Back to UNESCO WCS Home page


Science and Society: a New Social Contract
Bangalore, India, 27-29 January 1999

International Symposium

Bangalore Communiqué on Science and Society

Science with a human face
Science as a knowledge system
Equity in science
Access to science
Science and empowerment
Cooperation in science
Science education
Science in the next millennium

The delegates to the International Symposium Science and Society: a New Social Contract, organized by the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India, under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Departments of Science and Technology, and Education, Government of India,

Recognizing    Back to top

Having met in Bangalore from 27 to 29 January 1999 with the aim of assessing the potential role of science and technology (S&T) in improving the quality of human life everywhere in the world, and particularly in the developing countries, in the coming millennium, and

  • that food, security, shelter, access to quality health care and to education andknowledge skills are the cornerstones of development,
  • that the developing countries possess an untapped wealth of human resources,
  • that the empowerment of women and the protection of the young hold the key to population stabilization, healthy families and collective prosperity,
  • that the majority of people everywhere express themselves effectively and creatively in their own culture, ethos, and language,
  • that prevailing concepts of community and sharing among many indigenous cultures are in conflict with the present regime of monetized intellectual property rights,
  • that the nurturing of open societies and the elimination of existing gross inequalities in wealth, power and status are essential for the long-term stability of human civilization,
  • that the ability to assimilate any new technology is not uniform across, and even within, cultures,
  • that developing countries are caught in a cycle of poverty and dependence which they can break through radical social and economic transformation, strong political will and the appropriate use of S&T,

Proclaim the principles that follow and adopt the present Communiqué:

Science with a human face    Back to top

  1. Science in the coming millennium should be recognized as a multidisciplinary enterprise and interpreted to subsume the natural sciences, social sciences and technological sciences including engineering and medicine.

  2. All the nations of the world are urged to unite in a common vision of our collective future and commit themselves to the use of knowledge derived from the natural, social and technological sciences to address basic human needs, improve the quality of life for all the citizens of the world and generate a healthy environment for present and future generations.

  3. All national governments and parliaments should fund and promote scientific research to the best of their economic abilities and use the knowledge gained from such endeavours to address important global problems, including those of social and economic inequalities, poverty, social injustice, inadequate health care and education and environmental degradation.

  4. Fragmentation of traditional societies under the influence of certain existing techno-economic regimes has to be checked and technologies with a human face developed where life values are as much respected as are functional aspects.

  5. Appropriate technology drawn from modern scientific advancement and indigenous and civilization knowledge systems must be incorporated into micro-planning programmes for alleviation of poverty by governments at the national level and international cooperation promoted to enable developing nations to develop and utilize such technology to enhance the quality of life.

  6. There is an urgent necessity for careful social impact studies during implementation of development projects, which would facilitate the aiding of displaced populations to avoid downward mobility and degradation in the quality of life.

Science as a knowledge system    Back to top

  1. It must be recognized that indigenous and civilizational knowledge systems that evolved in different civilizations led to distinctive world views and affected the emergence of diverse systems of social structure and governance.

  2. Modern forms of knowledge must not be allowed to marginalize the more indigenous knowledge systems and dialogue between these systems should be promoted in order to arrive at the most appropriate pathways to sustainable development, thus opening up new relationships between people, science and society.

  3. Modern applied scientific research should take account of indigenous and civilizational knowledge systems to enhance our understanding of social problems and to effectively draw upon such knowledge systems to promote the social and economic welfare of the local populations and for better management of the natural resources of the area.

  4. There is a clear need for systematic and in-depth analysis of the parallelism of insights between indigenous and civilizational knowledge systems, on the one hand, and certain areas of modern science concerned with fundamental aspects, on the other.

  5. In the face of increasing social transformations and globalization, modern scientific methodologies have to be harnessed to exploring existing indigenous and civilizational knowledge systems to ensure the survival protection and prorogation of the cultural heritage and diversity of all indigenous peoples across the world.

Equity in science    Back to top

  1. Inequalities and inequities having been created among nations and within nations as a result of exploitative forces in cultures, the international society at large is called upon to participate in the creation of a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable world.

  2. Developing nations should harness available scientific knowledge and technical skills to meet the challenge of sustainable development whereby the economic and social needs of all peoples are met without compromising on the maintenance of a healthy environment and the conservation of vital natural resources.

  3. Developed nations, which account for the bulk of global consumption of the earth's natural resources and the damage caused to the environment by human activities are called upon to recognize and practice sustainable consumption of such resources.

  4. Global economic institutions must provide incentives for widespread diffusion of institutions which have demonstrated capabilities for sustainable development in different agro-economic regions with artisan-based industry and culture-backed services linked with larger markets.

  5. Concerns for intellectual property rights should not be allowed to exploit the various forms of indigenous and civililzational knowledge so faithfully preserved by indigenous populations over millennia, care being taken to ensure that benefits derived from such biological and intellectual resources are not misappropriated.

  6. A firm commitment should be made to the principle of equity in sharing benefits from existing indigenous knowledge and the biodiversity conservation ethics of rural and tribal communities with active support being given to initiatives like that of the World Intellectual Property Organization in developing and rewarding indigenous knowledge and traditional technologies.

Access to science    Back to top

  1. Access to scientific knowledge and technical skills is a fundamental right of every citizen of the world as is the right to education.

  2. The problems of privatization and monopolization of science and that of proprietary knowledge should not lead to the denial of benefits of technological innovations in the areas of food and health security to the economically and socially under-privileged sections of society everywhere.

  3. There is a need to ensure that concerns for intellectual property rights do not end up as a mechanism for building newer forms of knowledge monopolies.

Science and empowerment    Back to top

  1. Information empowerment for people has to be effectively realized through the development of accessible data bases which inform people about their rights and entitlements, and other such programmes that are need-based rather than globalized, demand-driven rather than supply-driven, and local-specific rather than generic.

  2. Dissemination of appropriate information must be carried out and a new social form established to enable proper public participation and debate in ethics and policy decision-making processes.

  3. Scientific knowledge derived from the natural and social sciences has to be applied to reduce gender imbalances, particularly for working women where time spent in work has to be reduced but the value added to such labour enhanced significantly.

  4. Opportunities for women in the areas of primary and higher education, health care and health education, as well as vocational training need to be developed and strengthened.

Cooperation in science    Back to top

  1. Scientific capacity should be built up particularly in the developing countries, through training programmes, cooperative networks and other interaction between universities, government-funded research institutions and industry which involve natural and social scientists as well as technologists.

  2. Communication, cooperation and information linkages have to be built up between the scientific community, on the one hand, and decision-makers from the productive sectors, on the other, so that better-focussed applied research programmes can be executed and results obtained from such programmes incorporated more successfully into policy-making.

  3. Funding and support for scientific research at the national level needs to strike an effective balance between the public and private sectors so that there is absolutely no compromise on social welfare programmes and other forms of public good.

  4. International cooperation in fields such as information technology, particularly among developing countries, must be promoted so that technologies and research experiences can be shared.

Science education    Back to top

  1. Formal and non-formal education programmes directed toward promoting basic education in general and scientific literacy in particular need to be developed and executed at all levels and for people of all ages.

  2. Attempts should be made to introduce and internalize the methods of science and scientific culture within the school system.

  3. Social perceptions of science have to be recognized, comprehended and documented, while scientific culture is spread with the society.

  4. There is an urgent need to reorient the education system in most developing countries to provide scientific knowledge relevant to the cultural ethos of the particular society.

  5. Programmes should be initiated and public policies declared, with the full support of international agencies, to allow the contextualisation of formal educational systems within different social frameworks.

  6. Public awareness about the nature and applications of scientific research, particularly for public good, has to be promoted through cooperative activities directed toward major groups such as youth, indigenous populations, the media, as well as appropriate governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Science in the next millennium    Back to top

  1. Our future lies in eco-technologies, involving appropriate blends of traditional wisdom and modern science, which should be able to overcome some serious deficiencies in contemporary developmental pathways such as the rich–poor divide, gender inequity, unemployment and environmental damage.

  2. Biosphere reserves need to be set up in different climatic zones and ecosystems of the world where modern scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge derived from the indigenous peoples inhabiting these areas can be integrated and harnessed to conserve biological diversity and better manage natural resources.

  3. Agricultural research has to be promoted at various levels and proper distribution systems applied successfully to ensure basic food security for every citizen of the world.

  4. Meteorological and hydrological research should be actively supported to understand the relationship between climatic changes, variability in weather conditions and their hydrological components in order to develop better management strategies for granddaughter resources, for overall sustainable water management in tropical, arid and semi-arid regions and thus to substantially enhance the availability of clean water to the rural population, particularly women, in developing countries.

  5. Socially appropriate, economically viable and environmentally sound construction materials should be developed and used for housing of homeless people across the world.

  6. Basic and applied scientific research on renewable resources has to be promoted to provide clean energy and thus improve the socioeconomic conditions of millions of rural people, particularly women, in developing countries.

  7. Global research must be initiated to assess and protect the health of the world's oceans, marine life and coastal environments, and develop ecologically conscious national programmes to harvest marine resources on a sustainable basis.

  8. The power to manipulate the very blueprints of life, provided by the modern advances in recombinant DNA technology, must be used with caution and with a strong sense of ethics and equity.

  9. -------------------

The delegates to the


Back to top

Considering the Bangalore Communiqué which was adopted on 29 January 1999, and

that UNESCO has the duty of mobilizing and uniting various forms of international action,

Suggest a plan of action for inclusion in the Science Agenda: Framework for Action to be adopted at the World Conference on Science, Budapest, June 1999, whereby the Member States of UNESCO are called upon to:

  1. Establish an international initiative for the conservation and promotion of indigenous and civilizational knowledge systems to enable the Member States to recognize, protect and promote such knowledge systems,

  2. Design a series of projects that would recognize the range of influence and economic value of technologies either residing in indigenous and civilizational knowledge systems or emerging from grass-root innovations and study how best to protect and reward such intellectual property leading to a revised international convention on protection of intellectual property rights with special emphasis on indigenous and civilizational knowledge systems,

  3. Recognize the many philosophical and ethical frameworks in the civilizations of the world other than those in the West and develop a truly all-encompassing discourse on ethics in science which would necessarily incorporate these frameworks and thus in the process,

  4. Draw up an international code of ethics for S&T wherein a range of issues including the regulation of knowledge monopolies will be addressed,

  5. Prepare an international convention that would recognize the major socioeconomic problems faced by developing nations which lose trained scientists and technicians to the more developed countries and design strategies to compensate for the loss of economic investment in human resources involved in S&T,

  6. Support an international initiative in the exploration of emerging foci of scientific research in areas other than Europe and North America, and examine the role of the cultural milieus of these regions in the shaping of the sciences in the coming millennium,

  7. Sponsor a programme on promotion of scientific culture accessible to all,

  8. Take suitable initiatives to consciously promote such projects that contribute positively to the integration of the natural and social sciences,

  9. Support training programmes for natural and social scientists and for technologists on legal and policy issues and regulations guiding international research and development in areas such as information and communication technologies, biodiversity conservation and biotechnology, and

  10. Launch an international initiative to extend the scope of UNESCO's Declaration on the Human Genome to include plant genomes so that exclusivity in the control of life processes can be avoided,

  11. Draw up a scheme for promotion of international cooperation to help the developing nations develop and utilize appropriate technology for poverty alleviation, and

  12. Prepare an international convention on sustainable consumption which would lay down guidelines to regulate the utilization of the fast-eroding natural resources on our planet.

Contacts    Back to top
For further information, please contact:


Associated Meetings List
Back to UNESCOBack to Natural SciencesBack to WCS