UNESCO Beijing Office pursues its science programme activities to foster the advancement, transfer and sharing of scientific knowledge and to gain a better understanding of the complex relationship between human activities and the environment.  The application of scientific knowledge is essential as we work to create a healthier social and natural environment and to promote sustainable development.

Priority is given to developing human and institutional resources through training, information dissemination, joint research, networking and technology transfer.  An area of particular emphasis is the training of young scientists.  From improving lives through the latest engineering advances to protecting people from the floods of the Yangtze River, science holds potential solutions to many pressing problems.

Mme Wei Yu, Chairperson of Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, with Director-General Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura

The UNESCO Beijing Office conducts projects in a wide variety of areas and scientific disciplines: i) environmental sciences and sustainable development (ecology, water and earth sciences, as well as oceanography and Agenda 21 follow-up); ii) life sciences and engineering sciences, including renewable energies; and iii) social and human sciences.
A large number of the environmental sciences’ programme activities are carried out under the framework of UNESCO’s intergovernmental science programmes, including the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the programme on the Management of Social Transformations (MOST).  Several of the MAB and IHP activities are related to the implementation of the UN Conventions on Biodiversity and Combating Desertification.

Another priority is the support of life science activities in the sub-region.  A large number of international, regional and national workshops and training courses on biotechnology and microbiology have been carried out, primarily through the Qingdao-based Biotechnology Education and Training Centre (BETCEN) and the Microbiological Resources Centers (MIRCEN) in Beijing and Hong Kong.  The engineering sciences programme activities contribute to the promotion of clean coal technologies, wind and solar energy, continuing engineering education, environmental management and agricultural engineering in China.

Two important project initiatives are in support of the UNESCO activities described above: the ongoing UNDP-funded project on the strengthened role of enterprise managers in environmental protection, and a second project, to be started in January 2001 with the financial contribution of the German Ministry of Education and Research, focussing on ecological research for sustaining the environment in China.

Several publications, both monographs and journals, are financially supported by UNESCO. These include The International Journal of Sediment Research and the Chinese versions of the IHP Waterway Journal, China’s Biosphere Reserves and the International Social Sciences Journal.

Environmental Sciences
General information on UNESCO’s environmental science programmes is available at:

Ecological Sciences and the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme
Over the past two decades, the activities of the China-MAB Programme have significantly contributed to biodiversity conservation, public environmental education, eco-tourism development and sustainable management in China. Nineteen sites in China are internationally recognised and listed in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Network. The China Biosphere Reserve Network (CBRN) includes a total of 83 nature reserves and botany gardens, including the 19 sites listed in the World Biosphere Reserve Network. The issue of balancing environment and development is especially acute in China, a country with both very rich biodiversity and strong pressures on the environment. In accordance with the Seville Strategy’s vision, MAB projects in China reconcile ecological integrity with local socio-economic progress.

Human resources development and information exchange among biosphere reserve staff are key components of a successful MAB.  The MAB Programme attaches great importance to the role of networking, particularly through conferences and workshops:

In April 2000, China-MAB, in cooperation with UNESCO Beijing and Jakarta Offices and the Canada International Development Agency (CIDA), successfully finalised a project on sustainable management for China’s nature reserves.  The project report provides recommendations on efficient management policy and implementation in nature reserves.  In April and May 2000, China-MAB organised two events to discuss this study with government representatives, reserve managers, scientists and financial donors.

With support from UNESCO, China-MAB is compiling information and materials about the Qiangtang nature reserve in Tibet.  This reserve may eventually apply for inclusion in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Eco-tourism is quickly emerging as a new form of tourism, and China-MAB is devoting increasing attention to this issue.  Eco-tourism not only offers an opportunity to promote environmental education, but also provides a new source of revenue for biosphere reserve managers.  These new funds, at least partly, can and should be used for biodiversity conservation.  In April 2000, China-MAB published two books in Chinese, Guidelines for Public Use Measurement and Reporting at Parks and Protected Areas and Green Practices in Eco-tourism.  During the summer of 2000, China-MAB fielded an expert mission to Inner Mongolia to carry out a survey on the present situation of eco-tourism development in nature reserves.  The mission report presented several recommendations for future eco-tourism development in the region.

To increase public understanding of the role of biodiversity, the production of photos taken in seven of the 19 UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserves in China was undertaken in the summer and autumn of 1999.  In 2000, China-MAB initiated cooperation with a famous nature photographer who will allow his photos of cranes to be used by the programme for public education purposes.

Since 1994, China-MAB has published the quarterly journal Man and the Biosphere (formerly published as China’s Biosphere Reserves).  The journal has expanded its target audience from reserve managers, scientists and conservationists to the general public.  It is hoped that this publication, as the only periodical of its kind in the country, will further disseminate knowledge on China’s biosphere reserves.  The biannual China-MAB Newsletter, published in English, has complemented the above publication since 1997.  This newsletter introduces activities in China and provides updates on ongoing projects.

UNESCO-MAB, both UNESCO Jakarta and Beijing Offices, plays an active role in bringing together scientists and policy-makers throughout the East Asian sub-region.  The East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network (EABRN) is composed of China, Mongolia, DPR Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.  In September 1999, the sixth meeting of the EABRN was held in China’s Jiuzhaigou Biosphere Reserve, with representatives from UNESCO, all EABRN member countries, and observers from Thailand and the United States attending.  The next meeting will take place in September 2001 in Vladivostok in the Russian Federation.  UNESCO-MAB and EABRN are working together to expand the scope of activities, and the initiation of a sub-regional training programme for biosphere reserve managers from the EABRN countries is currently being considered.

In January 2001, UNESCO-MAB, in cooperation with UNESCO Headquarters and UNESCO Jakarta, Beijing and Apia Offices, will implement a new project on “Asia-Pacific Cooperation for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Resources in Biosphere Reserves and Similarly Managed Areas.”  The project, funded by the Japanese government, will emphasise the conservation of resources in coastal areas, small islands and mangroves.

As a follow-up to the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the UNESCO Beijing Office provided technical support to the meeting on the Asian Thematic Programme Network on Desertification Monitoring and Assessment in Tokyo in June 2000.  The Beijing Office also intends to provide technical assistance to the Forum on Partnership Building and Resource Mobilisation to Combat Desertification in China--Particularly in the Western Region being planned for early 2001.

Water Sciences and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP)
With support from UNESCO, the Chinese Academy of Sciences published China Water Vision. The 178-page report addresses water security scenarios and water eco-development strategies in China. These were presented at the Second World Water Forum in the Hague, the Netherlands, in March 2000.

The Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences continued to compile information on water management and disaster reduction in the Yangtze River Valley, particularly the river’s lower and middle reaches.
The UNESCO-affiliated International Training and Research Center on Hydrology, Water Resources and Water Environment, founded in 1998 at Hohai University in Nanjing, China, continues to successfully conduct postgraduate courses in hydrology, water resources and water environment.  Students come from many different countries, especially within the Asian region.
To further promote south-south cooperation in the field of  water sciences, UNESCO Beijing Office provided sponsorship for a renowned Chinese scientist, Mrs. Xiao Lin, to participate in the International Conference on Wadi Hydrology in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2000.

International Research and Training Centre on Erosion and Sedimentation (IRTCES), Beijing
The UNESCO-affiliated IRTCES has carried out a series of research projects, national and international training courses, symposia and workshops:

Since 1986, the IRTCES has published the quarterly International Journal of Sediment Research.  The journal focusses on the progress in the mechanics of sediment transport and fluvial processes, with an additional emphasis on the geographical, ecological, social and economic impacts of sedimentation (including erosion) and its assessment.

Further information on the IRTCES can be found at:

Chinese National Committee for the IHP
China-IHP plays an active role in the network for IHP in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.  Among its recent major activities was the organisation of an International Symposium on Floods and Droughts, held in Nanjing, China in October 1999.

With UNESCO support, China-IHP publishes the quarterly Chinese edition of the IHP Waterway Journal.  This publication is in response to growing international interest and to the desire of those in China’s water management field to establish an ongoing dialogue with their counterparts in other nations. IHP Waterway covers activities and research development in water management worldwide and is distributed to hydrological management, research and educational agencies in China.  This publication will be available via the Internet in the future.

Further information on the Chinese National Committee for the IHP can be found at:

Earth Sciences and the International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP)
A five-week regional training course on “Seismology, Seismic Hazard Assessment and Risk Mitigation”, organised jointly by the China Seismological Bureau and the Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam in Germany, was held in Beijing in September and October 1999.  In November 1999, a training course on “Risk Analysis for Earthquake-prone Areas in China” took place.  The Division of Earthquake Monitoring and Prediction of the China Seismological Bureau has assisted in the preparation of lecture notes on seismic risk assessment and other programmatic activities.

UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
A large number of activities have been implemented over the past few years in China, in close collaboration with the China State Oceanic Administration and the IOC Secretariat in Paris.

Life Sciences
Plant biotechnology has particular relevance in China, D.P.R Korea and Mongolia. Biotechnological developments can make safe disease and pest control more affordable and also can improve the stress tolerance, shelf life and nutrition content of plants.

In September 1999, an International Training Course in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology was held at the National Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  The course enabled participants from nine countries to discuss recent advances in plant molecular biology and biotechnology, to conduct laboratory practice, and to promote increased cooperation between developing and developed countries. Eighteen lecturers and 26 students participated in the course.

China recognises the importance of the International Human Genome Project and the potential ethical problems in the field of life sciences.  Therefore, China has been an active participant in the Sixth Session of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO (IBC), “Working Group Meeting on North-South Co-operation in the Field of Life Sciences”.  Dr. Yang Huangming, Director of the Human Genome Center at the Genetics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, IBC member and contributor to the drafting of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, played an important role in drafting the statement on Free Availability of Human Genome Data, signed by UNESCO Director-General Mr. Matsuura in April 2000.

Microbiological Resources Centers (MIRCEN), Beijing and Hong Kong
In November 1999, MIRCEN Beijing organised a Training Workshop on Resource Evaluation and Modern Taxonomic Methodology of Cryptogams for young scientists.  The workshop topics included i) evaluation of the biotechnological/ecosystemic use of cryptogamic resources; ii) molecular biological methods and techniques; iii) modern taxonomy of living organisms; iv) nomenclature of cryptogams; and v) the speeded-up programme for Latin.

In November 1999, MIRCEN Beijing, in collaboration with China Agricultural University, sponsored a training workshop on the Characterisation and Control of Phytopathogenic Bacteria.  The course focussed on: i) identification and taxonomy of plant pathogenic bacteria; ii) advances in the study of rice blight and potato bacterial wilt; iii) pathogenesis of crown gall bacteria; and iv) biological control of crown gall diseases.

In July 2000, Professor Song Da-Kang, Director of MIRCEN Beijing, participated in the Ninth International Congress for Culture Collections and in the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) Executive Board meeting in Brisbane, Australia.  He also served as the life sciences expert in the UNESCO Science Mission to D.P.R. Korea.

Under the framework of the Short-term UNESCO Fellowships Programme, as approved by the Biotechnology Fellowships Committee, MIRCEN Hong Kong is carrying out a six-week training course in bioconversion technologies for a young female postgraduate scientist from Brazil. The research training began in November 2000.

Biotechnology Training and Education Centre (BETCEN), Qingdao
The BETCEN, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology, will conduct an international symposium on marine biotechnology in December 2000. The theme of this year’s symposium is “Developing Marine Biotechnology, Accelerating Marine Technology Innovation and Industrialisation”.

From January until March 2001, two D.P.R. Korean scientists and one Chinese scientist will receive training in the field of marine biotechnology, under the framework of the Chinese BETCEN/BAC/UNESCO Short-term Fellowships Programme.

Engineering Sciences
Clean Coal Technology: UNESCO Chair at China Coal Research Institute
Coal currently accounts for 75 percent of China’s energy consumption.  The extensive use of coal has brought about serious air pollution, particularly in urban areas.  The development of coal quality and clean coal technologies will mitigate some of the detrimental effects of coal use.  UNESCO has contributed to the establishment of a Regional Forum for Clean Coal Technology in the Clean Coal Engineering and Research Centre in Beijing as well as to the establishment of an UNESCO Chair on Clean Coal Technology. In addition, the book Clean Coal Technology in China was published on the occasion of the November 1999 Regional Forum of Clean Coal Technology, held in Beijing.

Continuing Engineering Education: UNESCO Chair at Tsinghua University
The regular training and retraining of practising engineers has become increasingly important in light of today’s rapid technological advancements.  The UNESCO Chair on Continuing Engineering Education at Beijing’s Tsinghua University is an important initiative in UNESCO’s work to promote continuing and distance education in engineering.

University-Industry-Science and Technology Partnership (UNISPAR) programme
UNESCO seeks to promote partnerships in industry, science and technology through the creation of UNISPAR UNESCO Chairs, often sponsored by industry leaders, and the establishment of UNISPAR national, regional, and global networks.

UNESCO, under the sponsorship of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has established a UNISPAR UNESCO Chair in Engineering of Thermal Power Generation/Power Plants and Environmental Protection at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an. The goal of this chair is to support an integrated system of research, training and information in the field of engineering education and to enhance the national capacity for thermal power generation and environmental protection. UNESCO, with the support of Toyota Company, is also working to create a UNISPAR UNESCO Chair on Environmental Management at Nankai University in Tianjin.

The Chinese UNISPAR Working Group was created in 1997 with the purpose of strengthening partnerships between the academic and industrial worlds.  The Working Group is composed of 24 participants from universities, enterprises and scientific institutes, with its secretariat attached to the Northwestern Polytechnical University.  In 1999 and 2000, the Working Group has continued to expand its number of participating institutions and its scope of activities.  The major activity in 2000 was the International Symposium on Project Management in the 21st Century--Knowledge Economy and the Development of Western China, held in Xi’an in October 2000.

Renewable Energies
A feasibility study on the utilisation of solar energy systems in remote areas of Mongolia is currently being prepared in collaboration with the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.  The UNESCO Beijing Office supports partnership agreements with private sector companies to encourage the efficient use of wind and solar energy through the creation of a UNESCO Chair in renewable energies.

Agricultural Engineering
The International Conference on Agricultural Engineering (99-ICAE) took place in December 1999 at the China Agricultural University.  The conference focussed on power and machinery; agricultural mechanisation; soil and water engineering; farm electronics and precision agriculture; waste treatment engineering; post-harvest technology and food engineering; biomass engineering and rural energy; aquacultural technology; and agricultural engineering education.

The UNESCO Beijing Office also provided support to two important initiatives that took place in November 2000: the Seventh China Yangling Agricultural High-Tech Fair in Yangling, Shaanxi province, and the International Conference on Non-Pollution Agricultural Ecological Systems and Sustainable Agricultural Development, in Beihai, Guangxi province, hosted by the Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering.

Social and Human Sciences
The longstanding cooperation between the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and UNESCO Beijing Office continues to develop.  This past year, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences translated and published the Chinese version of UNESCO’s quarterly  International Social Sciences Journal (ISSJ).  The ISSJ, published in six languages, aims to bridge diverse communities of social scientists by encouraging debate and ensuring that information is widely available.  The Chinese version of the journal already has a readership of at least 3,000.  The 1999 and 2000 Chinese versions have concentrated on the following themes:
1) Governance
2)  Social transformations: multicultural and    multiethnic societies
3)  Fifty years of the ISSJ: A selection of articles
4)  Human rights: 50th anniversary of the Universal   Declaration
5)  Social and cultural aspects of regional integration
6)  Globalisation
7)  Health policies and social values
8)  Policy options for social development.

Special Initiatives
Under an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UNESCO Beijing Office is engaged in a project on the “Strengthened Role of Enterprise Managers in Environmental Protection through Clean Manufacturing”. The everyday business decisions of enterprise managers have a large impact on the country’s environment situation.  Through structured interviews, this project analyses the perceptions of enterprise managers regarding issues such as clean manufacturing and environmental protection.  These results will be used to design a Training Programme on Clean Manufacturing/Clean Production for enterprise managers in business schools.  This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Business School of the China University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui province, business schools from Chongqing and Shanghai, and the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The UNESCO Beijing Office and the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) are committed to furthering joint programmes.  A three-year project on “Ecological Research for Sustaining the Environment in China” is to be initiated in January 2001, in close cooperation with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The BMBF-funded project will consist of several workshops and conferences on environmental laws/regulations and policies, land use planning, forestry resources management, biodiversity conservation and agricultural development.  Principal partner institutions in China include the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Zhejiang Academy of Forestry, China Agricultural University and Yangling University.  The Universities of Stuttgart, Hohenheim, Dresden and Munich are the main programme participants from Germany.
  BMBF project on Land Use Planning in Nanjing

UNESCO Jakarta Office, in cooperation with UNESCO Beijing Office, fielded a science mission of five external experts and two UNESCO officials to D.P.R. Korea from 18-22 July 2000. The mission sought to establish a joint UNESCO/D.P.R. Korean Academy of Sciences work programme in the fields of life science and genetic engineering, information technology and informatics, mathematics and physics, environmental protection, renewable energies and water sciences. It is our hope that this mission signifies an important milestone in enhanced science cooperation between D.P.R. Korea and UNESCO in the coming years.

As a follow-up to the 1999 World Conference on Science (WCS), the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO has published and distributed the Chinese version of the UNESCO/ICSU booklet entitled Science for the Twenty-First Century--A New Commitment.  This publication contains the principal documents of the WCS, including the Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge and Science Agenda--Framework for Action.

Further information on the WCS is available at:

Special Activities