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Russian Science on
the Threshold of the 21st Century

St Petersburg (Russian Federation) 17-19 September 1998

International Conference

Final Summary

Recommendations to the UNESCO World Conference on Science


Introduction    Back to top

The Conference generated strong interest in Russia and among other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as among European countries. It was attended by more than 200 participants. Russian delegates represented the Russian Parliament (Duma), Government of the Russian Federation, Central and Siberian branches of the Russian Academy of Sciences (represented by vice-presidents responsible for these branches), the Universities of Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk and other major Russian universities, industrial research institutions, public organizations and funds, etc. Representatives of UNESCO, the European Commission, International Association for the Promotion of Cooperation with Scientists from the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (INTAS), George Soros Foundation, British Council, Earth Data Network for Education and Scientific Exchange (EDNES) and the Committee on Data (CODATA) of the International Council for Science (ICSU) took an active part in the Conference. UNESCO's Moscow office and the Moscow office of the French Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) provided an important contribution during the preparatory and follow-up stages of the Conference. The Conference attracted a lot of mass media attention, including from the St Petersburg television channel and national and local newspapers.

The Conference was organized by the Science Leaders Guild and hosted by the Vedeneev Energy Studies and Electrification Institute in St Petersburg. The President of the Science Leaders Guild, academician Vladimir Strakhov, chaired the Conference. The Executive Secretary of the UNESCO World Conference on Science, Howard Moore, participated in the Conference and co-chaired the round table discussion on the Conference's recommendations to the UNESCO/ICSU World Conference on Science in Budapest (26 June - 1 July 1999).

Recommendations to the UNESCO World Conference on Science    Back to top

  1. Governments of countries whose economic systems are in transition should do their best to find resources to provide enhanced support for basic and applied scientific research and technological development in their countries. This is especially important for countries like the Russian Federation, where the high level of research activities is well-known and highly valued by the international scientific community. Times are really hard in the Russian Federation and some other CIS countries where science has been drastically underfunded since 1992. Taking into account the importance of CIS science for the whole international scientific community, the UNESCO World Conference on Science can consider to include in its World Declaration on Science and Use of Scientific Knowledge an appeal to the governments of the CIS countries to accord science funding and planning in their countries much higher priority than at present.

  2. Higher education in many countries in transition, in particular in CIS countries, has become a paying service and expensive for most of the population. This should be considered an obvious step back and an obstacle to the development of science. It will badly damage the future scientific capacities of the CIS countries and of the international scientific community in general. At the same time, it is more than ever necessary to develop the scientific ability of the population to increase public participation in the decision-making process related to the application of new knowledge. With the assistance of national and international scientific/educational communities, the governments of the CIS countries should clearly formulate the problem and start solving it.

  3. Modern science functions more and more using information technologies. Virtual universities and laboratories are becoming 'everyday' tools for modern scientific international working groups. At the same time, the existing wide gap between developed countries, countries in transition and developing countries in communication facilities and in the level of necessary education and training in telematics may practically isolate the two latter groups of countries from the former in the near future. Governments of the countries in all three groups, together with the international community, should do their utmost to prevent this happening and to close the gap. Research projects on teleworking and virtual laboratories with the participation of all types of countries should be encouraged.

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