05.11.2009 -

Three UNESCO scientific prizes awarded during World Science Forum

Three scientific prizes were awarded by Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, during the opening of the World Science Forum, taking place in Budapest (Hungary) from 5 to 7 November.

The Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science , established in 1951, rewards annually a person who has helped interpret science, research and technology for the general public. This year the prize is given jointly to Professor Yash Pal (India) and Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan (Vietnam).

Professor Yash Pal has helped develop the concept of a number of television shows that popularize science, such as the “Science is Everywhere” series for rural children in India, and participated in the renowned scientific television magazine “Turning Point”. He also contributed to the development of several institutions in his country, including the University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune and the Centre for Educational Communication in Ahmedabad.

Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan is an astrophysicist internationally recognized for his research in extragalactic astronomy (concerning objects beyond the Milky Way). In 2004, he discovered the youngest known galaxy in the universe. Author of over 200 articles on the formation and evolution of galaxies, Prof. Thuan has published numerous books for non-scientific readers. Among his best known are “Birth of the Universe - The Big Bang and After”, an illustrated history of the Big Bang; and “The Quantum and the Lotus”, a dialogue with the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard.

The Great Man-Made River International Water Prize for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones is given every two years to an individual, group or institution that has made a significant contribution to the management or development of water resources in arid and semi-arid regions.

The laureate is Dr Bellachheb Chahbani , whose research over the last 25 years at the Institute of Arid Regions in Medenine (Tunisia) has helped improve water management and optimize irrigation systems by reducing evaporation and run-off. Scientists and local farmers helped elaborate the technique, which is already in use in central and southern Tunisia as well as in Algeria. In these areas, operating costs have been reduced and crops saved that would otherwise have been killed by drought.

The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation is attributed every two years on the recommendation of the Bureau of the International Coordinating Council of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

The 2009 prize has been awarded to the Autonomous Authority for National Parks (OAPN) , under the Spanish Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Areas, Spain. The OAPN is recognized for its role in coordinating the Spanish national parks network and developing the MAB programme in Spain. It also runs an outstanding international cooperation programme, aimed at exchanging experiences on the management of protected areas.

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