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Sydney Communiqué
Sydney, Australia, 1-5 December 1998

Regional Conference on Priorities for Science in
the 21st Century for the Asia-Pacific Region

Conclusion and Recommendations

Contents
Issues and Suggested Actions
Gender-Related Issues
Promoting Science to Serve Humanity
Traditional Science - Indigenous Practices, Equity and Access to Science
The Image of Science, Ethics and Trust
Science Education
Co-Operation/ Linkages in a Globalized World
Contacts

 

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:    Back to top

· the new millennium see the establishment of a new and balanced relationship between science, society and the environment at all levels from local to global;
· 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
   

Gender-Related Issues    Back to top

Issues/problems relating to women's participation in SET include:

· lack of gender-based data collection, indicators and collation of information;
· 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 male-dominated area;
· 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 workers.

Thus, UNESCO should:      Back to top

·

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.

Nations should:      Back to top

· ensure that all government policies and reports relating to SET include gender analysis;
· 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.

Promoting Science to Serve Humanity    Back to top

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 issue.

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 and facilities.

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.

Scientists should   Back to top

· 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 local conditions;
· share their knowledge and problems across disciplines and with the global community.

Local women and men need to be trained to train others.

Science funding structures need to provide incentives to attract and sustain scientists with the qualities identified above and support their training.

There is a need to increase the use of SET to counter environmental degradation.

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 initiatives).

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.

Traditional Science - Indigenous Practices, Equity and Access to Science    Back to top

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.

The Image of Science, Ethics and Trust     Back to top

There should be standards of ethics which incorporate community consultation.

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 out.

Local knowledge and local natural resources need to be valued and SET use of natural resources should avoid bio-piracy and unethical bio-prospecting.

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 communication.

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.

Science Education     Back to top

With the support of UNESCO, Asia and Pacific Governments should:

· increase literacy and numeracy rates in developing countries;
· raise the level of comprehension of languages most generally used in scientific communities;
· 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 tertiary-level institutions;
· 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 gender-inclusive;
· 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     Back to top

The World Conference on Science outcomes should:

· support government-private sector joint initiatives promoting the entry of persons into fulfilling careers in SET education and research;
· 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 employment.

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.

 

Contacts    Back to top
For further information, please contact: mc.alacorn@memo.unesco.org

 

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