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Address delivered during FORUM III

by Dr Raoul Kneucker
Director-General, Federal Ministry of Science and Transport

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The World Conference on Science for the Twenty-first century addresses the role of science, research and technology, a role which has recently undergone fundamental change. It is UNESCO that acknowledges this important fact very early. This Conference is called at precisly the right moment in time.

Nowadays, we are confronted with the results of scientific research directly and day by day. It does not take generations to weld the results of scientific research into feasible products, services and technologies. Today internationalization and globalization give at the same time an impetus and a momentum for the results of scientific and industrial development.

The well-prepared conference documents prove that up-to-date international cooperation in the field of science, research and technology relies on joint actions and shared responsibility - this means that international scientific cooperation no longer depends solely on the exchange of knowledge and on mobility programmes for scientists and researchers but is now also the joint international ‚production‘ of knowledge.

The documents correctly mention the existing controversies concerning international trends and developments, for example:

  • the debate between scientists and researchers on the one hand and the meta-scientists on the other hand
  • the North-South issue.

In general, Austria agrees with the findings of the documents and welcomes them; nevertheless we insist on a principal and fundamental debate on the (technical) term ‚science‘. In our perception, ‚science‘ has to be understood in a broad, wide and all-embracing manner since all of the different sciences and disciplines are to contribute to the scientific, economic, social and cultural development of humankind.

The ideal we pursue is ‚science without borders‘ and in that sense we need a new commitment for science. I prefer this term over ‚social contract‘, for social contract is a historical European term and does not express the complex relationships of science in today`s society.)

- a new commitment of scientists to society:

  • towards a credible dialogue between scientists and people; about science, science processes and impacts of science (I support the suggestion of UK to initiate a new UNESCO Program: Education of science journalists);
  • towards helping to solve problems of society through research; promote social and economic and industrial development and its renewal through science.

- a new commitment of societies and goverments to science and scientists:

  • societies and governments have a responsibility to secure freedom of research and of creativity; as scientists will not, as a rule, misuse science, society should not distrust or criminalize science and scientists; however, in order to restore a somewhat lost confidence, UNESCO should continue its efforts in elaborating a code of Ethics of Science;
  • governments are responsible to secure basic research, education and scientific infrastructure by appropriate funding procedures; science funding must guarantee both science for scientific development and for cultural, social and economic developments; without fundamental science economy will not develop any new applications;

* governments must take measures in order to prevent waste of talent, in particular, by excluding women and minorities from participation in science.

- a new commitment of scientists and science institutions, not only governments, to participate in international programs:

  • the region of Europe has developed new forms and has made renewed efforts by deciding FR 5 of the EU. Scientists are motivated anew; this is particularly important for small states.
  • today there is de facto a worldwide division of labour in science production, and there are imbalances in that division. In order to reduce imbalances and to allow global and free and open partnerships we need the personal engagement of scientists.


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