Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Science Tightens its Belts

I quote from A World of Science (January-March 2008)
The approved biennial budget amounts to US$631 million. Of this, US$20,857,600 (3.3%) is allocated to activities in Natural Sciences – US$1,015,000 of which will go directly to the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. The budget envelope for staff costs in Natural Sciences amounts to US$35,416,700 (5.6%). The second (category 1) UNESCO science institute, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, is funded exclusively from extrabudgetary resources.

Within the first biennial priority for science, there is to be stronger coordination between the International Hydrological Programme, the UNESCO-IHE and other water-related centres, as well as with UNESCO Chairs. Biosphere reserves are to be used increasingly as learning platforms for sustainable development, including ecotourism, and for environmental management and monitoring. In tandem, UNESCO’s role in geosciences and in Earth observation is to be developed to monitor changes in land, water and oceans, and improve understanding of climate change and its impact. UNESCO will continue to foster a culture of disaster preparedness, including via implementation of the Global Tsunami Warning System.

Within the second biennial priority for science, the programme will develop a culture of science education at all levels that is inclusive of girls; it will foster capacity-building in science, technology and innovation (STI) via collaboration with scientific networks, centres of excellence and NGOs, encouraging South–South and triangular North–South–South cooperation. Countries will continue to receive assistance and support in formulating and implementing STI policies. Access to knowledge and basic services via cutting-edge technologies will be promoted and energy policies for sustainable development devised.
Editorial Note: Here are some tips for understanding UNESCO jargon.

UNESCO receives funds from assessments of its member states, and from voluntary contributions which are termed "extrabudgetary resources". The extrabudgetary resources are almost as large as the regular budget for the organization as a whole.

Category I centers receive funding from UNESCO, and there are relatively few of them. Category II centers are associated with UNESCO but do not receive money from the Organization.

UNESCO continues to budget its staff costs separately from its program costs, which is part of the reason that only 3.3% of the regular budget is allocated to the Natural Sciences. Funds are separately allocated to the Human and Social Sciences. A relatively larger portion of total program funding comes from extrabudgetary rather than assessed contributions in the Natural Science program.

Still, however, the amount of money allocated to the Natural Science program of UNESCO is very modest when compared to the global gross product allocated to research and development in the Natural Sciences, and the lack of resources severely constrains UNESCO's abilities to build science and technology capacity in developing nations.

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