Thursday, December 31, 2009

Irina Bokova on Climate Change

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova gave an informative briefing on UNESCO's actions with regard to Climate Change during the Copenhagen meeting earlier this month.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The State Department Announces UNESCO Jobs

DIRECTOR, Division of Water Sciences; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (SC-250); Paris, France
(AdvDeg: Hydro/WaterRsrces/Engin; 10+ yrs int’l exp; Fr); D-2; $191K Closing date: 01/23/10

(AdvDeg: PolicyPlanning/Mgmt; extnsv sr lvl exp; Fr); ADG; $205K Closing date: 01/27/10

DEPUTY DIRECTOR, Office of the Director-General; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (ODG-015); Paris, France
(AdvDeg: SocSci/Law; 10+ yrs int’l exp; Fr); D-1; $177K Closing date: 02/08/10

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New England Rugby Leader to Speak at UNESCO

Dr. Joe Olzacki, the President and CEO of the New England Rugby Football Union, was recently invited to speak at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Global International Leadership Training Program in Kigali, Rwanda, Dec. 31-Jan. 10.

"I am deeply honored and very excited by UNESCO's invitation" Olzacki said. “The opportunity that UNESCO has provided me with is truly rare. I have no idea how to prepare for this, but I realize that this opportunity is a gift, and one that I plan to take full advantage of."

In his spare time, Olzacki, of East Hampton, Conn., plays rugby for both the Newport (Rhode Island) Rugby Club and also serves as a founder and as the treasurer of Gypsy Rugby Club, a select international touring rugby club. Full time, Olzacki works as the Director of the Bloomfield (Conn.) Public Schools Department of Visual and Performing Arts, and was selected by UNESCO to the World Summit to share what he has learned through the Identity Project.

Read more from!

UNESCO fights brain drain with computing gain

The Brain Gain initiative is a digital infrastructure linking African and Arab Region universities to global knowledge

The migration of highly-skilled people is having a significant impact on higher education and research, as universities and research centres have to adjust to increasingly mobile, competitive labour markets, and strive to retain highly-skilled professionals.

In an effort to change this trend, UNESCO and HP joined forces in 2003 to develop several projects, using innovative technology to create a “brain gain” for regions that are particularly impacted by the exodus of academics and scientists.

Many skilled expatriates, wherever they may be located, have the potential and the willingness to contribute to the development of their home country, and information and distributed computing technologies provide a new way to enable distance cooperation.

A digitally literate generation of young people will be able to take advantage of the opportunities provided by access to virtual classrooms and virtual laboratories. Remote access to rare or expensive resources can help small, low-budget universities enjoy access to infrastructure of the same quality as large, well-endowed ones.

In 2009 UNESCO and HP agreed to scale up the initiative to help create a sustainable university e-infrastructure for science, bringing together higher education institutions and research centres in Africa and the Arab States region and allowing them to pursue innovative education projects.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Best Wishes

For those readers who are Christians, may today's celebrations by happy, healthy and bright. For others, may you too have a happy, health and bright day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

UNESCO Science Prize Proves Controversial

Source: "Rights group criticizes UNESCO partnering with Equatorial Guinea's dictator," DONNA BRYSON, Associated Press via The Washington Examiner, 12/23/09.

A human rights watchdog group, Global Witness, called on UNESCO to cancel the $300,000 UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences, to be awarded for this first time next year. UNESCO's Web site says the prize was founded to recognize scientific research that leads to "improving the quality of human life." Global witness holds that UNESCO "is being hypocritical by collaborating with Equatorial Guinea's dictator."


Sunday, December 20, 2009

UNESCO Publications -- overview 2008 and 2009

The following resources provide easy to consult information on UNESCO publications issued in 2008 and planned for 2009:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Harmonizing Global Science

I quote at length from an editorial in Science magazine by Alan I. Leshner and Vaughan Turekian:
Every major problem facing modern society now has a science and technology component—either as a cause or cure—whether it's energy and the environment, access to water and fertile land, the spread of infectious diseases, or sustaining a viable economy. Although every societal problem has unique regional characteristics that require attention, there are sufficient implications across regions for which only globally coordinated efforts will be successful. The recent assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their impacts on public and policy-maker perceptions provide one example of successful cooperation on a near-global scale. The betterment of humankind depends on a deliberate move from being an international community of scientists to being a truly global community.

As more countries have invested in science and technology to advance their societies, high-quality science is increasingly being carried out in every part of the world. The scientific enterprise has become highly collaborative both within and across countries. These trends present great opportunities and increasing obligations for the scientific community to contribute to solving society's major problems. But efforts will be successful only if the community can function in a much more globally integrated way.

Becoming global can only happen if the differences among national scientific communities are reduced. For example, there is substantial variation in the norms and standards that govern the work of scientists in different countries. Effective collaboration requires harmonizing these standards of conduct so that scientists can work together with full trust and confidence. Consider the work of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, which has been striving as a community to develop global guidelines for embryonic stem cell research so that biological materials developed in one nation can be shared with others. Similar concerns apply to other policies concerning the conduct of science, such as those regarding the use of human subjects, animal welfare, or work on genetically modified organisms. Harmonizing norms and standards may be the most pressing need for successful globalization. But disparate national intellectual property rules and regulations can also deter international cooperation, as can differing publication and information access policies.
UNESCO, as the lead agency for both Natural Sciences and Social and Human Sciences in the network of intergovernmental organizations, should take this editorial in one of the leading scientific journals of the world to heart. This is especially true in that UNESCO has decades of experience helping its member nations coordinate norms and standards in its fields of expertise.

Smithsonian Film Collection Added to UNESCO Memory of the World List

The John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection, 1950-2000, held at the Smithsonian Institution's Human Studies Film Archives, is one of the seminal visual anthropology projects of the twentieth century. It is unique in the world for the scope of its sustained audiovisual documentation of one cultural group, the Ju/'hoansi, of the Kalahari Desert, in northeastern Namibia. Created over a span of 50 years, it is an unparalleled historical record not only of an indigenous people's traditional lifeways and ties to the land but of the transformation of these lifeways in the rapidly changing political and economic landscape that developed in concert with the struggle for Namibian independence.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

News About UNESCO Jobs

A number of senior positions in UNESCO are being recruited, reflecting the change in administration of the Organization. The following recruitments, originally to close in December, have been extended to January 27th.

Two other important positions are closing on February 8th:
This should be a good time for those seeking jobs in UNESCO, since a large portion of the Secretariat is at or near retirement age and, since there has been a small increase in UNESCO's budget, their positions should be refilled on retirement of the current occupant.

According to the State Department
UNESCO will not be soliciting applications for the Young Professionals Program for 2010. We do anticipate that the program will restart for 2011 and therefore a new application will be available during the fall of 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

National Commission to hold Telephone Meeting Tomorrow

The Annual Meeting Teleconference will take place on Thursday, December 17.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10am and last until approximately 1pm. There is a fifteen minute period of time set aside for members of the public to either make comments or ask questions. That portion of the call is scheduled to take place at approximately 12:25pm.

You may still be able to participate by contacting the National Commission secretariat in the Department of State.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

American Film Star Visits UNESCO

Vin Diesel recently attended a meeting at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris to present the launch of the One Race Global Film Foundation for Peace and Development. The first initiative of this program, in collaboration with Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti and President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, brought Haitian student ambassadors to Santo Domingo to participate in the ORGFF’s Summer Intensive Institute. The ORGFF for Peace and Development seeks to use film production as a tool for promoting conflict resolution and intercultural exchanges between nations historically at odds.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

UNESCO publishes outcome brochure of its conference on broadcast media and climate change

Last September UNESCO, in partnership with UNEP, organized an International Conference on ‘Broadcast Media and Climate Change: A Public Service Remit’. As a result of this event, international and regional broadcasting unions have decided to increase cooperation in order to give media exposure to climate change. UNESCO launches a brochure, A Commitment to Act Now: Broadcast Media and Climate Change, published as an outcome of the Conference.

"Climate Change and Water"

This special report brings together messages on water and climate change from the World Water Development Report 3: "Water in a Changing World." The WWDR3 shows that changes in our water resources are shaped to a great extent by a number of key externalities, among them climate change, and that decisions taken far from the conventionally defined water sector have a tremendous influence on water resources and how they are used or misused.

Full report in PDF format (2.73 MB);Number of pages: 28; Publication date: November 2009

First North American UNESCO water centre established

UNESCO and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have signed an agreement establishing the UNESCO International Centre for Integrated Water Resources Management (ICIWaRM) in Alexandria, Virginia. The ICIWaRM is now the 13th member of UNESCO’s global network of water centres. The new centre would notably increase support to developing countries, especially in Africa, but also in Latin America and the Caribbean. The overall mission of the new centre is “the advancement of the science and practice of integrated water resources management to address water security and other water-related challenges by regional and global action, through new knowledge, innovative technologies, collaborative interdisciplinary scientific research, networking, training and capacity development within the framework of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme.”

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

UNESCO chief speaks out at murder of another Mexican journalist

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom has condemned the murder of Mexican journalist José Emilio Galindo Robles, the second such killing in less than one month.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

COP-15 and the UNESCO Intersectoral Platform for Action to Address Climate Change Copenhagen, 7 - 18 December 2009

With 15,000 people expected to fill the halls of the Bella Center in Copenhagen to capacity during the COP15 UN Framework on Climate Change Conference, expectations are again on the rise. “The UN has stated clearly that the goal we would like to see is ambitious: for all nations to share a common vision of what is needed to be done or, at a minimum, what is needed to agree on in order to mitigate causes of climate change,” said Patricio Bernal, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

More about the UNESCO Intersectoral Platform for Action to Address Climate Change

Director General's Address to the Executive Board

Irina Bokova, the new Director General of UNESCO addressed the Executive Board last week, her first opportunity to do so since her investiture. She previously served as the representative of Bulgaria to the Executive Board and so has inside knowledge of the functioning of the Board.

I quote from her address:
With our fields of competence in education, culture, natural science, social and human sciences, communication and information, combined with our two priorities – gender equality and Africa – we are in a unique position in the multilateral arena, in order:
  • first, to assist in harnessing globalization more in the service of humanity andsustainable development and in attaining internationally recognized developmentobjectives, in particular the Millennium Development Goals;
  • second, to make a difference internationally, and at the national level in particular, through effective high-quality activities in our fields of competence, in which we must play an international leadership role;
  • third, to refine our unique role in the multilateral system, as an Organization that promotes and facilitates dialogue among decision-makers, scientists, the academic world, intellectuals, members of civil society, journalists, spiritual leaders and many others; this must have a definite impact on the overriding goal of our Constitution, which is to construct the defences of peace in the minds of men and women;
  • fourth, to continue to contribute fully to the reform of the United Nations, in particular at the country level, in order to highlight our capability to meet the Member States’ priorities and demands.

Colorado State University Part of New Consortium

Colorado State University is a founding member of the newly approved North American UNESCO water center in the United States
The agreement means that the roughly 120 professors conducting water-related research at Colorado State will help provide guidance on issues largely facing the world including:
• hydrologic and hydraulic engineering;
• water planning and systems management;
• water policy development and governance;
• ecosystem sustainability;
• socioeconomic analysis;
• conflict resolution; and
• global change.

First Consultation Meeting of IFAP National Committees to take place next week in Moscow

The First Consultation Meeting of National Committees for UNESCO’s Information for All Program (IFAP) will take place on 7 and 8 December 2009 in Moscow, Russia. This meeting is jointly organized by the IFAP Intergovernmental Council, the UNESCO Secretariat, the Russian IFAP Committee and its working body - the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre. It is officially sponsored by the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and the Russian Ministry of Culture.

The main purpose of this meeting is to share information about the current activities of existing National IFAP Committees, discuss the prospects for future cooperation, as well as the possibilities for strengthening inter-regional and multilateral collaborations, increasing the Program’s visibility and funding. The participants will also discuss ways of implementing the National Information Society Policy, a template document which was recently developed by IFAP.
The 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 organization, 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 competence; and
  • promote information and knowledge networking at local, national, regional and international levels.
IFAP was created in 2000. Through IFAP, Governments of the world have pledged to harness the new opportunities of the information age to create equitable societies through better access to information.

The United States is not a donor to the IFAP program and it is not represented on the Intergovernmental Council for the program. There is no U.S. National Committee for IFAP.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Virtual Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will host its Annual Meeting on Thursday, December 17, 2009, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Eastern Time by telephone conference.

The meeting will have a series of subject-specific reports and allow for brief question and answer periods. The Commission will accept brief oral comments or questions from the public or media during a portion of this approximately three-hour conference call. The public comment period will be limited to approximately 15 minutes in total, with two minutes allowed per speaker. Those who wish to present oral comments or listen to the conference call must make arrangements with the Executive Secretariat of the National Commission by December 14, 2009.

The National Commission may be contacted via e-mail at, or via phone at (202) 663-0026. Its Web site can be accessed at:

Budget of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The IOC and its IODE Programme are supported by a combination of UNESCO Regular Programme funds (funds provided to UNESCO by its Member States) and extra-budgetary contributions provided to UNESCO (to Funds-In-Trust) or directly to the IOC (to the IOC Special Account). The budget of the UNESCO Regular Programme is adopted by the UNESCO General Conference for a 2-year period (biennium).

The IOC budget from the UNESCO Regular Programme is approximately USD 4,000,000/biennium (average 2002-2007). A similar amount is allocated for core staff positions (professional and support staff). In 2006/2007 the IOC had a total of 21 UNESCO staff positions of which 9 were professional (P) and 12 support staff (G).

Below you can see the evolution of the UNESCO Regular Programme contributions between 1971 and 2009 (in millions of US dollars).

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Experts' meeting on the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and its Applications

Last summer UNESCO joined with other organizations to convene an expert meeting on the rights of people to enjoy the benefits of science and the applications of science. Now a brochure has been published with the findings of that meeting.

The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (REBSP) is enshrined in various international and regional instruments. It was proclaimed for the first time in Article 13 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948) which states that “every person has the right […] to participate in the benefits that result from intellectual progress, especially scientific discoveries.”

The REBSP was further enshrined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which stipulates that “everyone has the right […] to share in scientific advancements and its benefits.”

This right became a binding norm when it was included in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966), which recognizes “the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.”

World Science Forum Wound Up on a Cautiously Optimistic Note

Great responsibility rests on scientists in giving help to politicians enabling them to bring good long-term political decisions in Copenhagen at the coming climate summit.

In this respect the World Science Forum held in Budapest certainly has its merits, said Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai at WSF’s 7 November closing session. WSF had a message to players outside the scientific field, to representatives of government, decision-makers in business, but also to the average person. Everyone should understand what an important role science plays in forming the future.

Read more!

International Year of Biodiversity 2010

The UN-declared International Year of Biodiversity marks the 2010 Biodiversity Target aiming to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by this date.

UNESCO joins the Convention on Biological Diversity, the lead UN body and other UN, international and national partners to make the IYB an effective instrument to advance the cause of biodiversity conservation. During the Year, UNESCO will lead several activities which aim to educate and to raise public awareness on the reasons for conserving biodiversity, to fill the gaps in our knowledge of biodiversity and to catalyze further international action for its sustainable use.

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