Tuesday, February 23, 2010

World Bank Group and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Pledge to Protect Wetlands

The Livanjsko Polje Ramsar site in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
(photo by Tobias Salathé)

The World Bank Group and the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR) on February 16 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in a program of scientific and technical exchange including technical expertise and capacity building related to wetlands and climate change.

Specifically, the MoU provides for cooperation between the two institutions on the following aspects:

a) The assessment, formulation, and development of climate change projects in wetlands.

b) The development of tools and methodologies to assess the magnitude of carbon sinks in mangroves.

c) The assessment of biomass density in wetlands.

d) The development of the wetlands typology and protocol for assessing net carbon storage or CO2 emissions under different conditions.

e) The formulation of “carbon sink assets” in wetlands.

f) Joint reporting in the technical scientific literature of the results of the cooperation; and

g) Exchange of scientific and technical support for the purposes of the points referred above

Read more!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Presidential Science Envoy Dr. Elias Zerhouni Visits UNESCO

On February 10, Dr. Elias Zerhouni met with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and key UNESCO ambassadors and secretariat staff. In his meetings, he outlined the Obama Administration's plans to develop scientific centers of excellence in the Muslim world, to use modern technologies to create economic and social opportunities, and to foster enterprise within individual countries on a local level.
"We must promote the idea of impactful science and technology initiatives that lead to entrepreneurship and to wealth creation."
Dr. Elias Zerhouni is on a ten-day trip to France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait in his role as Presidential Science Envoy. Dr. Zdfhouni is a distinguished radiologist who has published extensively on medical imaging. He served as Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health from 2002 to 2008, after which service he returned to Johns Hopkins University, his long time academic home.

Dr. Zerhouni now serves on the boards of the Lasker Foundation, Research America, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and the Mayo Clinic Foundation. He also serves as an external chief advisor for global science and technology for Sanofi-Aventis and was named chair of the Maryland Economic Development Commission in April 2009. He was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Profile of Esther Coopersmith

The Washington Scene recently published a profile of Esther Coopersmith, the longtime chair of the Advisory Committee of Americans for UNESCO. She was honored as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialog last September. In conferring this honor, UNESCO's Director General paid
special tribute to Esther Coopersmith, whose energy and devotion to UNESCO’s ideals was a driving force in both the U.S. return and subsequent strong re-engagement. Over the past decade, she has been an outspoken advocate for UNESCO within the US, helping to make our work better known among the American public and forge new ties and friendships.
The UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors are celebrity advocates who use their talent and fame to spread the ideals of UNESCO by attracting the public’s attention to its activities. They include South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, French philanthropist Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, Italian actress Claudia Cardinale, Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco, and Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum.

I understand she is also to serve as a member of UNESCO's High Level Panel on Dialog of Civilizations which has its first meeting on Thursday, February 18th. The High Level Panel is to provide "thoughtful guidance and creative initiative" for UNESCO in its celebration of the 2010 International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

UNESCO and CTBTO sign agreement to benefit disaster mitigation and capacity-building in developing countries

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, signed an agreement on 3 February with Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), to enhance cooperation between the two organizations, notably for the benefit of tsunami early warning systems and capacity-building in developing countries.

The verification regime of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) uses cutting-edge technologies and scientific methods to monitor the planet for nuclear explosions. The resulting data offer a wide range of civil and scientific applications. The CTBTO also organizes workshops, seminars and other training activities around the world.

Read more of the ReliefWeb article!

UNESCO identifies post-disaster priorities for science in Haiti

I quote in full from a UNESCO webpage:

Water was one of the most urgent priorities. UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America, situated in Montevideo, has been in touch with the National Committees of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) in countries across Latin America, which are eager to backstop projects by the National Committee in Haiti to improve water management. IHP committees are helping to put together an action plan for integrated water resources management with the participation of institutions linked to the IHP National Committee in Haiti. On 29 January, the co-ordinators of the regional IHP programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean met with staff from the UNESCO offices in Montevideo, Havana, Mexico City, Quito, Brazil and San Jose, to put together a proposal. Moreover, within UNESCO’s Groundwater for Emergency Situations programme, there are plans to liaise with other competent UN bodies to identify groundwater resources in Haiti which could provide a safe water supply.

UNESCO will contribute to mapping Port-au-Prince for multi-hazards and risks. It will also help to rehabilitate the heavily damaged Centre national de l’information géospatial (CNIGS) in Haiti. Bernard Hadjadj, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova’s Special Envoy to Haiti, had paid a visit to the centre and was able to speak to one of the surviving experts. UNESCO will also be providing Haiti with advice on basic building codes and practices to help ensure that reconstructed buildings are able to withstand any future disaster far better than during the 12 January earthquake. For the longer term, UNESCO has prepared a proposal for the establishment of the Haitian Institute of Science, Engineering and Disaster Risk Reduction to assess risks from natural hazards, design and implement plans at both the national and local levels to mitigate the effect of natural disasters and provide education and training while boosting public awareness.

UNESCO has also obtained satellite images to elaborate detailed risk assessment cartography for cultural heritage in Haiti . This is being done within the framework of the joint European Space Agency–UNESCO Open Initiative on the Use of Space Technologies to support World Heritage.

Prior to the earthquake, there were plans to create the first biosphere reserve in Haiti. Transborder co-operation holds great potential, as the Dominican Republic would be able to help Haiti identify ways to increase agricultural productivity along the border.

Meanwhile, experts from UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) have launched a full performance assessment of the Caribbean Tsunami Warning System. Preliminary results should be available by mid-February. Some IOC experts are travelling to the Dominican Republic in the first week of February to provide technical assistance for the island’s coastal hazards and warning systems, which include tsunamis, in agreement with the IOC’s Haitian partners. A field survey to capture essential scientific data is also under preparation.

UNESCO will be advocating reconstruction that fully takes into account the need to make Haïti safer than before from natural hazards.

Related links:

:: See the interview of Badaoui Rouhban (More)
:: UNESCO Natural Disaster Reduction Programme (
:: Mobilizing for Haiti (
:: UNESCO Director-General appeals for emergency aid for Haiti (

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Int'l Symposium on Heritage Recording & Information Management in the Digital Age (SMARTDoc Heritage)

The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation/School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with the R. Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (University of Leuven) are organizing an International Symposium on Heritage Recording and Information Management in the Digital Age (SMARTDoc Heritage), March 26-27, 2010 in Philadelphia, USA.

Beginning in 2006 Robin Letelier brought his vision of an integrated graduate level course in heritage recording, documentation and information management to the Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. Today that course curriculum, now under the direction of Mario Santana, represents the synthesis of principles and practices considered fundamental knowledge for all heritage professionals. This symposium, initially planned by Robin at UPenn, is dedicated to that vision and his tireless effort to promote heritag e conservation through research, teaching, and public service.

More information about the symposium: http://www.smartdocheritage.org

Thursday, February 04, 2010

UNESCO Meeting on Biodiversity

Source: Maxims News Network, February 4, 2010

"Concern about the unprecedented erosion of biodiversity was discussed at the event organized at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters recently by high-level participants including Irina Bokova, the new UNESCO Director-General; Davidson Hepburn, Chairperson of UNESCO General Conference; Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); Jochen Flashbarth, President of the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) to the CBD; Monique Barbut, Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Global Biodiversity Facility (GEF) and Angel Cropper, Deputy Executive Director the the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

"There was a unanimous conclusion of all the participants that halting the unprecedented erosion of biodiversity and raising awareness of the need to change our behaviour are urgent priorities.

"The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, declared in a video message at the opening of the meeting that, 'We must not be discouraged by the outcomes' of the UN Climate Change Conference last December in Copenhagen."

SHS e-News -- Just published

February 2010

  • UNESCO/ISESCO Arab Research-Policy Network on Economic,

Social and Cultural Rights (ARADESC)

UNESCO Office in Rabat

Rabat, UNESCO Office in Rabat, 2009. 9 p. (brochure)


Available in English [PDF, 489 KB], Arabic [PDF, 625 KB] and French [PDF, 290 KB]

  • Philosophy, a School of Freedom

Just published in Arabic [PDF, 16 MB]

Already published in English [PDF, 14 MB] and French [PDF, 15 MB]

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

World Press Freedom Day, 2010

The University of Queensland in Brisbane Australia has launched the official 2010 World Press Freedom Day global conference website at www.wpfd2010.org.

New Issue of A World of Science

A World of Science (January–March 2010)

2 Wildlife in a warming world

10 Science must be a priority, says new UNESCO head
10 Concern over budget for science
11 Colombia hosts Year’s largest space marathon
11 Launch of consortium for science in the South
12 Three science prizes awarded
12 A biosphere school for Guinea Bissau
13 Healthier oceans vital for combating climate change
14 Collapse of karez forces Iraqis to abandon homes
14 Sustainable development needs cultural dimension
15 Two Nobel Prizes for L’ORÉAL–UNESCO laureates
15 18 countries test tsunami system

16 Farouk El-Baz returns to the Moon

18 The Bushbuckridge healers’ path to justice
21 Can a blue dye help save the Aral Sea?

24 Diary
24 New releases

Monday, February 01, 2010

February 2nd is World Wetlands Day

Laguna Hedionda, Los Lípez Ramsar site, Bolivia (Photo Omar Rocha)

Best wishes to the Secretariat for the Ramsar Convention (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance) on World Wetlands Day, celebrating the 39th anniversary of the its adoption. The Ramsar Convention is a site-based intergovernmental treaty which encourages countries to identify and manage specific places so that their values and benefits are protected for future generations. It is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem.

World Heritage and Ramsar sites are commonly associated throughout the world. Some notable examples include Brazil's immense Pantanal wetlands, the Sundarbans mangrove forests of Bangladesh, the Tubbataha National Marine Park in the Philippines and the Danube Delta in Romania.

UNESCO is the Depository of the Ramsar Convention. UNESCO and Ramsar join efforts to preserve important sites.

Apollo 11 moon site named California historical resource

"On Friday, California became the first state to register the items at Tranquility Base as an official State Historical Resource.

"The unanimous vote by the eight-member California State Historical Resources Commission is part of a five-state effort to have Tranquility Base become a national historic landmark and then a world heritage site.

"Texas is part of that effort, along with New Mexico, Alabama and Florida — the other states highly involved in the Apollo program.

"Some scientists want to have Tranquility Base designated a U.N. World Heritage Site in advance of what they believe will be unmanned trips to the moon by private groups, and even someday by tourists."

Source: Statesman.com