27.06.2012 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

“The future we want” must be an ethical one

© Flickr / Oxfam International

One week after the closure of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the extraordinary session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) will offer an opportunity for experts, governments and scientific communities to reflect, from the ethical point of view, about the role of science and technology in the different areas of sustainable development. In fact, to be inclusive, equitable and sustainable, “the future we wish” must be an ethical one. COMEST will meet on 2 and 3 July at UNESCO’s Headquarters, and on 4 July at the French Academy of Sciences in Paris.

As it has been underlined in the conclusions of Rio+20, the rapid development of science and technology has brought unprecedented prosperity, but also challenges to societies, sometimes resulting in serious threats. According to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right… to participate and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”. How to make sure that this right is implemented in the concrete organization of science and technology? The ethical approach which includes the reflection concerning the relationship between the abstract principles and concrete institutional mechanisms, aims to find a reply to this question. This is the raison d’être of COMEST which comprises eighteen individual members from various regions of the world, along with eleven ex officio members representing UNESCO's intergovernmental science programmes, as well as different international scientific bodies. UNESCO’s Member States assist as observers the work of COMEST.

The Commission will work on four major topics that all push forward the linkages between science, technologies and sustainable development: 1) Ethics and Climate Change; 2) Science Ethics; 3) Development Ethics; and 4) Ethics of Nanotechnologies and Converging Technologies. The session of 2 July, devoted to internal COMEST affairs, is private. The session of 3 and 4 July are open to the public, on prior inscription. The agenda foresees time for discussions that enable COMEST to exchange with the specialists interested in its work. COMEST, in fact, is an open body which aims at facilitating a wide debate about its orientations and conclusions.

Agenda [PDF]

The extraordinary session of COMEST was made possible by the generous financial support of the Foundation Bettencourt Schueller.

2-3 July 2012 (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
1 rue Miollis
75015 Paris (Metro: Ségur)
Room XIV

4 July 2012 (9.30 a.m. – 8 p.m.)
Institut de France
23 Quai de Conti
75006 Paris (Metro: Mabillon)
Room XIV

Media Contact
John Crowley, +33 (0)1 45 68 38 28, j.crowley(at)unesco.org

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