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Message from the Director-General of UNESCO

on the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development

- 10 November 2003 -

 

Mr Matsuura: Director-General of UNESCO

 

The greatest challenge of our time is to create a world where all citizens live in dignity and peace in a hospitable environment that they have learnt to care for. Achieving this will require political will, public support and science. In celebrating World Science Day for Peace and Development 2003, we place particular focus on the role of science, calling attention to the positive attributes and beneficial consequences of scientific research and knowledge.

However, while we continue to marvel at new scientific discoveries and enjoy the benefits of innovative technological developments grounded upon scientific advances, there is a growing unease about science and mounting concern about its adverse consequences. In some quarters, these misgivings have turned into distrust and opposition, reactions which are worrying because they may erode the foundations of public support for science. That support, which is inseparable from public confidence in science and scientists, can no longer be taken for

. Today, therefore, the case for science needs to be re-made, in terms that are convincing to a general public less and less deferential towards the pure intentions of scientists or their greater wisdom. Nor can the case for science rest on past achievements or on promises of future benefits taken on trust. Science will increasingly need to justify itself a new in the knowledge that its evidence and arguments may be subjected to critical scrutiny by a more skeptical public.

Scientists should welcome these developments, especially when they are associated with the proper functioning of democratic processes.At the same time, scientists should work hard at educating policy-makers, opinion-shapers and the general public about science - its purposes, its principles, its methods, its critical and questioning spirit, and its many accomplishments. In this perspective, science education should addressnot only education in science but also education for and about science,taking the more troubling and contentious issues confronting us intoactive consideration.

Scientists must become better communicators but this is not just about sending out clear, accurate and relevant messages about science. It is also about listening to the interaction between science and society aswell as recognizing the failures and dangers of scientific activities - the days of an automatic equation of "scientific development" with "human progress" are long past. Consequently, the education and training ofscientists, which should be considered lifelong in character, must include the ethical, social and political dimensions of scientific activity.

While science is recognized as contributing to some of the problems and looming crises facing our world, this does not mean that viable solutions can leave science out of account. The design of realistic solutions must be undertaken with science, not against it. We need the contribution of science, for example, to analyse the extent to whichhuman activities are responsible for climate change, environmental degradation and other worrying phenomena. And it is scientists and engineers who will help us to prepare for tomorrow's complex problems.

Science must be mobilized globally to address the enormous problems related to public health, agricultural productivity, environmental degradation and poverty. This will require addressing thevery real disparities between the developed and developing countries when it comes to producing scientific knowledge and using this knowledge for social and economic benefit. Closing this knowledge gap will require, inter alia, finding solutions to the unceasing exodus ofscientific brainpower to the rich countries of the North.

Closing the scientific knowledge gap also requires North-South andSouth-South partnerships between scientists, institutions and governments. Science is a shared enterprise. The pace of scientific progress and the interrelations between global problems require teamwork and networking. Consequently, national and international partnership and collaboration between scientific institutions, academia, NGOs and other sectors and disciplines are essential.

World Science Day for Peace and Development is an occasion for UNESCO to reaffirm the vision of scientific research as promoting theeconomic, social and cultural development of nations and peoples and fostering the prospects for peace and a sustainable future. Let us all commit ourselves to working together for greater solidarity in the sharing of scientific knowledge. Without global science, there can be no sustainable development; without sustainable development, there can be no global peace.

 

Koïchiro Matsuura

 

Autres langues:  Fre    Spa    Rus    Ara    Chi  

SPECIAL EVENTS

Alcyone to the Red Sea
To mark this year's World Science Day for Peace and Development, the Cousteau Society has sent its ship Alcyone to the Red Sea to begin its expedition with a Dive for Peace. With this symbolic Dive, the Cousteau Society will express once more its commitment to scientific cooperation between scientists from this region.The expedition will take place 50 years after the famous voyage by the ship Calypso during which Jacques Cousteau made the film The Silent World that won the Palme dOr at the Film Festival in Cannes.

Canada
Le Centre des sciences de Montréal will organize, in co-operation with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, will organize a weekend (8-9 November) of reflection, debates and exchanges on Science and Peace, the responsibility of scientists and, lastly, science and human needs. (Click here to read the programme).

Madagascar
Special sessions on science will take place at the Academie Nationale des Arts, des Lettres et des Sciences. A contest for secondary students has been organized on "Responsible use of science for the benefit of society”. An award ceremony will be held within the National Commission for UNESCO for the contest winners.

Mozambique
The Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology is organizing from 11 to 14 November the First Exhibit of Science and Technology in Mozambique (1ª Mostra Moçambicana de Ciência & Tecnologia).

Portugal
The National Commission for UNESCO and the Commission for Women's Equality and Rights are organizing "Women on Science for Peace and Development" on 10 November in Lisbon.

This event will not only promote science as a tool for peace and development, but also enhance the role of Portuguese women in this field. The seminar will comprise three workshops on the major issues of: Bioethics, Sustainable Development and Society and Science for Development (Click here to read the programme).

Romania
An award ceremony for Science journalism will take place in the presence of the President of Romania, Mr. Ion Iliescu, at the National Commission for UNESCO.

Tunisia
The UNESCO National Commission will organize public meetings and various activities in universities and schools in different towns around the country (Sfax, Ezzitouna,) with the participation of scientists. An evening debate on Science and Peace will be organized in Sfax. At the Cité de la Science an exhibit will open showing national research on Agriculture and Environment. A conference on biodiversity and food security will be held.


In focus

Science Centre at the Al Qudz

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