and knowledge and practices concerning nature.”

The three proclamations to date have together identified 90 “masterpieces”. They include the Cultural Space of Jemaa el-Fna Square in Morocco, Woodcrafting Knowledge of the Zafimaniry of Madagascar, and the Andean Cosmovision of the Kallawaya of Bolivia.

Let me suggest a set of Nine Wonders of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Each of these is a complex cultural element in constant evolution, which is not limited to any one country or region, and which transforms the lives of billions of people on a daily basis. Each involves social practices.

Scientific Agriculture: Based on a variety of plant and animal species domesticated in centers all around the world, scientific tools are utilized to provide improved varieties and breeds. These are combined with scientifically developed farming practices and the use of scientifically developed inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers in farming environments modified by such means as land leveling and provision of irrigation, and appropriately engineered farming equipment. Individual farms and farmers are supported by complex institutions such as extension services, agricultural research services, plant protection services, soil protection services, etc. The term “scientific agriculture” is used here in contrast to, for example, “traditional agriculture”.

Participatory Democracy: Obviously, participatory democracy has developed slowly, with many steps back, over millennia, including innovations pioneered by Athens in ancient Greece, the British Magna Carta, the American and French Revolutions. Equally obviously, there are many current versions among democratic states, many nations that have only partially institutionalized participatory democracy, and some nations that are governed by dictatorial or theocratic elites. I suggest that those societies that have institutionalized participatory democracy well tend to have governance responsive to their peoples, who enjoy the benefits of rule of law.

The Modern Market Economy: The fall of Communism and the triumph of Capitalism testify to the advantages of modern market economies over centrally planned economies. It must be recognized, however, that there is variety among the national implementations of the modern market economy, and that much of the world is still dependent on other economic systems including informal economies, subsistence economy, or barter systems. The modern market economy differs from earlier laisser faire models in that it is more regulated and includes provisions for a social safety net. Globalization is a feature of the evolution of the market economy with changes in infrastructure. The modern market economy is supported by a myriad of institutions for regulation and support, and depends on acculturation of buyers and sellers to function through markets. With the introduction of improved national and international information infrastructures, organizations have been reengineered to meet changing market needs and demands, and sectors have been comparably restructured, indicating the complexity of institutionalization of the market economy.

Modern Engineering Technology: The application of science to practical arts has produced the knowledge and understanding underlying our modern infrastructure. Modern engineering includes aeronautic, civil, electrical, electronic, environmental, industrial and mechanical engineering. Modern engineering is institutionalized through government and commercial engineering services as well as within corporations, and is supported by a complex web of research, standards, educational, and professional institutions. The term “modern engineering technology” refers to professional practice that has been professionalized (starting in the 19th century), is based on modern scientific knowledge, and is distinguished from the engineering practices of traditional societies or of informally groups.

Modern Urbanization: Today more than half of the people of the world live in cities, but a very large portion of those who do live in urban slums. Still, large cities of developed nations represent a cultural invention that yields the residents unprecedented security and comfort. It is a relatively modern invention, in that there were very few ancient cities that could support a population as large as one million people. It is the modern urban culture of Tokyo, London, Paris or New York that I would consider prototypical of modern urbanization, and that is a model to which cities in developing nations sometimes aspire.

Modern Science: Modern science is based on what is termed “the scientific method”. It is implemented by institutions for the conduct of scientific research, for the replication and validation of experimental results, for the organization of scientific information, for the formulation and validation of scientific theories, and for the dissemination of scientific information. There are also institutions for the support of modern science, including for the training of scientists and their supporting personnel, for the supply of scientific equipment, for science policy, and for financing science. Modern science can be contrasted with other knowledge systems, such as those for traditional or indigenous knowledge or for local knowledge, or political, legal, or other knowledge systems. It includes natural sciences (both physical and biological) as well as social sciences and mathematics.

Modern, Knowledge-Based Medical Practice: I use the term to include both preventive medicine and public health measures as well as curative medicine with its networks of doctors, nurses, dentists, hospitals, health centers, and consultation rooms. It is the practice of modern, scientifically trained practitioners, as contrasted with the practice of traditional practitioners (midwives, herbalists, curers, etc.) or of families using traditional or local knowledge. It depends on the availability of appropriate pharmaceutical products and medical instruments, both of which are supplied by complex institutional systems. While modern, knowledge-based medical practice serves all of mankind, its full benefits are currently limited to a relatively small fraction of the world’s population (those who can afford its cost).

Cyberspace and the International Information Infrastructure: With the development of the telegraph, telephone and radio, a new kind of communication became possible, and the technological extensions (television, mobile phones, satellite communications) have made such communication much more widely spread. Digital information technology, and the creation of the Internet and World Wide Web extended cyberspace, which now contains a huge library of knowledge and expression. Cyberspace provides a new virtual forum for global communication, which perhaps a billion people use actively today. It provides for new forms of institutionalization of other wonders in this list, such as e-commerce and e-government. I include it in this list especially to make the point that mankind’s most important intangible heritage need not be of ancient origin.

World Religions: A few religions include most of the world’s population as their adherents (Christians 33.03% of world population, Muslims 20.12%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.89%). Each of these religions has evolved – during the course of millennia – not only an extensive and complex theology but institutionalized rituals and networks of places of worship. They have all institutionalized systems for training of leaders and members of the faith. For at least 70 percent of mankind, these religions provide patterns of religious belief, codes of moral conduct, communities of faith, and comfort. They would seem clearly to be among the most important elements of mankind’s intangible cultural heritage. They are to be distinguished from religions of the past that no longer have adherents, and many religions that are limited to small numbers of adherents, usually geographically concentrated in a relatively small region.

Concluding Remarks: Culture is often misunderstood. The term (and the concept it represents) is not limited to “high culture” of symphonies and classical literature, nor to “popular culture” of movies and pop music. Nor is it something found only in traditional societies, marked by is fragility and picturesque nature. UNESCO should conceive of its cultural responsibility as relating to “the whole product of an individual, group or society of intelligent beings. It includes technology, art, science, as well as moral systems and the characteristic behaviors and habits of the selected intelligent entities.” (Wikipedia)

UNESCO in its list of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity has focused exclusively on elements of traditional cultures. Indeed, many of these are endangered, likely to be abandoned by the societies in which they once thrived as the people abandon the traditional and adopt more modern institutions. There is merit in recognizing the beauties of oral and intangible heritage of traditional cultures, encouraging their preservation while it is still possible.

It is perhaps more important to recognize the benefits of intangibles of modern culture. UNESCO is a development institution, seeking to help societies achieve conditions that they value, including education for all. Its efforts to promote science and communication are part of its development agenda. Ultimately, societies will not achieve adequate levels of health and nutrition nor freedom and security without development in areas to which UNESCO must contribute.

Thus, it is critical that UNESCO recognize that cultures will have to evolve in ways that are conducive to their social and economic development if they are to meet their members aspirations, and that UNESCO’s job is not merely to encourage protection of endangered quaint customs from the past, but to encourage development and dissemination of cultural practices which are needed for social and economic development to meet current and future needs. Thus it is important that UNESCO recognize the cultural elements that underlie such progress and find ways to help cultures find and adopt useful cultural practices and traits. There are elements in its cultural programs that do this, but they are relatively few and those are relatively weakly supported. UNESCO’s education, science, and communications programs also encourage development-enhancing cultural change, but do so little informed by UNESCO’s cultural expertise.

The United States and other developed nations embody many important cultural elements which can contribute to social and economic progress. The people and government of the United States have historically been more than willing to share the riches of our intangible culture with other nations and peoples. We should encourage UNESCO to recognize our leadership in many of the areas that I have identified above as Wonders of Intangible Culture, and to lead in encouraging other nations and peoples to consider incorporating these elements more fully in their own cultures.

As a final comment, let me reject the notion that such action would be “cultural imperialism”. Imperialism would involve the imposition of cultural elements on other cultures through the use of economic or other kinds of power. Making cultural elements available to other cultures for them to accept or reject – placing the power in their hands – is quite the opposite of imperialism. Indeed, one of the advantages of working through UNESCO in this respect is that an intergovernmental organization is much less likely to slip into an imperialistic mode than bilateral assistance agencies.

John Daly
(The opinions expressed above are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Science, Technology, Innovation, and Wealth Creation,"

The videotape of Sir David King's July 11 presentation at the World Bank entitled, "Science, Technology, Innovation, and Wealth Creation,"is now online, as is his introduction by Ms. Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili (a Vice President of the World Bank). The power point slides which Sir David King used during his lecture are also now available.

Click here to read a summary report about Sir David King's lecture at the World Bank.

UNESCO cosponsored an earlier session this year at the World Bank on the theme of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Lessons Learned from the UNESCO session -- Participant Reflections
- Frans Doorman, Agdev Consult

Saturday, July 14, 2007

2005 Study Tour to UN Agencies

Read "UNA-NCA Sponsors Delegation to Visit UN Agencies in Paris and Geneva" by Andrew Rice in the UNA-USA Newsletter of June 2005.

"Fourteen UNA-USA members journeyed to Paris and Geneva in May as the first organized UNA-USA delegation to meet and dialogue with officials in the UN agencies in those cities. In addition to holding sessions with key members of the secretariats, the group also met with the US missions to the agencies. Organized by the National Capital Area chapter, the week-long program brought together seven UNA-NCA members and seven UNAers from chapters in California, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas and Utah. The group, led by Cynthia Butler and Andrew Rice, spent two full days in Paris and three in Geneva......

"The days in Paris centered on UNESCO (which the US only recently re-joined) and the US Mission to UNESCO. Particular topics included UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites program and the proposed -- and controversial -- convention on cultural diversity. The discussion with the US Mission emphasized the importance it attached to the practical implementation of programs."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Women in Science: The Missing Links"

"Women in Science: The Missing Links," The UNESCO Courier, 2007, Number 2. (PDF, 20 pages.)

This issue of UNESCO's major online magazine is devoted to the topic of women in science.

Argentina: the illusion of equality


In Argentina, one researcher out of two is female. But these numbers hide other inequalities. More

Budding Plant Research


Laureate for Africa of the 2007 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has spent much of her life taking inventory of plants in her homeland, Mauritius. More

The trailing spouse syndrome


Women scientists, especially physicists, are likely to marry other scientists – which can create problems if both partners look for jobs at the same institution. More

“We need the best people as scientists” - Interview


Baroness Greenfield, Professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and author of a UK report on women in science, advocates stronger strategic approaches to addressing the issue of female under-representation in scientific careers. More

No statistics, no problem, no policy...


Myanmar has the world’s highest proportion of women researchers at 85%, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. But why are research hotspots like China and the United States missing from the list of 100 countries with available data? A careful look behind the statistics. More

Monday, July 09, 2007

"The UNESCO toolkit on Gender Indicators in Science, Engineering and Technology"

Gender Indicators in Science, Engineering and Technology
Sophia Huyer & Gunnar Westholm
UNESCO, 2007

The Toolkit is intended to provide a better understanding of the numbers and needs at stake in the participation of women in science and engineering, including quantitative and qualitative indicators for the participation of women and under-represented groups, especially in developing countries. It reviews the main theoretical and methodological approaches to data collection internationally and presents case studies, guidelines and new approaches related to the collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data. In so doing, it establishes a new basis for evidence-based analysis enabling planners and policy-makers to address these issues with greater effectiveness.

Girls and science: a training module on motivating girls to embark on science and technology careers

Girls and science: a training module on motivating girls to embark on science and technology careers
UNESCO, 2006. (PDF, 936702 bytes)

The overall aim of this educational module is to help reduce gender disparities in the field of science and technology in Africa as well as to provide women with the possibility of embarking upon science careers in the quest of self-dependence and poverty reduction. Published by UNESCO, 2006, specific objectives of Girls and science: a training module on motivating girls to embark on science and technology careers include:
1. Promoting a positive image of women in scientific and technological careers;

2. Sensitizing parents, teachers, educators, school administrative staff, curriculum developers and trainers to counter gender stereotypes with regard to science careers;

3. Improving access of girls to scientific and technological education by providing clear ideas of career opportunities;

4. Providing teachers with the necessary career guidance tools to meet the needs of female learners seeking careers in science and technology.

Network: Women, Science, Technology and Development

The Network: Women, Science, Technology and Development was created by UNESCO in 2006. At present is links seven UNESCO Chairs, including:

* The Chairs “Water, women and decision-making” in Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire et Morocco
* The Chairs “Women, science and technology” in Argentina, Pakistan and Sudan
* The Chair “Women, science and technology for development in Africa” in Burkina Faso

The goal of this network of UNESCO Chairs is help Universities contribute to the increase of the number of women scientists and engineers as well as to the transfer of scientific and technological knowledge to the poorer populations of the globe. The university Chairs are run by women. They promote women in the fields of science and technology through research and teaching programs on gender in these fields and by training in the sustainable development management of resources (notably water) for women and teenage girls, principally in rural areas.

Tapping at the glass ceiling: a history of Women, Natural Sciences and UNESCO

“UNESCO’s Charter indicated clearly that the new organization proposed to contribute to the maintenance of peace by strengthening collaboration among nations through education, science and culture. A few lines further on, it is specified that this will be done ‘without distinction of race, sex, language or religion’.

UNESCO’s initial activities meant to ensure the equality of opportunity for women began, basically in terms of education, during the 1950s. This hardly involved the science programme. Then, impelled by several non-governmental organizations, UNESCO participated in 1967 in a first effort; this was in Chile, and concerned the access of girls to scientific and technical careers. The project was supported financially by UNESCO until 1974. During the first thirty years of its existence, however, the results of such efforts were inconclusive. Should one deduce that UNESCO, much in the image of scientific societies of the time, paid little attention to ‘women’s’ issues?.........”

Read the full article by Renée Clair from Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO 1945-2005 (Word Document, 8 pages)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Editorial: To Build the Defenses of the Environment in the Minds of Men

Today eight Live Earth concerts are to be held around the globe to raise awareness and stimulate action to combat the climate crisis. Hundreds of thousands will attend the concerts, many millions more will attend via the media, thousands of newspaper articles will cover the events. Let us hope that the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of this century will be marked as the lucky day when public opinion demanded action!

Today, as is shown in the following map of intensity of environmental exploitation, mankind has converted almost all of the surface of the for human use. The world's population is expected to increase by some 40 percent by 2050, and per capita product to an average of about $20,000. Both the increase in population and the increase in economic productivity of the population will almost surely increase pressures on the global environment Unless we change our habits, the environmental impact will be devastating by the end of the century.

Global warming is clearly occurring. It has been estimated that the average temperature over the earth will increase by several degrees during this century. Of course many places will see a greater than average increase in average temperature, rainfall patterns will continue to change, sea level will continue to rise, adverse weather events in many places will be more frequent and/or more severe.

More and more marginal land will be converted to production, and as a result, more land is likely to be degraded. Desertification and deforestation will continue to expand. As a result of loss of habitat, perhaps as many as 90 percent of plant and animal species may be lost.

It is not only that every year we delay in moving toward sustainable development will be one more year until that felicitous state is achieved. Not only is the problem getting worse every year, the worsening rate increases and will continue to do so until we take serious action. Every year of delay will result in a later and worse bottoming out of environmental problems and a longer period of recuperation.

Many civilizations in the past have fallen as a result of asking too much of the environments in which they lived. For the first time in human history, mankind has the potential today to ask too much of the environment of the entire globe, to mark the entire earth with an ugly footprint. Unless the nations of the world act together to reduce the demands they are making on the environment, they condemn future generations to living in a degraded, polluted and denuded world.

UNESCO has an ambitious goal: to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men. I suggest that we add a second, equally ambitious goal to the organization: to build the defenses of the environment in the minds of men!

We instinctively feel that it is wrong to destroy and lay waste to the environment. I suggest that we need also a profound philosophical discussion of why sustainable development is the only ethical course for mankind. UNESCO is the only international organization that specifically includes philosophy and ethics in its charter, and thus its "Human Sciences" programs are needed to address the environmental crisis.

Many cultures worldwide have evolved to live in harmony with their environments, protecting them, sustaining a fruitful interaction for millennia. The globally dominant culture of the 20th century, however, too often identified the industrial smoke stake as its logo; was a culture that depleted resources, polluted land, water and air, and turned huge areas of the globe into wasteland. UNESCO is the only international organization that specifically focuses on Culture, and is therefore the only organization likely to help other cultures learn from those which still internalize sustainability. It is the only organization likely to lead toward a globally dominant cultural value of stewardship for the environment.

UNESCO's natural science programs are already centrally important in leading the global effort of the scientific community to understand the global environment, how it is deteriorating, and how it may be protected. It is the global natural science enterprise that brought to mankind's attention the global environmental problems that we face, and it is the natural sciences that will deepen our understanding of the problem and suggest better ways of managing and protecting that environment. Here too, UNESCO has a key role as catalyst and cheerleader.

UNESCO is the lead agency in the international system for the social sciences. The degradation of the global environment must be understood as an unintended consequence of the ways in which society is organized and functions. Mankind desperately needs insights from the social sciences as to how better to organize society to achieve a more sustainable development. UNESCO, by reorganizing and strengthening its social science programs might well provide leadership for a global social science effort towards understanding the social roots of the environmental crisis comparable to that of its natural science program's leadership in understanding the physical nature of environmental problems.

The most urgent aspect of the world's environmental crisis is that its urgency, magnitude and importance are not fully appreciated. The general public does not understand the environmental problem, nor does it fully internalize the importance of thinking in terms of 100 years; if it did so, there would be a global outcry for action. The political, commercial and economic leadership of the nations of the world need a far more detailed and complete understanding of the environmental crisis than does the general public, and it too is lacking.

UNESCO is the leading international organization for education and for communications and information. No intergovernmental agency is better placed to lead the process of educating and informing the public about the environmental crisis. Indeed, UNESCO is the United Nations agency most attuned to civil society and thus in an exceptional position to encourage non-governmental organizations to join in educating the world about the environmental crisis we face.

In short, every UNESCO program has a role to play in building the defenses of the environment and support for sustainable development in the minds of men. The environmental crisis is sufficiently important and urgent that this should become a priority for UNESCO.

If UNESCO's purpose is building the defense of peace in the minds of men, I suggest that it will not achieve that purpose unless it now builds the defenses of the environment in those same minds. The growing environmental crisis will not be good for peace. The worse it gets, the more conflict it will sew.

Please add your comments below.

If you agree strongly with this position, tell:
John Daly

Thursday, July 05, 2007

UNESCO High Level Group of Visionaries on Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing

UNESCO invited a group of world known visionaries and decision makers from government, civil society, academia and the private sector to a high level dialogue on the future of knowledge acquisition and sharing on 23 June 2007 in Kronberg/Taunus, Germany.

The members of this Group were to anticipate and define future needs and processes of knowledge acquisition and sharing and examine the relationship between these processes and knowledge creation, knowledge preservation, knowledge utilization, technology use and new knowledge models. They were to address issues such as:
* The role of knowledge acquisition and sharing to build a world in which peace, development and human rights prosper;
* The contribution of ICTs to this process;
* The evolution of knowledge acquisition and sharing over the next three decades;
* Political and institutional changes that are needed to address these challenges.
For more information:
* Read the Working Document for the Meeting (PDF, 5 pages)

* Read the Program and List of Participants (PDF, 15 pages)

* Check out the website developed by Core UK to support the meeting with a discussion by participants

* Read the Kronberg Declaration on the Future of Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing and make comments if you desire.


An International Conference on “Innovation for Development” was held at UNESCO, Paris, on 3-4 May 2007. The conference was co-organized by the European Association for the Transfer of Technology, Innovation and Industrial Information (TII), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The concluding plenary session included a panel discussion and the production of a “Paris Statement on Innovation for Development”.

UNESCO concerned about boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has expressed concern over the motion passed on 30 May 2007 by the British University and College Union (UCU) to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This boycott request is currently being circulated to all UCU local branches for discussion.

He stated:
In situations of conflict, opportunities, no matter how small, should be seized whenever possible, to enhance the prospects for peace and dialog.

Academics are responsible for gathering, processing and distributing information, which are tasks necessary for building stable, prosperous and democratic societies. We need to preserve the universality of research, exchange and learning, and support all joint academic activities that foster the sharing of experiences and expertise.

If we are serious about the need to promote sustained peace, democracy and development, I believe that we have the moral responsibility to share knowledge and promote understanding.

International university cooperation is not a luxury but a necessity. We must therefore continue to support all efforts within civil societies to nurture contacts in the spirit of respect and mutual understanding which characterize peaceful relations.
Editorial Comment: Israeli academic organizations are of course not homogeneous, but I have worked with hundreds of Israeli academics who effectively utilize their international networks to promote peace, and who have take personal and professional risks to cooperate with Arab colleagues. John Daly

Everglades Declared No Longer in Danger

Everglades National Park

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization | UNESCO.ORG:

"The World Heritage Committee has decided that improvements in the preservation of the Everglades National Park (Florida, USA) were sufficient to remove the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger.*

The Committee commended the United States of America for its investment of scientific and financial resources to rehabilitate the site which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and on the Danger List in 1993. Described as a river of grass flowing imperceptibly from the hinterland into the sea, the Everglades’ exceptional variety of water habitats has made it a sanctuary for a large number of birds and reptiles, including threatened species such as the manatee. It had been threatened by urban growth and pollution, as well as by the damage caused to Florida Bay in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew. "

New inscriptions for Memory of the World Register

Thirty-eight items of documentary heritage of exceptional value have just been added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, bringing the total number of inscriptions since 1997 to 158.

From the United States of America - The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming 1939), produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: a film celebrating kindness, charity, friendship, courage, fortitude, love and generosity, released in 1939, as the Second World War was spreading across the world. It remains one of the most popular and memorable films in the history of cinema.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Program some years ago to encourage the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination.

Editorial Comment: This is an indication of how poorly the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO is doing its job. The Wizard of Oz is a nice picture, but it is far from the best the United States has to offer. The American Film Institute recently listed its considered list of the ten best American films of all time, which are:
Citizen Kane has consistently ranked as the best American film for many years. The Godfather
also is widely considered a much better and more important film than The Wizard of Oz.

The United States should put its best foot forward when UNESCO is identifying the most important elements of world heritage. The National Commission for UNESCO should be sure that we do so. It failed on this occassion. John Daly

New Issue of the UNESCO Courier

Issue Number 6 for 2007 of UNESCO's online magazine, the UNESCO Courier has just been published.

Six thousand years separate the Sydney Opera House from Twyfelfontein. These two sites just inscribed on the World Heritage List add to its extraordinary richness, which the UNESCO Courier aims to illustrate. Among the twenty-two new sites, the Courier focuses on five that reflect the diversity of world heritage down through the ages.

© UNESCO/Stefan Hoeh

The Sydney Opera House in Australia

Twyfelfontein has 5,000 petroglyphs, revealing Namibian ancestors’ vision of the cosmos. The South African archaeologist Thomas A. Dowson provides us with the code needed to decipher this 6000-year-old alphabet.

Then Greek artist Katerina Zacharopoulou walks us through the tiny streets of a city dating back to antiquity and the Renaissance, the Venice of Greece, or, as the author puts it, “a cosmopolitan aristocrat who suffers from plastic chairs”, which are proliferating in the tourist-crammed cafés: Corfou.

Then we enter “Paradise on earth”, New Delhi’s Red Fort, built in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan, to whom we owe that other jewel of Mughal architecture, the legendary Taj Mahal in Agra. Indian linguist Appasamy Murugaiyan opens the doors to this paradise, which became hell for its builder.
Closer to our own times, the diaolous built in the 19th century in Chinese-Western style by the Chinese in Kaiping attracted the attention of Patricia Batto, French expert on China. She has chosen a few of these 1,800 fortified tower residences to explain the role of these unique constructions in times when law and order did not prevail.

Finally, Mexican journalist Gerardo Tena shows us around a masterpiece of 20th century architecture, the Ciudad Universitaria in Mexico. This university campus represents a harmonious melding of modernism and local tradition, imbued with the spirit of personalities like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Octavio Paz.

These guided tours are preceded by an interview with Tumu Te Heuheu, Paramount Chief of the Central North Island Tuwharetoa Tribe (New Zealand) and Chairperson of the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee, which just ended in Christchurch, in his country. He underlines the crucial role of communities in the preservation of world heritage.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is a critically important international organization. It provides global leadership in the standardization, collection and distribution of statistics on education, science and culture. Without the efforts of UIS it is difficult to see how comparisons among nations could be made in these important sectors. How would we monitor progress towards key goals such as those of the Millennium Development Goals without the work UIS has done over the past decades to standardize indicators and its continuing efforts to collect information from member states and disseminate that information globally?

The UIS Data Center has recently been launched.

Go to the UIS Data Centre.

After a worldwide consultation process, the UIS has recently published its "Immediate, Medium and Longer-Term Strategy in Science & Technology Statistics".

Check out:
* Science & Technology Statistics Bulletin N°1 - by UIS in collaboration with INRS
This issue analyses Research and Development (R&D) expenditure worldwide over the last decade of the 20th Century. It presents figures and trends for the various world regions, including both developed and developing countries. >>More
* Science & Technology Statistics Bulletin N°2 - by UIS
This issue of the UIS Bulletin on Science and Technology Statistics presents a bibliometric analysis of 20 years of world scientific production (1981-2000), with a particular emphasis on developing countries.>>More

The UIS Culture and Communication Statistics Unit has recently launched two international questionnaires on media statistics to all its Member States. The first questionnaire on newspaper statistics covers such areas as the circulation of newspapers, on-line newspaper titles, journalists, community newspapers and news agencies. It was launched in December 2005 and results will be released by early 2007. The second questionnaire on radio and television broadcasting statistics covers diverse aspects of the radio and television industries, including the number of journalists and media organizations as well as national content issues and regulations.