World Science Day 2005
Message from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
Every year, World Science Day for Peace and Development provides an opportunity for special attention to be paid to the contribution of science to achieving sustainable development and enhancing the prospects for peace. From agricultural production to medicine, from sustainable energy to water management, scientific and technological advances play a key role in social and economic development through a diverse range of applications.
Clearly, the importance of science does not rest solely upon the value of research and knowledge in their own terms but also derives from their relevance to the needs of society and their effectiveness in addressing those needs and in meeting the macroeconomic objectives of government. This is a challenge at national and international levels.
While the basic aims of science have not altered, social needs have changed considerably. Nowadays, science has to address complex challenges that are global in scale and character. It must deal with enormous and difficult problems that can only be met by joint efforts. In its essence, science is a collective enterprise, one whose advances generally owe more to the dedicated and painstaking efforts of teams than to breakthroughs generated by outstanding individuals. Cooperation is at the heart of scientific endeavour.
This year on World Science Day for Peace and Development, I would like to focus on the crucial importance of South-South cooperation in science and technology. Such cooperation is perhaps more important now than ever before and therefore deserves further support and encouragement. South-South cooperation holds out the promise and possibility of creating a critical mass of highly qualified and innovative scientists and technologists in the South who are trained to address issues of critical importance to the people living there. Through research and training exchanges, institutional linkages and networking, South-South cooperation can help to develop a professional culture of scientific excellence among scientists who remain at home where their contributions are most needed.
Moreover, South-South cooperation in science and technology provides valuable opportunities to promote development and peace. The development experiences of the South are rich and diverse. Whether through commonalities in history and geography or through similar development challenges, the countries of the South have important lessons to share concerning the difficulties they have faced and the success they have achieved. Scientific dialogue and collaboration, moreover, are vital mechanisms for building reciprocal interests and mutual understanding between peoples. UNESCO has long seen the value of promoting the cause of peace through international cooperation in science and South-South cooperation has been and continues to be an important aspect of this work.
Today, UNESCO’s promotion and use of modalities of South-South cooperation figure within the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme, for example. Moreover, reliance upon South-South as well as North-South cooperation is built into the very conception of UNESCO’s International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP), which is focused on capacity-building in science and on the transfer and sharing of scientific information and excellence.
On World Science Day for Peace and Development 2005, UNESCO calls upon all those involved in the scientific enterprise to re-affirm their commitment to building a peaceful, prosperous and equitable world through science and to express this commitment through international cooperation and collaborative action. Through South-South cooperation in particular, let scientists develop relations of solidarity and mutual support that generate practical benefits and also serve as models for others to follow.