Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brian O’Dwyer appointed to UNESCO commission

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appointed New York Irish-American attorney Brian O’Dwyer as Commissioner of the United States National Commission for UNESCO. The panel works with the State Department to further American participation in the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization.

O’Dwyer, managing partner of the renowned Manhattan-based law firm of O’Dwyer and Bernstien, regularly commentates on legal issues for Fox TV, Court TV, CNBC, New York 1 and CNN en EspaƱol.

Widely known for his advocacy in support of the rights of labor unions and immigrants, he presently serves as chairman of New York’s Emerald Isle Immigration Center and Asociacion Tepeyac, which serves the city’s Mexican immigrant community.

Happy Birthday MAB

2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program. Among planned activities is a web-based forum, in which various dimensions and activities of MAB will be addressed. The idea is to encourage contributions on what has been learned over the last four decades – what has worked and what has not worked, and why.

The MAB Program was conceived, planned and launched some four decades ago. It is science-based, with multiple stakeholders and constituencies. It combines research, education and training, demonstration and the synthesis of information for different audiences. It involves cooperation at nested scales – local, sub-national, national, regional and global. It seeks to combine "philosophical visions" and innovative concepts with collaborative problem-solving work in selected parts of the biosphere where people live and work. It is firmly based on national priorities and efforts.

The overall objective is to reconcile the conservation of biological diversity with socio-economic needs and cultural integrity – in short, sustainable development. Today, the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) includes 563 biosphere reserves in 110 countries worldwide.

The United States was an early and active member of MAB and entered some 50 locations in the worldwide network of biosphere reserves. Scientists working in those reserves were active in exchanging information with their colleagues working in reserves in other countries and in building the scientific capacity of the network. When the United States withdrew from UNESCO, for a number of years the Congress appropriated funds to the State Department to continue U.S. scientific cooperation with MAB. However, in later years not only were those contributions no longer provided, but the U.S. National Committee for MAB was disbanded and the State Department stopped participating in MAB activities. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO has recommended that the United States return to full involvement in MAB, and it is hoped that the Congress will soon support that reengagement.

One of the U.S. Biosphere Reserves

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Americans Honored at UNESCO IOC

UNESCO recently announced that three Americans would be honored with the IOC 50th Anniversary Commemorative medal for their exemplary dedication to the IOC, it’s mission, and continuing support for IOC activities.

The Americans being honored are James Baker, Louis Brown and Sydney Levitus.

You can read more about them here.

James Baker
Louis Brown
Sydney Levitus

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

American film star Forest Whitaker's new role: UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

Forest Whitaker with
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova will designate American actor, director and producer Forest Whitaker as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. The nomination ceremony will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 21 June, at 6 p.m.

The designation comes in recognition of Mr Whitaker’s humanitarian and artistic commitment. This is most visible in his projects, such as “Better Angels”, a film about Ugandan child soldiers or “Common Destiny”, a documentary about the common goals of achieving peace and mutual understanding, and the power of education in promoting peace and reconciliation between and within communities.

Forest Whitaker was born in 1961 in Texas, USA. He studied opera in California to become a tenor singer but decided to focus on film acting eventually and moved to study in London. Since his film debut in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in 1982, he has been one of Hollywood’s most accomplished figures. His best known performances include his roles as jazzman Charlie Parker in “Bird”, for which he was awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes for best actor in 1989, and as Ugandan leader Idi Amin in “Last King of Scotland”, for which he received an Academy Award in 2006.

Interview with George Papagiannis

The U.S. Mission to UNESCO sat down with George Papagiannis, the Officer in charge of the UNESCO Office in Baghdad, to find out how he ended up in Iraq, what work he is doing there with UNESCO, and why UNESCO matters. This is one of a series of interviews with Americans working in UNESCO.