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MAY 2005


Fellowship scheme launched for African physicists
26 May -
UNESCO has announced the launch of the Mori Fellowships scheme, which will enable 20 PhD candidates from sub-Saharan Africa to finalize their scientific research at the doctoral level by spending two six-month visits, over a period of two years, at UNESCO's Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. The scheme was announced by the Director-General during the visit of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria to UNESCO to participate in Africa Day celebrations on 25 May. 'We recognize that scientific research is an area of priority need', the Director-General told the President. 'While there is enormous talent in Africa in this area, the lack of scientific networks both on the continent and with other continents is a major handicap.' The fellowship scheme is being launched to help overcome this handicap. Named after former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, the scheme will draw upon a fund established by the Japanese government'. The launch comes during the International Year of Physics, of which UNESCO is lead agency. UNESCO is also spearheading the reform of Nigeria's science system (Read more about the President's visit).

Israeli-Palestinian Science Organization (IPSO)

UNESCO backs Israelo-Palestinian scientific co-operation
24 May - UNESCO is to allocate US$100 000 of Funds-in-Trust to the Israelo-Palestinian Science Organization (IPSO) to enable research projects between Israeli and Palestinian scientists to be implemented without delay. The announcement was made by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura during an information meeting organized at UNESCO Headquarters on 23 May to review IPSO's progress. The President of IPSO's Scientific Committee, Professor Torsten Wiesel, thanked UNESCO for its 'crucial' support from the outset. IPSO was founded in April 2004 and its Scientific Committee met for the first time last November, at UNESCO. 'We have a list of joint projects' said Professor Wiesel. 'These projects are excellent but the money is lacking', he added before appealing to the donors present. Professor Wiesel thanked the Director-General for his generous pledge, which will enable a number of projects to get off the ground.

The meeting was convened shortly after IPSO finished selecting 30 quality research projects involving both Palestinian and Israeli scientists. Mr Matsuura told the assembly, 'IPSO has reached the point where it now needs to turn ideas into action. This is why I invited representatives of UNESCO's Member States which have shown an avid interest in UNESCO's efforts in the Middle East to the present meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for donor countries to get to know IPSO's concrete projects better and to see how they can back them'. Read about UNESCO's ties with IPSO in A World of Science (July 2004 and January 2005).

<font size="1" color="#333333" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Abdus Salam International Centre Professor Gabriel Mindlin awarded ICTP prize
20 May
- Professor Bernardo Gabriel Mindlin of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is this year's recipient of the prize awarded annually by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), a UNESCO centre located in Trieste, Italy. Professor Gabriel Mindlin was awarded the prize by Director-General on 16 May for his important contribution to fundamental, applied and interdisciplinary aspects of non-linear dynamic systems. The ICTP Prize was created in 1982 by the ICTP Scientific Council to recognise outstanding and original contributions of young scientists (no more than 40 years of age) from developing countries to physics and mathematics. The cash prize honours Arthur Taylor Winfree. This event comes as we are approaching the half-way mark in the International Year of Physics, of which UNESCO is one of the co-ordinators within an international steering committee led by the European Physical Society.

People, Ecology, Biodiversity
© Euskadi.net

Experts warn ecosystem changes threaten development
17 May - Overshadowing the International Day for Biological Diversity this year on 22 May are the findings of a landmark study which show that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report, compiled by 1,300 scientists in 95 countries, warns that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. (More)

For further information, visit The MAB Programme website: People, Biodiversity, Ecology or read The New UNESCO Courrier (May 2005)

22 May - International Day for Biological Diversity

Experiencing Mathematics A project office for oceanographic data exchange
12 May -
On 25 April 2005, the project Office for International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) was inaugurated officially on the site of the Flanders Marine Institute in Ostend, Belgium. (More)
A world of Science Countries unite against malaria
29 April
- The theme of the fifth Africa Malaria Day, on 25 April, was Unite Against Malaria. Scientists from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and other African countries have done just that. Conscious of the ease with which malaria can be 'imported', they have been co-operating over the past decade in the fight against malaria. Iranian scientist Nasrin Moazami has come up with a biolarvicide which proves fatal to the malaria-bearing Anopheles mosquito but is innocuous to all other living species, including humans. Tests of the biolarvicide have already proved conclusive against Anopheles arabiensis in Sudan and against Anopheles stephensis in Iran. Now, a controlled trial is about to start in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in collaboration with scientists from these countries and under the auspices of WHO. Meanwhile, the Islamic Development Bank in Tehran has recently expressed interest in buying large quantities of Bioflash, the biolarvicide's trading name, for free distribution to African countries plagued by malaria. Dr Moazami heads the Biotechnology Research Centre in Tehran, a member of the international network of Microbial Resource Centres developed by UNESCO over the past 30 years together with UNEP and UNDP. (More)
Focus on Science
  Engineers without borders
The international network of Engineers Without Borders met at UNESCO on 11-13 May for a Workshop on Engineering and Technology for Poverty Reduction, Emergencies and Sustainable Development. Over thirty groups around the world belong to Engineers without Borders - International, a movement which began in the 1980s and which has grown spectacularly over the past five years (More).

Great Apes travel to World Expo
From 14 August to 3 September, the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) will be on show at the World EXPO in Aichi, Japan. Volunteers at the United Nations pavillion will be on hand to guide visitors through the exhibition. There will also be press conferences by senior staff from UNEP and UNESCO, the co-ordinators of GRASP, and by Japanese personalities. These press conferences are open to the public. Up to 200,000 visitors are expected to visit the GRASP exhibition during its run at the World EXPO. The vast majority of visitors will be Japanese holiday-makers enjoying their summer break but thousands of foreign visitors are also expected. The exhibition and related events will be available in both English and Japanese. Individuals and groups interested in contributing to great ape conservation are invited to contact Naoto Shibui at the GRASP Secretariat . Read about GRASP in the bulletin a World of Science (Vol. 3 n° 1).

Useful links for more information:

Life in Urban Landscape Life in the Urban landscape
A MAB-sponsored Conference on “Life In The Urban Landscape” is being organized from 30 May to 2 June in Gothenburg (Sweden) to stimulate innovative urban professionalism and support creative, responsible leadership in cities. It will also be contributing to the evolution of co-operative and cross-border approaches to urban development work and urban learning. More
  Iberian-American Congress on Sustainable Development around the corner
UNESCO's Regional Bureau for Education in Santiago (Chile) is co-organizing a major meeting on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) from 31 May to 2 June. The meeting is one of the first of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which kicked off in January and of which UNESCO is the lead UN agency. The other organizers are UNEP and the Brazilian Council of Business for Sustainable Development, an NGO that belongs to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. For details, contact UNESCO's Brasilia office.
Experiencing Mathematics
©UNESCO/A. Jonquières
Contribute to an international conference on coal fire research
There is a call for contributions to an international conference on coal fire research, to be held in Beijing (China) from 29 November to 1 December 2005. The deadline for submitting an abstract and preliminary registration is 31 May. The conference is being organized by the Ecological Research for Sustaining the Environment in China (ERSEC) project, a joint effort between the Chinese Ministry of Education, the German Ministry of Education and Research and the UNESCO Office in Beijing to promote the practical use of ecological research results in China by creating a dialogue between scientists and policy-makers. There is no registration fee and limited financial support for selected participants from developing countries is available. (More)
Experiencing Mathematics Experiencing mathematics
Experiencing Mathematics, the UNESCO-driven travelling exhibition which began touring the world last year, has been duplicated to satisfy a flood of requests from countries to host the exhibition. One 'copy' of the interactive exhibition, which targets children aged 10-18 but also their parents and teachers, is showing at Haidan Science and Technology Hall in Beijing (China) from 26 April to 26 June. The exhibition will then be touring a number of African countries.
  Proceedings of "open access" forum now online
The proceedings are now online of a meeting which expressed concern in April 2003 at the growing tendency of governments to treat public-funded research as a commodity. The participants were particularly preoccupied by the implications for scientists in developing countries of growing restrictions on access to digital data and information. They asked themselves, 'How do we preserve and promote access to open science without unduly restricting commercial opportunities and the moral rights of authors? Many of the meeting's conclusions fed into the first round of the World Summit on the Information Society eight months later. The meeting on open access and the public domain was co-organized at UNESCO Headquarters by UNESCO, ICSU and its Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), the US National Academy of Sciences and the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI). For an account of discussions, read 'What future for open science? published in A World of Science in July 2003. The PDF version of the Proceedings may be downloaded free of charge courtesy of The National Academies Press, in keeping with the spirit of open access.
A world of Science A World of Science in April
With the Indian Ocean still reeling from the massive earthquake and tsunami which devastated its coasts last December, killing up to 270 000 people in a single day, A World of Science looks at plans to ensure that we see the next tsunami coming, wherever in the world it strikes. UNESCO is co-ordinating efforts to put in place a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean by 2007, within a global programme for all types of natural hazards launched by the United Nations in January.

In this issue, we interview four young scientists from different corners of the world, who explain why their governments should be interested in what they have to say on science policy matters.

In Horizons, we discover a new deadly weapon against malaria, that "silent tsunami … which takes every month the number of people who died in the Asian tragedy" last December. An Iranian biotechnologist has come up with a biolarvicide which proves fatal to the malaria-bearing Anopheles mosquito but is innocuous to all other living species, including humans. The Biotechnology Research Centre in Tehran belongs to the international network of Microbial Resource Centres developed by UNESCO over the past 30 years together with UNEP and UNDP.

Horizons also visits the 'sea gypsies' of the Andaman Sea, a group of semi-nomads who have roamed the waters straddling southern Thailand and Myanmar for centuries and whose knowledge of the sea saved them from last December's tsunami.

2005 World exposition, Aichi, Japan Aichi 2005: The United Nations celebrates Nature's wisdom
The United Nations pavilion at the 2005 World Exposition Aichi, Japan is a celebration of natural and cultural diversity of our planet, and includes contributions from more than 30 organizations inside the UN system. (http://www-2.expo2005.or.jp/en/index.html)
Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in the Indian Ocean Tsunami forecasting and prevention to be debated
"Tsunamis: Forecasting and Prevention" is the theme of the next session of the 21st Century Talks organized by UNESCO. The session will take place on 10 May from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at UNESCO Headquarters (Room XII) in Paris. Three well-known geophysicists will take part: Claude Allègre, a member of France's Academy of Sciences and former Minister of Education; Emile A. Okal, one of the world's pre-eminent experts on tsunamis, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at Northwestern University (USA) and a member of the American Geophysical Union and the Seismological Society of America; and Patricio Bernal, Executive Secretary of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). Patricio Bernal will be the main speaker for this latest edition of the 21st Century Talks.

The IOC is co-ordinating the implementation of the worldwide tsunami early warning system, starting with the Indian Ocean.



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