Saturday, January 30, 2010

Secretary Clinton During Her Visit to Paris

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, yesterday in Paris acknowledged the Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, David Killion. She thanked Ambassador Killion for helping the Untied States to reenter UNESCO, and for setting the right tone, and for his work on many of the important issues that matter to our country.

She said:
I also want to acknowledge Ambassador Killion’s work with the new UNESCO Director-General Bokova, whom I met with last week. I was proud to offer our support for the organization’s comprehensive agenda, not only encouraging freedom of expression and promoting advances in science and engineering, but concentrating on women and girls around the world, particularly their education, something which is key to America’s efforts to stabilize countries, to resolve conflicts, to raise the aspirations and incomes of societies. And I look forward to working with David.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Irianian Scientist Delegate to UNESCO's SESAME Assassinated

Source: "Killing of Professor Sparks Fight Over His Science and His Politics," Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Science 22 January 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5964, p. 401, DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5964.401-a

Iranian physicist, Masoud Alimohammadi, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Tehran, was picked to be Iran's representative for an international scientific facility being built in Jordan called SESAME, Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East.

Last week, Alimohammadi was assassinated by a remote-controlled motorcycle bomb outside of his apartment. And the country's guardians clutched him even tighter to their bosom. Iranian authorities characterized the killing as an attempt by U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies to rein in Iran's nuclear program.

SESAME is of course a UNESCO backed initiative.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

UNESCO IYB Biodiversity Science-Policy Conference

2010 is the United Nations’ International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). In kicking off its year long program of events celebrating biodiversity and the global effort to preserve it, UNESCO last week held its IYB Biodiversity Science Policy Conference. Scientists participated in the conference to present new scientific findings on biodiversity and ecosystem services, including in relation to global and climate change and to assess related implications for policy-making.

While taking into account the priorities expressed by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Conference was intended to pay special attention to the voice of the scientific community in order to bring novel knowledge that could be used in the context of biodiversity-related decisions.

The Keynote Address at the conference was presented by Ed Wilson, America's grand champion in the battle to recognize, classify and preserve biodiversity.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ambassador Killion Meets With Americans for UNESCO

Ambassador Killion sits at the head of the table
Photo: Nicole Varchaver

Ambassador David Killion, together with Kelly Seikman (the Director of the UNESCO Affairs Office in the State Department) and Elizabeth Kanick (the Executive Director of the National Commission for UNESCO), met yesterday with members of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO. They expressed great satisfaction with the visit of UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova to the United States. Director General Bokova met with both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Education as well as with Congressional leaders during her visit, and all offered encouragement for her efforts to lead UNESCO and support for UNESCO's mission to promote peace, education, science and culture.

We were also informed that there will soon be recruitment of new staff members for both the UNESCO Affairs Office and the Delegation in Paris), and that efforts are under way to reconstitute the National Commission membership and plan for a meeting of the National Commission this year.

UNESCO is currently recruiting senior staff to fill out Director General Bokova's team, including a new Deputy Director General and seven Assistant Director Generals. The conversations this week were of course often concerned with Haiti, but also with efforts to improve education and especially girls education. 2010 is the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures, and of course UNESCO will play a key role in its observation.

Elizabeth Kanick to Killion's left and Kelly Seikman to his righ
Photo: Nicole Varchaver

Video: Secretary Clinton Meets Director General Bokova

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m just so delighted to have this meeting and to have a chance to talk with the new director general about the upcoming agenda for UNESCO. We are so pleased to have her here in the United States and at the State Department, and I look forward to a very substantive discussion today and a lot of work ahead.

DIRECTOR GENERAL BOKOVA: Thank you. Thank you very much. I am very pleased to have my first official visit in the United States. I hope this is a new, fresh start of our cooperation. I’m very excited. We have an agenda. It’s education, it’s science, it’s climate change, it’s education of girls, of women, literacy. I am very much looking forward to talking to you about all these issues.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much.

DIRECTOR GENERAL BOKOVA: Thank you. Thank you very much.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Reception for Irina Bokova

I was fortunate enough yesterday to attend a reception to honor UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova hosted by the United Nations Foundation. The reception was held in the Rayburn Office Building of the U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Russ Carnahan, who had met with Bokova earlier in the day, welcomed the many guests to the reception. Ambassador David Killion, the U.S. Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, introduced Director General Bokova, who made a few gracious remarks, underlying the importance of UNESCO and her intention of making it a still more effective and important organization. I remain awed by her command of languages. I can testify personally that she speaks flawless English and French, and have been told by a friend who is a native speaker of Russian that her Russian is perfect. A Bulgarian, I hear she also speaks Spanish, bring her to a total of five languages.

Director General Bokova was in the United States for the launch of the 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report at the United Nations. She shared the podium at that event with United Nations Director General Ban Ki-Moon. She met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday before the reception, an indication of the importance that the Obama administration gives to UNESCO's educational, scientific and cultural programs.

It is time to strenthen UNESCO's earthquake science program

In a conference in 2008, a scientist from the University of Texas forecast the likelihood of a major earthquake in Haiti. We see now that he was correct, and can only regret that there was not more done to prepare Haiti and its people for that event. Today there is a massive expression of American concern for the people of Haiti who have already suffered a huge death toll, one that is likely to increase from illnesses in the aftermath of the earthquake. The development of this poorest nation in the hemisphere has been set back for years, and it is clear already that there will be a period of years needed simply to reconstruct that which has been damaged.

There is no way to prevent earthquakes, but it is possible to build in such a way as to reduce the damage done by earthquakes and to prepare for relief to ameliorate the suffering that follows them. UNESCO's Geosciences program includes efforts to mitigate the risks of geohazards. Indeed it has created a project that is working specifically in the cities of Latin America.

In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, UNESCO moved to create a global tsunami warning system, based on a center in Hawaii. It is now time for the United States to encourage and help UNESCO to strengthen its efforts to reduce geohazard risks, especially in our own neighborhood, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interview with Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

The Interview was held on January 20th at United Nations headquarters in New York.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"UK meeting aims for new global biodiversity deal"

Source: Richard Black, BBC News, 18 January 2010.
Ingredients of a new deal on protecting global biodiversity are likely to be decided this week at a London meeting.

About 55 nations are sending delegates to the meeting, which will be chaired by UK and Brazilian ministers.

A key aim is to agree what sort of targets should be set at October's UN biodiversity summit for curbing the loss of species and ecosystems.
UNESCO is celebrating 2010, the United Nations Year of Biodiversity, and has an important program on People, Biodiversity and Ecology. Notable within this program is the world network of 553 bioreserves which has developed under UNESCO encouragement. The network provides a global mechanism for research and the development of the understanding needed to preserve biodiversity.

Editorial Comment: Unfortunately, the Bush administration withdrew U.S. support for the the participation of American scientists and U.S. bioreserves in the global network. The U.S. National Commission has recommended that the participation be restarted, and that remains a challenge for the new team appointed by the Obama administration. 2010, the Year of Biodiversity, would seem to require action on this recommendation.
John Daly
(The opinions expressed above are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

UNESCO is seeking a new Deputy Director General

UNESCO is advertising the post of Deputy Director General. The deadline for applications for the post is March 14th, 2010. If strong candidates apply from the United States, there is every reason to believe that an American might be selected for the position.

The position description states:
Within the framework of UNESCO’s mandate and its strategic objectives, the Deputy Director-General provides strategic direction and oversight to the Director-General on the general management of the Organization, its response to Member States’ priorities and Executive Board and General Conference decisions.

The incumbent supports the Director-General in ensuring coherence of activities and programmes, at Headquarters and in the Field, that cross functional sectors.

The incumbent will specifically:
- Provide strategic direction and advice to the Director-General on programmes and operations.
- Undertake initiatives of high priority at the request of the Director-General.
- Assist the Director-General to heighten public awareness of UNESCO’s priority activities.
- Represent the Director-General and chair various meetings and task forces.
- Act on behalf of the Director-General during her absence and when required.
- Carry out and hold additional responsibilities as delegated by the Director-General.

Friday, January 15, 2010

UNESCO urges 'Malsin's immediate and unconditional release'

The Ma'an News Agency reports the following:
UNESCO and the office in the occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza strip is expressing deep concern about the detention of the Chief English Editor of the Ma'an News Agency, Mr. Jared Malsin, a U.S. citizen, by the Israeli authorities at the Ben Gurion International airport on 12 January, 2010 and the plans to deport him.

Ma'an is editorially independent and pluralistic Palestinian news agency, based in Bethlehem. During the past five years, UNESCO has worked together with Ma'an to supported several initiatives and projects in cooperation with Ma'an that promote freedom of expression, access to information and development of the Palestinian society.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

State Department Information on UNESCO Job Openings

The following UNESCO job openings have been spotlighted by the U.S. Department of State:

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

DIRECTOR, Bureau of Human Resources Management; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (HRM-237); Paris, France
(AdvDeg: HR/Bus-PblcAdm/Mgmt; 15+ yrs nat’l-int’l exp; Fr); D-2; $191K Closing date: 02/08/10

ASSISTANT FUNCTIONAL SPECIALIST, HR Applications; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (ADM-114); Paris, France
(AdvDeg: CompSci/IT; 2+ yrs (1+ yrs int’l & 2+ yrs sys appl) exp; Fr); P-1/P-2; $71/86KClosing date: 01/04/10

(AdvDeg: Commun/MediaStdys/Journ; 5+ yrs (2+ yrs int’l) exp; Fr); P-3; $78K Closing date: 01/04/10

PROGRAM SPECIALIST, (Education); UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (AF/RP/ZIM/ED/0008); Harare, Zimbabwe
(AdvDeg: Edu; 7+ yrs (5+ yrs int’l) exp; Fr); P-4; $97K Closing date: 01/25/10

(AdvDeg: Tech/Voc/Edu; 7+ yrs (5+ yrs int’l) exp; Fr); P-4; $112K Closing date: 01/25/10

PROGRAM SPECIALIST, ICT in Education; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (ED-283);Paris, France
(AdvDeg: Edu/Info/Commun; 7+ yrs (3+ yrs int’l) exp; Fr); P-4; $123K Closing date: 02/03/10

FRENCH SPEECHWRITER, Speechwriting Section; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (ODG-051); Paris, France
(AdvDeg: Edu; 7+ yrs (3+ yrs int’l) exp; Fr); P-4; $123K Closing date: 02/09/10

(AdvDeg: Biol/Chem/Phys; 10+ yrs (5+ yrs int’l) exp; Fr); P-5; $116K Closing date: 02/22/10

ASSISTANT PROGRAM SPECIALIST; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (CLT-006);Paris, France
(AdvDeg: Int’lRel/PblcAdm; 2+ yrs (2+ yrs int’l) exp; Fr); P-1/P-2; $70/86K Closing date: 02/22/10

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Will Lidia Brito put the science back into UNESCO?"

Source: Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net, 11 January 2010

"In October Lidia Brito, Mozambique's ex-science minister and a forestry researcher from the country's Eduardo Mondlane University, was appointed as head of the science policy division at UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

"She took up the post on 1 December, taking over from Mustafa El Tayeb, who has led UNESCO's science policy work since 1996.

"Brito's experience helping to write and implement successful science policies in Mozambique has ensured she is a popular choice for the post, particularly as she will be working with countries across the continent to develop their own science policies. Here she speaks toSciDev.Net about her plans."

Read more!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

GWU UNESCO Seminar Starts Thursday

A graduate seminar on UNESCO is to be offered for the fourth time, beginning Thursday, January 14th. A complete description of the seminar as it was offered last year is to be found here.

U.S. Photographer Participates in Books on World Heritage Sites

New York photographer and journalist Michael McNamara has recently completed two photo & video documentaries for – OUR PLACE, The World Heritage Collection – a publishing house that is creating the world’s largest photographic collection of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Panasonic has continually supported the UNESCO partnered World Heritage photographic project, OUR PLACE since its inception in 2006. McNamara is also Editor-in-Chief of the McNamara Report, an Internet portal discussing the latest technologies, issues, and trends affecting pro photographers, photo enthusiasts, and the imaging industry.

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Issue of A World of Science

A World of Science in January

Wildlife in a Warming World

Even global warming of 2°C this century – considered the safety threshold by scientists – will stress species and ecosystems. In order for important decisions about conservation, land-use and resource management to be made with confidence, scientists are developing new techniques and models to reduce the uncertainties as to how species and ecosystems will respond to climate change.

Back to the Moon

Egyptian-born geologist Farouk El-Baz explains why the recent discovery of water on the Moon could dramatically reduce the cost of colonizing our satellite and why the quest for energy is at the heart of the emerging Moon race.

The Bushbruckridge healers’ path to justice

Having recently discovered their rights, the traditional healers in a biosphere reserve in South Africa intend to exercise them, in order to protect the medicinal plants that are their livelihood and the health of the communities they serve.

Can a blue dye help save the Aral Sea?

If a UNESCO project in Uzbekistan goes ahead as planned, a natural blue dye may soon be helping to solve some of the most acute socio-economic and ecological problems of the ravaged Aral Sea Basin.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

UNESCO's work in promoting sustainable development in Africa

Naoline Raondry-Rakotoarisoa talks about UNESCO's work in promoting sustainable development in Africa. The presentation was made as part of the discussion at the Nairobi Manifesto Roundtable.

An Interview with the Director General

The Guardian Weekly has an interesting interview with Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO. Among other things she states:
I shall be defending, alongside Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary general, and other UN agencies, the concept of a global initiative on climate change in line with the multidisciplinary approach we have been developing for several years.

This concerns four main sectors in which Unesco is particularly strong: science and knowledge about the climate; a cluster that includes the work of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the International Hydrological Programme and our network of water-related institutes and university chairs; education on sustainable development, which means changing the way teachers are trained and the content of teaching, and initiating training in green economics; culture and heritage, both natural and cultural, a field that is specifically ours. (The biosphere reserves, under Unesco control, cover 300,000 hectares of woodland worldwide). And the social and ethical consequences of global warming on refugees and women.

Unesco is preparing a statement of ethical principles on climate change. This helps us to look beyond Copenhagen, because we must do a great deal more than cut CO2 emissions. We have to change education, our way of life, our economies.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

FIVE years after the tsunami in the Indian Ocean

Before the tsunami of December 2004, there was no system in the Indian Ocean to warn coastal populations of imminent danger. Now, five years later and following intensive efforts by twenty-eight governments around the Indian Ocean and a huge international drive coordinated by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, a regional end-to-end tsunami and multi-hazard warning system is firmly in place.

UNESCO Club Member Aid China with Model UN

Source: "UNESCO representative's trip to China proves interesting, encouraging," Nicholas C. Stern, The Frederick News Post, January 01, 2010.

Seth Roberts, a secondary social studies teacher specialist for Frederick County Public Schools, recently traveled to Zhuji, a city of about a million people in southeastern China. He went as a member of Frederick 's UNESCO Center for Peace to instruct a group of about 40 teachers and others at an international school on how to operate a model U.N. program.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Places to look for job opportunities at UNESCO

In addition to the UNESCO employment site with its listing of vacant posts, here are a couple of websites listing posts available at UNESCO:

Africa Analysis: A level playing field for biodiversity

Source: Linda Nordling, SciDev.Net, 22 December 2009

In 2010, the UN's International Year of Biodiversity, the world is expected to agree new goals for preserving species.

The Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), scheduled for late October next year in Nagoya, Japan, will also try to establish an international framework for ensuring more equitable access to, and sharing of, genetic resources.

But like many regions, Africa is already certain to fail to "achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss" — the last CBD target set in 2002. Scientists say extinction rates are accelerating rather than slowing down and biodiversity-rich areas such as Africa are particularly vulnerable to the decline.

Will new targets for 2020 be any more achievable?

Comment from the editor: UNESCO can play a key roll in the next few months helping African nations to plan for the October meeting, and indeed in participating in the International Year for Biodiversity and preparing for the long term effort needed to preserve and protect African biodiversity.

It is especially important that the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO revive and support the U.S. committee for the UNESCO's People, Biodiversity and Ecology Program. The U.S. scientific community working in the field of biodiversity is the world's strongest, and UNESCO needs its active participation to achieve what is must in this important endeavor. JAD

Sunday, January 03, 2010

International Year of Biodiversity 2010

The United Nations has declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. The year is to be a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity.

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.