Sydney, Australia, 1-5 December 1998
Regional Conference on Priorities for Science in
the 21st Century for the Asia-Pacific Region
Conclusion and Recommendations
ContentsIssues and Suggested Actions
Promoting Science to Serve
Traditional Science -
Indigenous Practices, Equity and Access to Science
The Image of Science, Ethics and
Co-Operation/ Linkages in a
The afore-mentioned Regional Conference was held in
preparation for the UNESCO/ICSU World Conference on Science in Budapest in 1999.
Delegations from the following countries attended the
Conference: Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Korea (Republic
of), Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea,
Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet
Nam and Australia. Individuals from Argentina, Ecuador and Slovenia also attended.
The Conference agreed on the following key points and
recommends to the World Conference on Science that:
||the new millennium see the establishment of a new and balanced
relationship between science, society and the environment at all levels from local to
||science be interpreted as SET (Science, Engineering and Technology);
||UNESCO, ICSU and other bodies concerned with SET promote actively science
and social sciences and the relationship between them as the basis for sustainable and
equitable living and for building a lasting peace;
||SET, in a transformed science-society partnership which ensures a
sustainable and equitable future, be one where the experiences and knowledge of women and
men from all cultures are equally valued and respected and where all people participate
meaningfully at all stages of the SET process;
||scientists have a social responsibility to focus on matters of economic
value to people in alleviating poverty, which is both a global and a gender issue;
||accessibility to knowledge (including issues of education, gender and
traditional knowledge) should be addressed as a priority by UNESCO, as lead agency for
science within the UN system;
||the role of UNESCO as lead science agency within the United Nations system
be reaffirmed, within the context of increasing partnerships between nations, governmental
and non-governmental organizations and industry;
||in particular, the urgent need be recognized for UNESCO and ICSU to
promote SET to assist with improved management of freshwater and marine resources,
including reducing pollution and managing catchments effectively;
||UNESCO and other UN bodies increase support for SET that will mitigate
disasters including risk assessment and predictive activities, particularly those
associated with anticipated effects of accelerated climate change;
||high priority be given to enhancing communication of the processes of
science and its outcomes, especially through improved linkages to policy-makers and
increasing popular presentations of science so as to enhance understanding and
appreciation of SET by policy-makers and civil society;
||UNESCO initiate an international programme for enhancing the extent and
professional quality of reporting of SET in the mass media and independent interpretation
of the issues involved, adapting the programme to the situations and requirements of
individuals and groups;
||promotion of scientific literacy and awareness be facilitated using both
formal and informal methods and encompass modern and traditional science. UNESCO should
facilitate joint activity between its education, science, culture and communication
sectors to achieve this objective;
||UNESCO and other bodies devote resources to ensuring international equity
in training in all aspects of SET including research and development management.
Scientific competence will only come if there is a sound educational base. Accordingly
nations should provide for adequate gender-inclusive training at all levels;
||nations and international organizations concerned with SET develop
frameworks for ethical standards in SET. UNESCO and ICSU should play a lead role in
promoting the adoption and use of an international code of ethics in SET.
Detailed consideration of these
recommendations is to be found hereafter.
Issues and Suggested Actions
Issues/problems relating to women's participation in SET
||lack of gender-based data collection, indicators and collation of
||lack of a gender-responsive [women's] environment in SET, limiting
provision for women's career development in SET;
||inflexible work organization in SET careers;
||gender-stereotyped public images of SET cultures reflecting SET as a
||insufficient women in decision-making roles such that the interests of
women, particularly disadvantaged women, are not taken into account;
||design of educational systems is not conducive to women's full and equal
participation in SET;
||lack of training and understanding of gender issues in SET communities;
||lack of involvement of women in the design of technology resulting in the
production of technologies that do not respond properly and adequately to women's
concerns. In a number of cases, these technologies lead to the exploitation of women;
||lack of consultation in factory design may exploit the health of women
Thus, UNESCO should:
take the lead in reviewing and reforming
its own offices, programmes and research projects for responsiveness to gender;
with other UN agencies, establish a
clearing-house for data, indicators and case studies that support successful interventions
that have created change for women and girls in relation to SET;
establish a project to develop, document
and disseminate lighthouse projects that involve end-users, especially those from
disempowered groups, in knowledge-generation;
establish an information technology project
to cross-link Asia-Pacific networks that promote gender reform in SET.
||ensure that all government policies and reports relating to SET include
||redesign the educational system to ensure gender sensitivity;
||ensure that governments and other professional associations address gender
balance on all peer-review panels.
Non-governmental organizations including SET
professionals, trade unions and professional association should be encouraged to pay
attention to downstream processes, particularly the mass production and use of new
technologies, to ensure that gender issues are not compromised.
Science to Serve Humanity
UNESCO should actively promote the social sciences and SET
as the basis for sustainable development to ensure the livelihood of future generations.
Scientists have a social obligation to focus on matters of
economic value to people in alleviating poverty, which is both a global and a gender
All nations need to share information, knowledge and
research findings incorporating intellectual property rights.
The social and natural sciences should meet these basic
survival needs by building local capacity in a spirit of cooperation, sharing resources
and knowledge between nations, and aim at simple solutions appropriate to local technology
Not all answers stem from science, but may be found in
political, cultural or institutional areas.
Processes and mechanisms need to be in place to enable
scientists to work with local people to find solutions based on local knowledge.
Monitoring and evaluation of science programmes should
ensure that these are appropriate to the needs of local people.
||be sensitive to the idea of sustainable development;
||work with local people;
||use local equipment/food etc. to build solutions;
||work with scientists from other disciplines as a team effort (scientists
need an awareness of, and a sensitivity to, not only SET but also social and cultural
issues, and the humanities);
||talk to local men and women in terms they understand;
||have a hands-on approach and be versatile in applying science to meet
||share their knowledge and problems across disciplines and with the global
Local women and men need to be trained to
Science funding structures need to provide incentives to
attract and sustain scientists with the qualities identified above and support their
There is a need to increase the use of SET to counter
Inadequate water supplies will limit the capacity to ensure
future health and peaceful co-existence among nations. There is an urgent need for
scientists to provide information that ensures future freshwater supplies and their
sustainable exploitation, and protects freshwater resources from degradation, including
pollution and salt-water intrusion.
Appropriate technologies for waste disposal and sanitation
must be developed.
Input from SET is required to protect the oceans and ocean
resources from pollution, prevent over-exploitation of Asia-Pacific fisheries and tackle
threats to the coastal zone.
Appropriate development of new methodologies for increasing
sustainable food production is required.
Research is required on the links between unsustainable
farming practices on sensitive ecosystems and the loss of land and desertification.
There is a need to continue SET that will mitigate
disasters and this should include risk assessment and predictive capabilities.
Research is required on the efficiency of appropriate
sustainable energy, for example through the World Solar Programme.
SET is required to mitigate effects of global climate
change, especially the threats of sea-level rise and water shortages.
Governments must be encouraged to lay emphasis within the
science curriculum on the sustainable use of resources (eg. reduce, re-use, recycle
UNESCO should set up a facility to act as a clearing-house
for curriculum development to assist governments that have yet to establish the above in
their science curricula.
A regional centre should be established to promote
sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific including a co-ordination and training
facility for scientists implementing activities in this area should be supported.
There is a desperate need for further research and exchange
of existing information between countries with regard to the handling and rehabilitation
of nuclear and other toxic waste.
Science - Indigenous Practices, Equity and Access to Science
The UN system as a whole should address the sustainability
of, and access to, SET (modern and traditional) as a matter of great priority.
UNESCO should recognise the value of traditional knowledge
through greater support for its research and transmission.
There should be widespread adoption of successful models
showing the benefit of greater accessibility to SET by grass-root communities.
There should be encouragement on greater accessibility to
information and promotion of research into conservation-based entrepreneurial activities
that are successful.
Every effort should be made to see that appropriate
equipment is provided, and is accessible, for science education and science research in
schools/educational institutions and research centres.
Dialogue between practitioners of modern and traditional
science should be facilitated.
Image of Science, Ethics and Trust
There should be standards of ethics which incorporate
Applications for research funding should include a
statement on ethics which provides for community consultation.
Individual scientists working in commercial enterprises
must take responsibility when the commercialisation and promotion of their work is carried
Local knowledge and local natural resources need to be
valued and SET use of natural resources should avoid bio-piracy and unethical
UNESCO should be active in providing international
standards to ensure an appropriate framework for ethics and moral issues through
consultation with all interested parties.
There is a need to improve the image of science and
scientists within society and scientists should be encouraged to be actively engaged in
science management and politics.
Training programmes for scientists should include
management, ethics, image building and communications.
UNESCO should foster the optimal use of emerging electronic
technologies, such as the Internet and World Wide Web sites, for facilitating SET
UNESCO should encourage popularization of SET, for example
through science centres, science festivals, and museums.
NGOs play an effective role in the communication of
science, and scientists should be encouraged to take an active part in such strategies.
Institutions should develop regular review processes to
ensure that science is responsive and accountable to community and gender concerns.
With the support of UNESCO, Asia and Pacific Governments
||increase literacy and numeracy rates in developing countries;
||raise the level of comprehension of languages most generally used in
||encourage the teaching of Science for Sustainable Living, which is related
to local circumstances, early on in schooling;
||give priority to the teaching and learning of science and allocate
sufficient funding for this purpose;
||review and develop approaches to make the teaching and learning of SET
enjoyable and effective;
||provide adequate incentives to make science teaching an attractive career;
||ensure that all schools have adequate laboratory and library facilities,
especially in rural areas;
||ensure that science teaching is directed towards understanding the
processes of science;
||encourage the introduction of information technology into schools at the
earliest possible stage;
||ensure greater interaction in SET education between school and
||encourage the inclusion of instruction in scientific method and research
skills in school science curricula;
||remove institutional, cultural and economic barriers which disadvantage
girls and women in science education; make the curriculum resources and teaching methods
||require science teachers to hold a degree in science and a diploma or
degree in teaching;
||make adequate resources available at university level to support research
and development activities;
||Ensure that there is a resourcing balance to support both basic research
and applied research (engineering, technology).
Co-Operation/ Linkages in a Globalized World
The World Conference on Science
||support government-private sector joint
initiatives promoting the entry of persons into fulfilling careers in SET education and
||be directed towards enabling researchers
from developing countries to participate in international research projects, and gain
access to advanced research facilities;
||emphasize the pursuit of scientific
research and training through multilateral arrangements.
UNESCO should promote the establishment of
international inter-disciplinary research centres in frontier areas of SET.
UNESCO's SET initiatives in the next millennium should be
developed in close co-operation with other UN bodies/agencies/commissions.
To complement initiatives like the World Science Report,
UNESCO should co-ordinate the gathering of more comprehensive and analytical data on SET.
These data should assist in understanding issues and trends in SET education, careers and
UNESCO should promote international co-operation between
Member States oriented towards understanding and using traditional scientific knowledge
and practices. Recognizing the potential of engineering and technology for industrial
development, UNESCO should assist the development of partnerships between universities,
research and development laboratories and industry.
Through co-operation between its Education and Science
Sectors, UNESCO should support initiatives to create a clearing-house for educational
courseware in science and technology.
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