16.05.2016 - Natural Sciences Sector

UNESCO’s science centres comme together in China

© IKCEST Participants of the First meeting of UNESCO's Natural Science Centres, Beijing

The first global meeting of UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Centres opened today in Beijing, China, to discuss how they can best contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and strengthen cooperation. UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector counts with a network of 65 associated centres in the fields of water, renewable energy, science policy, biotechnology, geosciences, the basic sciences and remote sensing. Forty four of the centres were represented for this first meeting, together with four UNESCO affiliates: the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) and the World Academy of Sciences for the Developing world (TWAS).

We are grateful for the generous cooperation of the science and engineering community in China for taking this initiative because it is most timely for us to have this opportunity to discuss our common future together in particular in relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” said Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director-General for the natural Sciences, as she opened the meeting, together with Prof. Zhou Ji, President of Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), Prof. Tan Tieniu, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Mr. Zhou Jiagui, Deputy Secretary General of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO.

Today we will speak to you about the link between science, technology and innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals, which are more than a continuation of the Millennium Development Goals, as they are aimed to be inspirational for all countries of the world to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” she continued. “Then you will reflect on how we can collectively through synergy, knowledge sharing and networking increase our contributions to the 2030 Agenda so that we can best help all countries achieve sustainable development.

Category 2 institutes and centres provide a valuable and unique contribution to the implementation of UNESCO’s programme through capacity building; knowledge sharing; theoretical and experimental research; and advanced training. These institutes are under the auspices of UNESCO but are not legally part of the Organization; they are associated with it through formal arrangements approved by the General Conference.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Zhou Jiagui stressed the need for synergies and increasing cooperation between centres, which can play an essential role in reaching UNESCO’s objectives, as well as Sustainable Development Goals.  

Science and Technology have been propelling human society forward with irreversible and irresistible force. Every major advance in human civilization is closely related to revolutionary breakthrough in S&T” stated Prof. Zhou Ji (CAE). Recalling the creation of the International Knowledge Centre for Engineering Sciences and Technology (IKCEST) as a UNESCO Category 2 Centre in 2014, he declared that science and Technology have become the greatest power for various countries in the world to improve the overall national strength, seek development opportunities and map out the future of humanity.

Prof Tan Tieniu explained that for the past 25 years, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has given great importance to cooperation with UNESCO, especially in the fields of basic sciences and science policy, and called on the representatives of UNESCO’s centres to work together to support common goals in scientific research, capacity building and development.

Over the next three days, the centres will identify ways to improve information sharing and efficiency, and increase their ability to conduct joint projects. They will also focus on maximizing their efforts to assist Member States in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Together, they will develop an action plan.

The meeting is hosted by the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and co-organized by two UNESCO Category 2 Centres, namely the International Knowledge Centre for Engineering Sciences and Technology (IKCEST) and the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST), with the support of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of China to UNESCO.

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