and WHO to join forces in combating emerging diseases
June 2003 - UNESCO and the WHO are to strengthen collaboration
in the field of emerging diseases. This is one recommendation
of a meeting held on 17 and 18 May which has also called for
greater collaboration between veterinary and human medicine,
in view of the animal-to-human transmission of several important
pathogenic factors such as the human-variant Creuzfeld Jacob
Disease and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which
was identified only earlier this year.
seminar on Basic Sciences and Emerging Pathogenic Factors was
held at the Science Centre of the Polish Academy in Paris (France)
and co-organized by UNESCO and the European
Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (EAASH), with the
participation of scientists from WHO,
FAO and the International Office
roundtable led by Prof. Jeanne Bugère-Picoux, a French
specialist in animal pathology, focused on what is commonly
referred to as 'mad cow disease'. This is part of the larger
family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs),
or prion diseases. Researchers presented the latest findings
on TSEs, which are a group of rare degenerative brain disorders
characterized by microscopic holes that give the brain a 'spongy'
appearance. 'Mad cow disease' crossed the species barrier to
infect humans after animal remains were introduced into the
cows' feed in the UK in the 1980s.
group led by Dr Diego Buriot, Director of WHO's Lyon office
in France, focused on emerging viral diseases like SARS and
viral hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. These viral fevers generally
attack several organs, while damaging the body's ability to
regulate itself. The symptoms are often accompanied by bleeding.
Many of these viruses cause severe, life-threatening disease
and most are zoonotic, which means that they 'jump' to humans
from animal hosts, mainly rodents and insects like ticks and
bacterial diseases were the focus of a second group led by Prof.
Brugère-Picoux. Ticks are currently considered to be
second only to mosquitoes as vectors of human infectious diseases
in the world. In the USA, for example, more than 16,000 people
contract Lyme disease each year after being bitten by infected
vaccine development is a time-consuming and costly undertaking
at present, the seminar considered that the development of new
vaccines would prove to be a cost-effective way of preventing
infectious diseases in the long term thanks to new advances
in molecular biology. Since economic factors influence pharmaceutical
companies in developed countries, new vaccines will only be
developed if there is market for them in the developed world.
This obviously poses a serious problem for poorer countries
afflicted by 'orphan' diseases like Ebola or malaria which have
no market value in the North. Currently, 80% of vaccines are
produced by just 4 pharmaceutical companies.
light of the importance of establishing and boosting local research
and diagnostic capacities, the meeting identified UNESCO as
an important player in promoting research into human and animal
infections and the development of new therapeutic tools.
there more diseases today than a century ago? Possibly not.
What is new is that environmental and climatic changes, coupled
with overexploitation of natural reserves, are augmenting human
exposure to disease reservoirs and vectors in nature. Moreover,
globalization has influenced the spread of infectious diseases
throughout the world, as the spread of SARS has most recently
demonstrated. It is thus vital to strengthen both the global
surveillance system for infectious diseases and the open exchange
of information concerning epidemics. UNESCO and WHO are keen
to foster global networks in epidemiology and research into
infectious diseases and emerging pathogenic factors.
and WHO can play a role in educating and informing the public
about infectious diseases and their means of propagation. There
is also a need to address some cultural practices which influence
the spread of diseases in human and animal populations, such
as traditional burial customs or practices for food and animal
seminar was organized in the light of the decision by UNESCO's
Director-General Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, for the European
Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities to collaborate with
UNESCO and contribute towards implementation of Item 26 of the
Science Agenda-Framework for Action, which states, 'all countries
should share scientific knowledge and cooperate to reduce avoidable
ill-health throughout the world. Each country should assess
and so identify the health improvement priorities that are best
suited to their own circumstances. National and regional research
programmes aimed at reducing variations in health among communities,
such as collecting good epidemiological and other statistical
data and communicating corresponding best practice to those
who can use it, should be introduced'.
Nalecz, Director of UNESCO's Division of Basic and Engineering
Sciences, will be meeting Diego Buriot in July to discuss concrete
measures for fresh collaboration.
information, contact: email@example.com
on Declaration on Human Genetic Data (Français)
May 2003 UNESCO's Executive Board took stock last month
of progress in preparing an International Declaration on Human
Genetic Data. Elaborated by UNESCOs International Bioethics
the text seeks to reconcile freedom of research with respect
for human dignity and privacy. It is presently the subject of
an international consultation.
experts will be meeting to discuss the project on 25-27 June,
paving the way for its adoption by UNESCO's General Conference
(bringing together all 188 Member States) in September.
falls within the continuation of the Universal
Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights adopted by
the General Conference in 1997.
relative à la Déclaration sur les données
2003 Le Conseil exécutif de l'UNESCO a fait le point
le mois dernier des progrès réalisés dans
la préparation d'une Déclaration internationale
sur les données génétiques humaines. Elaboré
par le Comité international de bioéthique (CIB)
de l'UNESCO, le texte cherche à concilier la liberté
de la recherche et le respect de la dignité humaine et
de la vie privée. Il fait à présent l'objet
d'une consultation internationale.
gouvernementaux se réuniront du 25 au 27 juin pour discuter
du projet et poser des jalons en vue de son adoption en septembre
par la Conférence générale de l'UNESCO
(qui rassemblera l'ensemble de ses 189 Etats membres).
s'inscrit dans le cadre de la poursuite de la Déclaration
universelle sur le génome humain et les droits de l'homme,
adoptée par la Conférence générale
prepares study on virtual universities
25 April 2003 At a time when distance learning is emerging
as a means of helping universities to tackle pressing challenges,
UNESCO's International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP)
is exploring related policy and planning issues faced by universities.
Challenges include the growing demand for higher education,
declining resources and ever-more diverse student profiles.
UNESCO is involved in a number of distance learning projects.
In 2001 for example, UNESCO's Jakarta Office and ASEAN
launched the ASEAN Virtual University of Science and Technology,
a consortium of the region's leading universities which will
ultimately expand into virtual joint research and development
with the public and private sectors. In the same region, Chonbuk
National University in the Republic of Korea hosts the UNESCO
Centre for IT-based Science Education. And only last month,
UNESCO launched the Avicenna
Virtual Campus, a consortium of distance-learning centres
in 15 European and Mediterranean countries. The European Commission
is contributing 3.7 million euros to the project.
The World Conference on Science considered that the information
and communication revolution offered new and more effective
means of exchanging scientific knowledge and advancing education
and research (Declaration,
para. 15). Technologies based on new methods of communication,
information handling and computation have brought unprecedented
opportunities and challenges for the scientific endeavour as
well as for society at large.
in promoting virtual research and teaching environments in recent
years implements the recommendation in paragraph 21 of the Science
Agenda that research and education institutions 'take account
of the new information and communication technologies, assess
their impact and promote their use, for example through the
establishment of virtual research and teaching environments or
universités virtuelles à l'étude par l'UNESCO
avril 2003 A une époque où l'enseignement
à distance voit le jour comme un moyen d'aider les universités
à s'attaquer à des défis préoccupants,
l'Institut international de l'UNESCO pour la planification de
explore actuellement les questions de politique et de planification
auxquelles les universités ont à faire face pour
relever ces défis. Parmi ceux auxquels le secteur tertiaire
se trouve confronté, on peut citer : une demande croissante
d'enseignement supérieur, des ressources qui périclitent
et des étudiants présentant un profil de plus
en plus diversifié. L'UNESCO participe à un certain
nombre de projets d'enseignements à distance. En 2001
par exemple, le Bureau de l'UNESCO à Djakarta et l'ANASE
ont créé l'Université virtuelle de science
et de technologie de l'ANASE,
consortium d'universités de premier rang de la région
qui, en bout de ligne, s'étoffera aux secteurs public
et privé en vue de travaux de recherche et d'activités
de développement virtuels conjoints. Dans la même
région, l'Université nationale de Chonbuk, en
République de Corée, abrite le centre UNESCO pour
l'enseignement des sciences, axé sur les technologies
de l'information. Pas plus tard que le mois dernier, l'UNESCO
a lancé le campus
virtuel d'Avicenne, consortium de centres d'enseignement
à distance répartis dans 15 pays européens
et autour de la méditerranée. La Commission européenne
finance le projet à hauteur de 3.7 millions d'Euros.
Conférence mondiale sur la science a estimé
que la révolution de l'information et de la communication
avaient offert des moyens nouveaux et plus efficaces de faire
partager le savoir scientifique et de faire progresser l'enseignement
et la recherche (Déclaration,
para. 15). Des technologies axées sur de nouvelles méthodes
de communication, sur la gestion et l'informatisation de l'information
ont créé pour la science - de même que pour
la société dans son ensemble - des occasions et
des défis inégalés jusque là.
de l'UNESCO au cours des dernières années à
la promotion de la recherche virtuelle et des environnements éducatifs
traduit la recommandation de l'Ordre du jour de la Science au
titre du paragraphe 21, à savoir que les institutions de
recherche et d'enseignement 'prennent en considération
les nouvelles technologies d'information et de communication,
évaluent leur impact et encouragent leur utilisation, par
exemple grâce à
la mise en place d'environnements
de recherche et d'enseignement virtuels ou de bibliothèques
Science and Technology Policy in Senegal
March 2002 - The
reinforcement of national capacity in science and technology
policies is the major goal of a project being implemented in
Senegal with support from UNESCO. The Project, launched in 2001
by the Ministry of Education, focuses on the promotion of science
and technology policies that seek to coordinate the efforts
of the research and industrial sectors and so derive full benefit
To this end, an effort is being made to identify
and apply approaches that would foster:
creation of small- and medium-scale enterprises and industries
benefiting from the fruits of national research,
between enterprises, universities and research centres,
favourable environment for improving research and the infrastructures
for making use of its outcome in industry.
kind of project is being given priority within the follow-up
to WCS foreseen in the Programme and Budget of UNESCO for 2002-2003.
The Organization envisages the reinforcement of its programme
in S&T policies, in particular through the development of
human and national/sub-regional institutional capacities for
the management of S&T resources for socio-economic development.
Agenda – Framework for Action, approved by the WCS,
points out that national policies should be adopted in order
to provide consistent and long-term support for S&T, especially
through the strengthening of the human resources base, integration
of science into the national culture, and development of infrastructures
and promotion of technology and innovation capacities. National
authorities and the private sector should support university–industry
partnerships that also involve research institutes and small
and micro-enterprises, and so accelerate returns from science
and generate benefits for all.
project in Senegal directly responds to these expectations and
embraces action that addresses public policy in innovation systems.
It envisages the strengthening of capacities of the nation’s
DESR (Délégation de l’enseignement supérieur
et de la recherche scientifique) in the management of innovations;
the organization of national training workshops with the participation
of international experts; studies abroad of national experts;
the acquisition of software, information materials and training
aids; the preparation of a university course; and the setting
up of university units for co-operation with small enterprises.
UNESCO is currently a major sponsor of the Project. Exchange
of experiences and co-operation with partners that may be interested
to join UNESCO in supporting the project would be welcome.
further information contact the Division of Science Analysis
and Policies, Sector of Natural Sciences, UNESCO;
the quest for strategies to increase participation of women
- A major international Conference on Women in Physics is to
be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 7-9 March 2002. The
event is being organized by the International Union of Pure
and Applied Physics (IUPAP)
in co-operation with a wide range of sponsors from France, Japan,
the UK, the USA, as well as international bodies such as European
Commission, European Science Foundation (ESF),
European Physical Society (EPS),
the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics
(ICTP), Latin American
Centre for Physics (CLAF)
principal goal of the Conference is to understand the causes
of severe under-representation of women in Physics world-wide
and to develop major strategies to increase their participation
in this basic area of science that underlies the progress in
many other areas of modern science and high technology. Some
300 participants from over 60 countries are expected to take
part in the brain-storming talks that will stem from plenary
presentations by women scientists from Brazil, China, Egypt,
France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA.
Agenda - Framework for Action approved by the WCS urged
governments, international organizations, universities and research
institutions to ensure the full participation of women in the
planning, orientation, conduct and assessment of research activities.
In his letter to Professor Burton Richter, President, IUPAP,
Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences,
UNESCO, emphasized that the IUPAP Conference will be one of
the series of important events responding to the recommendations
topics to be discussed include learning from regional differences;
improving the institutional structure and climate for women
in Physics; balancing family and career, attracting girls into
Physics, launching a successful Physics career and getting women
into the Physics power structure - nationally and internationally.
Physicists from around the world will be able to take ideas,
strategies and conference recommendations back to their countries,
and hopefully catalyse tangible action for positive change.
Experience gained from the IUPAP Conference will clearly be
instructive and useful for many other branches of sciences.
further information, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
commits to radical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
February 2003 The United Kingdom has published a White Paper
on energy in which it announces its intention to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions by 60% by 2050.
commitment goes beyond the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997, which
calls for industrial countries to reduce emissions by 5% to
pre-1990 levels by 2012. According to the French daily newspaper,
Le Monde, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair,
declared on 24 February, the day the White Paper was published,
that 'It is clear that Kyoto is not radical enough'.
Blair went on to say that 'In the United Kingdom, we have shown
that it is possible to achieve economic growth without augmenting
pollution in parallel. Thanks to new technologies, we have managed
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5% since 1997 in the United
Kingdom, even as the economy has grown by 17% over the same
period. We are continuing to explain
that climate change
is a serious threat that the international community must tackle.
There can be no true security if the planet is ravaged by climate
Mr Blair is cited by Le Monde as saying that he and the Swedish
Prime Minister, Goeran Persson, have written a letter to the
Greek Prime Minister, Costas Simitis (Greece currently presides
the European Union), asking that Europe commit to adopting the
same target of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by
White Paper also sets the target of producing 20% of energy
using renewable sources (water, wind, biomass, etc.) by 2020.
The United Kingdom is to invest an additional 100 million pounds
(€150 million) in favour of renewable energies; it also
plans to apply exemptions and fiscal incentives, and to make
it easier to construct land- and sea-based wind-energy generators.
One-third of the winds in Europe blow across the British Isles.
White Paper endorses a recommendation by the World Conference
on Science 'that the public and private sectors at national
and international levels support strongly 'S&T research
on clean and sustainable technologies, recycling, renewable
energy resources and efficient use of energy' (para. 35 Science
2010, the United Kingdom will become a net importer of energy
for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, which began
over two hundred years ago. Today, electricity in the United
Kingdom is supplied by natural gas (37%), coal (33%), nuclear
power (22%) and renewable energies (<3%). The United Kingdom
does not foresee the construction of any new nuclear plants,
although this option is not formally excluded.
Monde dated 26 February 2003
comes to Indias blind
February 2003 - The first e-learning centre for the blind
in India opened its doors on 22 November at the National Council
of Education Research and Training in New Delhi, India. The
centre is the first in a series of institutions which will ultimately
bring distance learning to more than 2 million blind children.
10 Braille terminals have been installed in the centre and connected
to the ten work-stations on the Local Area Network. A ZOOM text
software and Braille printer complete the equipment. The project
officer, Mohamed Miloudi, UNESCO expert in distance education,
spent 22 and 23 November training staff at the center, technicians,
educators and persons working with visually impaired children
how to use the SAID-SYSTEM and WebSAID (which use Windows and
Internet respectively). The technologies were also demonstrated
to the representatives of each of Indias states and to
various organisations, such as the National Institute for the
Visually Handicapped and Indian Association for Special Education
and Rehabilitation. UNESCO has contributed US$115,000 in project
costs to the Indian Government.
Asia-Pacific region has by far the largest number of children
with special education needs in the world. Poverty, accident
and malnutrition are some of the causes. Owing to the large
numbers, the region has been slow in providing quality education
to all children and young persons with special needs.
in five Indians are school-age children. And one in ten of these
200 million children have special needs. It is estimated that
there are more than 2 million blind children in India. It is
thus crucial for the countrys socio-economic development
to introduce more efficient educational and training methods.
of the obstacles delaying introduction of Braille technology
into India until now has been the cost of the technology. By
designing a low-cost technology that can be manufactured within
India, Miloudi has overcome that. The new technology gives the
blind access to computer software and hardware developed especially
for their needs, such as the tactile screen which fixes onto
the PC and uses the standard keyboard. The system also repeats
aloud each letter typed on computers equipped with speakers.
Besides bringing knowledge to their fingertips, the new technology
enables the visually impaired to communicate via e-mail to correspondents
around the world.
next step of the Indian project, launched in November 2001,
will to be set up an open virtual library containing the courses.
Existing educational courses will be adapted and made accessible
to the visually impaired, in addition to new courses produced
for the Indian market. All will be freely accessible on-line.
If all goes well, we should see a centre of this type
in every Indian state within a few years and a special terminal
for the blind installed in every cyber café across the
country, says Miloudi. The idea is also to replicate
the Indian experience in other countries of Asia and the Pacific.
1996, UNESCO has implemented other projects using Braille technologies
in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and, most recently, Qatar. The
Noor Institute project in Qatar is co-funded by AGFUND
and Qatari Bank and was inaugurated by UNESCOs Director-General,
Koïchiro Matsuura on 2 January 2002.
World Conference on Science called for special efforts to be
made 'to ensure the full participation of disadvantaged groups
in science and technology'. These should include removing barriers
in the education and research systems, the Science
Agenda recommends (para. 91).
For further information, contact: M.
Miloudi, or go to: New Delhi
breaks new ground
February 2003 - At a ground-breaking ceremony on 6 January,
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura announced the
official launch of the International Centre for Synchrotron
light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle
East (SESAME). The ceremony
celebrated the acceptance of SESAMEs statutes by the seven
Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan laid the cornerstone for
the building at Al-Balqa Applied University, the future
site of SESAME, in the presence of Matsuura and other UNESCO
officials, members of the Jordan Cabinet, the Deputy Director-General
of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
Werner Burkart, and other dignitaries.
Founding Members are Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Palestine
and Turkey. They now form the SESAME Council which, among other
responsibilities, will provide the annual operating budget.
Other countries are expected to join soon.
SESAME Council replaces the International Interim Council that
has met nine times since being formed in 1999. Herwig Schopper
(former Director-General of the European Laboratory for Particle
has been elected to continue as President of the Council with
Khaled Toukan (Minister of Education of Jordan) and Dincer Ulku
(Hacettepe University in Turkey) continuing as Vice-Presidents.
Government of Jordan is providing the site and has agreed to
fund the construction of the building, estimated at US$6-8 million;
it will house the upgraded BESSY I light source donated by Germany,
which is now in Jordan. The upgraded ring will be in the 2-2.5
GeV range. The building has been designed by civil engineers
from Al-Balqa Applied University on the basis of the ANKA
synchrotron radiation facility at the Karlsruhe Research Center.
With the bidding process now over, construction is due to begin
is an independent laboratory created under the auspices of UNESCO
in much the same way that UNESCO assisted in the creation of
CERN 50 years ago.
scientific and technical workshops and schools have been held
in the Middle East on topics relating to the project and 30
scientists and engineers from the Middle East have spent up
to two years working at synchrotron radiation laboratories in
Europe and the USA. Financial support for these activities has
come from Members of the International Interim Council, UNESCO,
synchrotron radiation laboratories in Europe and the USA, IAEA,
International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP),
US Department of Energy, Japanese Society for the Promotion
of Science and other sources.
SESAME staff currently consists of a Technical Director and
Administrative Director. Other appointments are in progress.
Four Advisory Committees (Technical, Scientific, Beam Lines,
and Training) report to the SESAME Council.
further information, go to: www.sesame.org.jo
virtual campus prepares for first intake
31 January 2003 On 9 January, the operational
stage of the Mediterranean Avicenna campus was launched at a
meeting involving Mohamed Miloudi of UNESCO's Division of Science
Policy and Analysis and the 'work-package leaders': the Open
University (UK), UNED
(Spain) and, in France, the Conservatoire national des arts
et metiers, Centre national d'enseignement à distance
(CNED) and Université
euro-méditerrannée sans murs (UM).
Named after Ibn Sina (981–1037 AD), the most
famous physician, philosopher, encyclopedist, mathematician
and astronomer of his time, the Avicenna campus involves 15
countries of Western Europe and North Africa. UNESCO is principal
co-ordinator of the programme, to which the European Commission
contributes €3.7 million through its EUMEDIS programme.
comes at a time when the traditional university system in the
South can no longer cope with the demand for tertiary education.
Strong demographic growth, coupled with economic constraints,
has led governments in North Africa and elsewhere to limit enrolment
in public universities. Only some of the overflow is being absorbed
by foreign and private universities.
20 of the Science Agenda calls upon research and education
institutions to ‘take account of the new information and communication
technologies, assess their impact and promote their use,
for example through the development of electronic publishing
and the establishment of virtual research and teaching environments
or digital libraries.
first operational stage of the Avicenna campus will consist
of staff training in administration and distance teaching methods.
Knowledge officers from the participating centres will be trained
in how to interact with the media engineers and professors,
while tutors will be shown how to interact with students for
a given course. The training will be kicked off by a session
run by the CNED and international experts in e-learning on 17
March for the directors of all the Avicenna centres. This will
be followed by training of the centres' technical and educational
experts, including a session on 30 June organized by the CNED.
a second stage, existing course materials in scientific and
engineering disciplines will be adapted to distance teaching,
5% of which will be adapted for blind students. Each centre
will then use
as a starting point for production of their own materials. 'Cross-fertilization'
of the different contents made available by participating universities
will be encouraged and credits gained by students from one centre
will be acknowledged by other participating universities. The
science and engineering courses and virtual library will be
made available to a first intake of some 3000 students in January
2004. Their numbers are projected to rise exponentially by 2010.
further information :www.unesco.org/pao/avicenna/ibnsina.htm
also WCS Newsletter of 2
: The 17 Avicenna knowledge centres (AKC) in 15 countries
small islands raise their voice
January 2003 The plight of the Moken is one of several real
life situations raised at a workshop in Khuraburi on 25-28 November
2002 on wise coastal practices in Asia and the Pacific. Other
than Thailand, the UNESCO-organized meeting also heard cases
of two other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
countries: the Philippines and Indonesia.
The Moken, the Moklen and the Urak Lawoi are three groups of
maritime hunter-gatherers in the Andaman Sea. Their foraging
grounds are the coastal areas and islands off Myanmar running
south along Thailand and to the Malay Peninsula.
Mesia and her community live in the Surin Islands, 60 km due
west from the port town of Khuraburi near the border with Myanmar.
Khuraburi is a two-hour drive north of the popular tourist resort
Without identity (ID) cards, the Moken dread civil harassment
when they go onshore. With ID cards, they can secure jobs and
state-budgeted social rights.
As sea nomads cross-national borders, the Thai authorities are
reluctant to issue national ID cards to the Moken although they
number only 160 in the Surin Islands. Why?
With the current conflict situation in Myanmar, the Thai
government with national security in mind wouldnt want
to grant citizenship for fear of an influx (of more Moken from
Myanmar), says Dr. Narumon Hinshiranan, an anthropologist
at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok whose dissertation was
on Moken social and environmental interrelationships.
The Moken dilemma was one of several case studies presented
by participants in the workshop on a conflict situation affecting
the environment and communities in coastal areas and small islands.
then explored means of managing each conflict with a tool called
the wise practice agreement (WPA),
a concept developed by UNESCOs coastal areas and small
islands platform (CSI).
2.5 of the Science Agenda deals with Science for peace and conflict
resolution. In particular, paragraph 51 urges governmental and
private funding bodies to 'strengthen or develop research institutions
that carry out interdisciplinary research in the areas of peace
and the peaceful applications of S&T.'
prime minister pledges to revamp science
January 2003 India is to make a concerted effort to lure
home its scientists from abroad and to strip its scientific
agencies of excessive bureaucracy, under a science policy document
Minister Atal Bihari Vaijapee unveiled the Science and Technology
Policy 2003 policy at the Indian Science Congress in Bangalore
on 3 January. Nature
reports that Vaiapyee pledged to increase Indian spending on
research and development (R&D) by government and industry
to at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2007, almost
double that spent last year. This would place India among the
nations of the world which devote the greatest share of GDP
comparison, Western Europe devotes an average 1.8% of GDP to
R&D, compared to 2.5% for the USA and 3.0% for Japan (World
Science Report, 1998).
appealed to India's ‘scientific diaspora’ to return to the country
to help him realize his ‘vision of making India a developed
science and technology secretary, Valangiman Ramamurthi, told
Nature that ‘the mechanisms will be in place very soon’
to attract home scientists who have left India. He said that
the new policy would be rapidly implemented and would give universities
and research institutions greater autonomy.
also said that that increasing Indian spending on R&D to
2% would not be difficult, as spending had already risen from
0.8% in 2000 to 1.08% in 2002.
reports government officials as saying that, under the policy,
science-based ministries would be run by scientists and engineers,
and other ministries will appoint scientific advisory committees.
They also say that selected universities and scientific institutions
will receive money to strengthen infrastructure. Details of
the funding will be left to a task force being set up to find
ways of encouraging private and public investment in research.
Conference on Science called on governments
to ensure stable funding for public research (para. 14, Science
Agenda) and aim for high-quality
scientific institutions capable of providing research and training
facilities in areas of specific interest (para. 7). Paragraph
41 urges governments to accord the highest priority to improving
science education at all levels, to raising public awareness
of science and to fostering its popularization The Science
Agenda also advocates putting in place adequate participatory
mechanisms to facilitate democratic debate on science policy
choices (para. 56).
recently, Brazilian president-elect Luis Inácio 'Lula'
da Silva pledged to double spending on science and technology
to 2% of GDP by the end of his government's term (WCS Newsletter,
K. S. Jayaraman, Nature (421, 101 (2003)),
courtesy of SciDev.Net
science to society
31 December 2002 An
analytical overview of the impact of the World Conference
on Science (Budapest, 1999) and of progress achieved in
initiating, implementing and developing follow-up. Prepared
by UNESCO at the specific request of the Conference itself,
the report addresses governments and international WCS partners,
as well as all other national and regional bodies interested
in taking part in the follow-up process.
World Conference on Science charted new territory for UNESCO.
Drawing on its unique comparative advantage of housing education,
natural and human sciences, communications and culture under
one roof, UNESCO responded to Budapest by adopting a more integrated
approach to problem-solving and the promotion of research and
science education through multilateral cooperation.
Organization’s Medium-Term Strategy for 2002-2007 gives full
weight to implementation of the Science Agenda, with
special emphasis on ‘freshwater and supporting ecosystems’ and
on ‘the ethics of science and technology’ as the absolute priorities
respectively of UNESCO’s science and social and human sciences
is in its clearing-house capacity that UNESCO has prepared the
present analytical report recommended by Budapest, in consultation
with its partners. Harnessing science to society is based
on information made available to UNESCO by Member States, United
Nations specialized agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental
international organizations, regional institutions, science
networks, centres of excellence and educational establishments.
Naturally, the report also covers UNESCO’s own activity.
science to society overviews developments during the two
and a half years following the World Conference on Science;
it provides a factual basis for assessing the real impact of
the Conference. It can be concluded that the Budapest Conference
was a worthwhile event; visibly, over the initial period of
follow-up, it has inspired many partners to adopt innovative
approaches to fostering science. There appears to exist a real
need – and an opportunity – to further develop a worldwide partnership
that has the potential to multiply the returns on the Conference.
the report envisages the possibility that UNESCO will launch
a comprehensive follow-up consultation with partners in 2004
(Budapest+5) in its capacity as clearing-house. A consultation
in 2004 would have the advantage of enabling partners to evaluate
collectively the returns on the Conference thus far as well
as identify any necessary readjustments to the follow-up strategy.
political commitment that governments agreed upon in Budapest
in 1999 must be sustained if the Conference is to make a lasting
difference. Harnessing science to society more effectively is
not something that can be achieved overnight. But we cannot
afford to let ourselves fall back into a ‘business as usual’
complacency. We must keep up the momentum and that means re-galvanizing
our efforts and our collaboration.
report, prefaced by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro
Matsuura, is now available on-line at: http://www.unesco.org/science/wcs/report_wcs.pdf
launches public–private partnership to ‘INSPIRE’ science vocation
December 2002 The Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Education
and Skills Secretary, Estelle Morris have launched a new partnership
between the Government, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK),
the Technology Colleges Trust (TCT)
and Imperial College London to boost science education in schools
applying to become Science Colleges under the Government’s Specialist
has committed up to £1 million over the next four years to funding
the scheme, which will be known as INSPIRE
(INnovative Scheme for Post-docs in Research and Education).
Under the programme post-doctoral science researchers (post-docs)
from Imperial College who have recently completed their PhDs
will spend around half their time in selected specialist science
or combined science and engineering schools. At the same time,
they will study towards a post-graduate teaching qualification.
at the special launch of the programme at No.10, Downing Street
last summer, Tony Blair gave his strong support to the specialist
schools programme and welcomed the partnership of industry,
government and higher education, ‘The Government is committed
to excellence in science education and I am delighted that GlaxoSmithKline,
one of our major science-based companies, and Imperial College
are supporting this important initiative. This partnership programme
will benefit not only the pupils in the new specialist science
schools but also the pupils in their partner schools.
children of today will be our teachers, our scientists and our
doctors tomorrow – by investing in the education of our children
now, we are investing in the future of our economy and society.
would like to see many more specialist schools. We are expanding
the number significantly up to 1000 by this September, and at
least 1500 by 2005 – half of all secondary schools.
1500 is only a staging post. Once it has been achieved, we will
advance decisively in extending the opportunity for more schools
to achieve specialist status. We want to see all schools that
are capable of becoming specialist doing so. We are also introducing
new specialisms such as science and engineering. INSPIRE will
give an enormous boost to the launch of these new specialisms."
£1 million commitment from GSK will support an initial four-year
pilot of INSPIRE. It is hoped that the project will involve
up to 15 schools in and around the M25 area.
and Skills Secretary, Estelle Morris said ‘This is a major landmark
in introducing a modern blend of practical and professional
skills into the classroom. Pupils will benefit from new ways
of teaching science and engineering through the cutting edge
scientific knowledge that the post-docs will bring to their
lessons and the post-docs will gain valuable practical experience
on the road to a teaching qualification through working with
high quality, experienced teachers. I believe the post-docs
will be inspiring role models helping to spark interest in science
as a career choice for pupils at the specialist schools and
other schools in their communities.’
speaking today at the event Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial
College London said, ‘INSPIRE offers a unique opportunity to
create partnerships between industry, higher education and schools.
I believe that the Imperial post-docs will act as excellent
role models and stimulate broader enthusiasm for science. Britain
has a successful high technology industry, which depends on
the flow of well-qualified scientists and engineers. INSPIRE
has been developed to increase the number of young people specialising
in post-16 science courses enabling them to pursue degrees in
chemistry, physics and engineering and ultimately a career in
Younger, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and
Community Partnerships at GSK commented, ‘GSK employs around
25,000 people in the UK and spends £2.6 billion each year on
research and development worldwide. Encouraging young people
to choose a career in science is fundamental to the continued
success of our business.’
2.4 of the Science
Agenda is devoted to Science education. ‘Governments
should accord the highest priority to improving science education
at all levels’, the section begins, going on to say that ‘steps
need to be taken to promote the professional development of
teachers and educators in the face of change and special efforts
should be made to address the lack of appropriately trained
science teachers and educators.
Science Agenda also encourages innovative approaches
to stimulating a vocation in science and defining new public–private
partnerships. Curricula relating to science and technology should
encourage a scientific approach to problem-solving’, paragraph
37 recommends. ‘University–industry cooperation should be promoted
to assist engineering education and continuing vocational education
and to enhance responsiveness to the needs of industry and support
from industry to the education sector.’
are currently four categories of specialist school: Technology,
Language, Arts and Sports Colleges. Four new specialisms became
operational from September 2002: Science, Engineering, Business
and Enterprise and Mathematics and Computing. Since October,
it has also been possible for certain specialisms to be combined,
for example Science and Engineering.
schools are maintained secondary schools that teach the full
national curriculum but place a particular emphasis on teaching
and learning in their chosen specialism within the Specialist
Schools Programme. Specialist schools must raise £50,000 in
private-sector sponsorship (approximately US$80,000) and draw
up a four-year development plan to raise standards, increase
provision and encourage take-up in their specialist subject(s).
must also have a community development plan which shows how
they will share the benefits of good practice, expertise and
resources with other schools named in the plan and with identified
groups within their wider community. The Government believes
that widening schools’ options in this way will mean they are
able to develop their individual strengths, promote innovation
and spread good practice throughout the whole school system.
further information, contact: email@example.com
celebrates its first year in promoting public communication of
December 2002 A group of Argentinian science journalists
and science communication experts from Villa Mercedes in San
Luis province have spent the past year promoting the public
communication of science and technology through their own association.
fledgling Asociación para la Comunicación de la
Ciencia y la Tecnología (ACPCT), founded in November
2001, has initiated projects to analyse the representation of
the sciences in the Latin American media (press, television
and radio); it has also studied science communication in local
and regional contexts. All of the projects have received sponsorship
is committed to fostering quality science journalism. One means
towards this end is science communication courses in universities,
which they plan to organize. Another is research. ACPCT has
begun researching science journalism in the region, as well
as public comprehension of science and the relations between
science journalism, science communication and education. The
ethical risks and social responsibility of science journalism
are another of its concerns.
the area of science popularisation, ACPCT is interacting with
non-profit organizations, state bodies, science departments,
universities and all other relevant institutions.
41 of the Science
Agenda stresses that ‘governments, international organizations
and relevant professional institutions should enhance or develop
programmes for the training of scientific journalists, communicators
and all those involved in increasing public awareness of science.’
Science Agenda recommends that an international programme
on promotion of scientific literacy and culture accessible to
all be considered in order to provide appropriate technology
and scientific inputs in an easily understandable form that
are conducive to the development of local communities.
authorities and funding institutions are urged to promote the
role of science museums and centres as important elements in
public education in science (para. 42).
is interested in exchanging experiences on common initiatives
within the large Ibero-American family.
further information, go to: CIENCIAXXII@yahoo.com.ar
workshop trains women to use ICTs in reporting on the science
SciDev.Net and UNESCO are
organizing a five-day training workshop on the use of information
and communications technologies (ICTs) - in particular the Internet
- to improve reporting on the science of HIV/AIDS. The workshop
will take place in Uganda in April 2003. The deadline for applications
is 31 December (see below).
workshop will target those who are (or would like to be) professionally
engaged in communicating HIV/AIDS information to the public
through print, radio or electronic means. There are 15 places,
all of which are reserved for women participants. All travel
and accommodation costs will be covered.
on Science urged partners to disseminate scientific
information as broadly as possible to foster knowledge and public
debate, including through the use of ICTs.
Moreover, paragraph 48 of the Science Agenda invites 'governments,
international organizations and relevant professional institutions
to enhance or develop programmes for the training of scientific
journalists, communicators and all those involved in increasing
public awareness of science.'
applications must be received, either electronically or by fax,
by 31 December 2002. Further information, as well as details
of the application procedure and an application form, may be
found at www.scidev.net/hivworkshop/advance.html
pledges to double science budget
November 2002 -
Brazilian president-elect Luis Inácio 'Lula' da Silva
has pledged to double spending on science and technology to
2% of gross domestic product by the end of his government's
term, with particular emphasis on increasing financial support
for basic research.
new government, which will take office in January, has also
promised to improve science education and to set up a national
science communication programme involving scientific institutions,
universities and museums. José Ribamar Ferreira, President
of the Brazilian Association of Science Centres and Museums,
is enthusiastic about the government's proposals on science
communication. 'There are several science communication activities
in Brazil, but these are fragmented with no linkage among individuals
and institutions responsible for these activities', he says.
'A national programme which has government support - both financially
and politically - will indeed be positive'.
who won last month's elections with 62% of the votes, has said
that politically sensitive issues - such as energy, nuclear
technology and genetic engineering - would be widely and democratically
discussed. He is also expected to encourage universities, research
institutions and technological companies and other stakeholders
to have a greater role in formulating science and technology
on Science called on governments to ensure stable funding
for public research (para. 14, Science
Agenda) and aim for high-quality scientific institutions
capable of providing research and training facilities in areas
of specific interest (para. 7). Paragraph 41 urges governments
to accord the highest priority to improving science education
at all levels, to raising public awareness of science and to
fostering its popularization The Science Agenda also
advocates putting in place adequate participatory mechanisms
to facilitate democratic debate on science policy choices (para.
November 2002 - It has been called 'blue gold'. Key to survival
and prosperity, shared water sources are frequent sources of
friction between neighbouring countries.
potential for conflict surrounding water issues prompted UNESCO's
International Hydrological Programme and Green Cross International,
an environmental non-governmental organization, to hold an international
conference on the prevention of water wars within and between
countries from 20 to 22 November.
Conflict to Cooperation in International Water Resources Management'
was held at the International Institute for Infrastructural,
Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (IHE)
in Delft (The Netherlands).
than 200 experts from around the world participated in the open
conference sessions, which enabled experts from diverse regions
to exchange perspectives on extremely sensitive issues, such
as major dam construction projects in India and Lesotho, and
tensions over shared water resources in the Middle East or in
the Volta River basin shared by Burkina Faso and Ghana.
session took a prospective look at the impacts of climate, social
and technological changes by focusing specifically on the Mekong
River basin, where recurrent flooding and other problems have
led to increased co-operation among states situated on the banks
of rivers. Another studied international security agreements
for shared basins, like that of the Lempa River, which crosses
into Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
In section 2.5 of the Science Agenda devoted to Science for
peace and conflict resolution, paragraph 52 calls for governments
and the private sector to invest in sectors of science and technology
directly addressing issues that are at the root of potential
conflicts, such as energy use, competition for resources, and
pollution of air, soil and water.
information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Science gets a boost
November 2002 Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris
has announced that Science Year, the Government initiative to
increase young people’s interest and engagement in science,
will be extended until July 2003.
making the announcement in July, Ms Morris said ‘Extending Science
Year until July 2003 will allow us to create a lasting legacy
of resources and sustainable projects. There is a tremendous
desire among schools, the science community, business and key
partners to build on its success. ‘
Year is a national follow-up activity to the World Conference
on Science. Launched in September 2001, Science Year has already
given more than £4 million in new science resources to schools,
including digital microscopes, electronic whiteboards and biotechnology
kits. It has also improved links with industry through the Science
and Engineering Ambassadors scheme.
Year aims to raise awareness of science among young people aged
10–19 years and their key influences: parents and teachers.
with teachers, industry and the Government, Science Year is
the launchpad for a wide range of activities, initiatives and
programmes delivered by local and national organisations.
Year seeks to highlight the many creative opportunities that
exist in the workplace today for young people with a science
qualification and the importance and impact that science has
on our everyday lives.
Year is managed by the National Endowment for Science, Technology
and the Arts (NESTA)
on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills, and involving
their key partners the Association for Science Education (ASE)
and the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA).
Year will continue to improve the profile and perception of
science,’ Ms Morris added, ‘involve communities in science and
strengthen and demonstrate links between schools, higher education
and industry. It will also continue to support work being done
to improve science teaching and learning in the early years
of secondary education and the aim to increase the uptake of
science in higher education and careers particularly for under-represented
groups, such as girls and minority ethnic groups.’
Mike Tomlinson, Director of Science Year said ‘Strategic partnerships
with organisations including the BA (British Association for
the Advancement of Science), ASE (Association for Science Education)
and Science Year ‘Friends’, have been a contributing factor
to the success of Science Year. These relationships have enabled
us to provide innovative equipment and resources to both primary
and secondary schools and we will continue to build new relationships
in the future.
I am delighted to announce that, following their sponsorship
of the Tomorrow’s World Roadshow Live, which is touring in celebration
of Science Year, we have made British Gas a Friend of Science
to the honour, Simon Waugh, Deputy Managing Director, British
Gas said, ‘We're absolutely delighted that British Gas are being
of Science Year' status. I believe it firmly underlines our
commitment to energy efficiency and in particular, our Think
Energy programme for schools, which we are continuing into the
forthcoming school year.’
about Science Year is available at www.scienceyear.com
States celebrate World Science Day
6 November 2002 - Worldwide, countries are preparing
to celebrate the first World
Science Day for Peace and Development on 10 November Events
include conferences scheduled in scientific institutions, public
debates on science with the participation of policy-makers,
special events in museums and science parks, activities for
school children and press briefings.
idea of a World Science Day was first proposed by countries
attending the World Conference on Science organized by UNESCO
and the International Council for Science (ICSU)
in Budapest (Hungary) in June 1999. Adopted by UNESCO three
months later and established as 10 November of each year, the
annual Day provides an opportunity to renew national and international
commitment to the cause of science for peace and development
and to promote responsible use of scientific knowledge in the
service of society.
UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, two roundtables are being organized
to mark the Day. These will bring together scientific figures,
Ministers of Science and Technology and people involved in building
science awareness or a science culture. One will be on Science
for Peace and Development, the other on Science for Peace; the
latter is being co-organized by the US
National Academy of Sciences, represented by Dr Farouk El
Baz. Other participants include Dr Torsten Weisel, Nobel Prize
for Physiology or Medicine in 1981 and Chair of the Human Rights
Committee at the US National Academy of Sciences, Professor
Menahem Yaari of the Centre for the Study of Rationality at
the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem (Israel) and Dr Sari Nusseibeh of the Palestine
Academy for Science and Technology.
same day, an exhibition on Art and Science will be inaugurated
at UNESCO Paris Headquarters. The exhibition will show paintings
by Denis Fadier and photographs by mathematician Jean-François
about events around the world and at UNESCO.