16.06.2012 - ODG

The Director-General pays tribute to the memory of Elinor Ostrom

It was with great sadness that UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has learned of the loss of Professor Elinor Ostrom, a friend of UNESCO and the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

"Elinor Ostrom revolutionised ways of thinking about collective action and common property. Her work showed that the interaction of trust and reciprocity can solve complex problems, such as water management or fishing areas. At a time when the world is meeting in Rio to think about new solutions for sustainable development, her loss sends a poignant appeal to ponder her message," said the Director-General.

An essential aspect of her work goes to the heart of UNESCO's mission and concerns her commitment to the protection of diversity. As Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University, she showed that local groups living in different environments and different cultural contexts have developed a variety of ways to manage resources sustainably, building on indigenous knowledge.

"Elinor Ostrom had the creativity of a gardener, planting her seeds all over the world, stimulating the intellectual curiosity of generations of students, both women and men. Her career is an encouragement for all women who want to pursue careers in science. An outstanding pedagogue, she came to UNESCO in 2011 for a conference where she showed great intellectual vigour at nearly 80 years old and sharp eye on the world. She said, "We must learn how to dissect and harness complexity, rather than eliminate it." UNESCO has heard, loud and clear, her call for a new social contract in the name of global sustainability. She will be greatly missed and I send in my name and on behalf of UNESCO, my condolences to her family and to the American people".




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