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S. Schneegans, Editor
p 2 - What future for open science?
p 8 - Abdul Waheed Khan on why we need to move towards
p 9 - Deal clinched for UNESCOIHE Institute for
p 10 -UNESCO creating facility to mediate water disputes
p 11 - UNESCO and WHO to join forces in combating emerging
p 12 - Five outstanding women earn their just rewards
p 13 - Bringing a little sunshine to peoples lives
p 16 - Afghanistan on the (rocky) road
p 19 - Governing bodies
p 20 - Diary
p 20 - New releases
you, Mr Berners-Lee'
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) had barely become
public knowledge this year before scientists the world over
were scrambling to identify the new ill. And it was thanks
largely to the information and data exchanged via Internet
that they were able to isolate the agent causing SARS in record
time. The SARS outbreak has highlighted the key role Internet
can play in a global health emergency. But ‘virtual’ scientific
collaboration is nothing new. Ever since the World Wide Web
was invented ten years ago, international scientific collaboration
has grown tremendously.
In a shrinking world where air travel and the Web have made
real and virtual nomads of us, major environmental and health
problems have also become globe-trotters. Ensuring affordable
high-speed Internet connections and equally affordable access
to electronic scientific information and data for all the
world's universities and research institutions has become
indispensable for informed decision-making and knowledge production.
The information society is here; what we need now are knowledge
will take political will, of course. The digital divide is
alive and well. If Internet users are expected to double to
close to 1 billion by 2005, according to the UNDP Human Development
Report 2002, it is hard to see how the imbalance in favour
of developed countries is going to be redressed in the foreseeable
future without strong political motivation. Some 72% of Internet
users still live in the high-income OECD countries which make
up only 14% of the world's population. The World Summit on
the Information Society being organized by ITU in co-operation
with UNESCO and other UN agencies in December this year, with
a second round in 2005, will need to tackle head-on the problem
of inequitable access to telecommunications and the handicap
this poses for global development.
Intergovernmental Drafting Group is meeting at UNESCO Headquarters
on 15–18 July to refine the working documents for the Draft
Declaration of Principles and Draft Action Plan before the
final preparatory meeting for the Summit in September. At
this late stage, the documents are almost totally bereft of
any reference to science, despite the fact that science is
a prolific producer and user of information and knowledge.
A symposium organized by UNESCO and several science partners
in March this year expressed concern at the growing restrictions
in the digital environment on open access to publicly funded
research. These concerns are discussed in the current issue.
Now, as we prepare for the World Summit on the Information
Society, we might spare a thought for Tim Berners-Lee, the
scientist who gave us the World Wide Web.
Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences