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Moving towards a European research space

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10 September 2001 - Europe will be inching closer to a common research space this month when major international, national and regional organizations meet in Kiev (Ukraine) to define a common approach to fostering regional and sub-regional cooperation in science and technology.

From 22 to 25 September 2001, the International Association of Academies of Sciences (IAAS) is convening an International Symposium on The Role of International Organizations in the Development of a Common European Scientific–Technological Space as a follow-up activity to the World Conference on Science. The IAAS is an umbrella organization for the Academies of Sciences of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as some other national and international scientific institutions.

The Symposium will take up where a Workshop of Experts left off on 16 May 2000. The two-day Workshop had served as a forum for discussion among pre-accession Central and Eastern European countries and the EUROPOLIS Project Group on European Science and Technology Policy and the Enlargement of the European Union. Organized in Venice (Italy) by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Europe (ROSTE), the Workshop was also planned within the framework of follow-up to the World Conference on Science.

The creation of a European research space is a gradual process but one that is gathering momentum. In January 2000, the European Commission presented its related policy initiative entitled ‘Towards a European Research Area’. In the words of Achilleas Mitsos of the Research Directorate-General, this initiative ‘addresses many of the issues raised by the World Conference on Science’.

On 21 February 2001, the European Commission adopted the proposal for the European Union’s new Research and Technological Development Framework Programme covering 2002-2006. The Programme is the main tool for the implementation of the European Research Area Initiative.

The Kiev meeting is being organized under the auspices of UNESCO and in close cooperation with ROSTE. It is being hosted by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Representatives of the major international, regional and national organizations will be participating. These include the Council of Europe, European Commission, INTAS, the Scientific Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Orgnaization (NATO), EUROSCIENCE, ALLEA, Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (JINR), National Academies of Sciences, National Science Funds and Foundations and research centres from some twenty European countries.

Additional information on the Symposium may be obtained from the Center for Scientific and Technological Potential and Science History Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which is co-ordinating preparations for the Symposium. Write to: steps@carrier.kiev.ua

First Engineering Institution of Cambodia founded

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7 September 2001 - ‘Indispensable’ is how the UNESCO Jakarta Office describes the recent establishment of the first engineering institution in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Concerned that the least developed countries in Asia not be left on the sidelines of development, the UNESCO Jakarta Office has strongly supported the establishment of the Engineering Institution of Cambodia (EIC).

The EIC was formally recognized by the Ministry of the Interior of the Royal Government of Cambodia in October 2000. The International Labour Organization (ILO) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, assisted the EIC in preparing the legal documents for registration.

H.E. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, opened the First General Assembly of EIC in Phnom Penh on 9–10 February 2001.

The founding of the EIC implements the World Conference on Science recommendation that national policies ‘be adopted that imply consistent and long-term support for S&T, in order to ensure the strengthening of the human resource base, establishment of scientific institutions, improvement and upgrading of science education, integration of science into the national culture, development of infrastructures and promotion of technology and innovation capacities (para.55, Science Agenda).’

The EIC will be central to enhancing and maintaining a professional level of engineering within the country and to establishing relations with other national and international organizations, such as the Federation of Engineering Institutions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific (FEISEAP), ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organizations (AFEO), ILO and UNESCO.

The EIC is currently preparing to join, as a representative institution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, both FEISEAP and AFEO.

The first president of the EIC has been nominated by the Cambodian National Commission for UNESCO to attend, as an observer, Executive Committee meetings of FEISEAP, as a means of sharing information and experience.

The UNESCO Jakarta Office is continuing to encourage those countries in the region which have not yet done so to recognize appropriate organizations on their soil as their own national engineering institutions.

Source: UNESCO Jakarta Office: m.honda@unesco.org

New European partnership fosters research and education
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3 September 2001 - Seven of Europe’s leading international research organizations have joined forces to promote and co-ordinate quality European research and foster public understanding of science.

The birth of EIROFORUM was announced on 23 May 2001 by the European Space Agency (ESA), which initiated the project.

ESA’s partners in this endeavour are the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), European Southern Observatory (ESO), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) and the French Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL). The current EIROFORUM chairperson is Dr Catherine Cesarsky of ESO.

EIROFORUM plans to mobilize the network’s substantial combined expertise in basic research and in the management of large international projects for the benefit of European research and development.

One of its tasks will be to simplify high-level interactions with the European Commission and facilitate an effective response to specific requests for expert advice in its areas of expertise.

It also plans to take an active part in examining promising research directions and priorities, in particular in relation to new large-scale research infrastructure. Wherever feasible, it will optimize the use of resources by sharing relevant developments.

EIROFORUM will also have an ‘outreaching’ arm which will co-ordinate such activities as technology transfer and fostering of public understanding of science.

It is in the area of education that EIROFORUM has been most active to date. Even before the EIROFORUM Charter was formally adopted, the group organized a Europe-wide event entitled ‘Physics on Stage’ in November 2000. Over 400 physics teachers from 22 European countries attended the event, which was hosted by CERN (Switzerland).

The twin goals of ‘Physics on Stage’ were to attract students to physics and to improve physics teaching at elementary and secondary level, in order to raise the scientific literacy of the general public.

A follow-on ‘Physics on Stage’ is being hosted by the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the spring of 2002.

In November 2001, EIROFORUM member organizations are sponsoring a similar event of even wider general interest, on the theme of Life in the Universe. The event will be hosted by CERN and will involve the participation of young people selected through a competition.

ESA likes to think of itself more as a ‘facilitator of science’ rather than a real actor in the conduct of science, although it does have some internal research activities. For ESA’s Science Advisor, Martin Huber, who attended the World Conference on Science, EIROFORUM constitutes ‘an important partnership serving science’.

For further information, contact: franco.bonacina@esa.int

Fifteen science centres to spring up in Pakistan
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27 August 2001 - Conscious of the need to turn young and old into ‘science-minded’ citizens, the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) is planning to develop 15 science centres or museums across the country.

The Government is committed to spreading awareness among the Pakistani population of the role science and technology (S&T) play in improving the quality of life and their impact on economic development. Since informal education through science centres and museums helps to develop a science culture and awaken latent curiosity among students, the PSF is favouring this approach to popularizing science as part of follow-up to the World Conference on Science. The science centres will also be expected to supplement teaching in the biological and physical sciences at primary and secondary levels.

Paragraph 41 of the Science Agenda advises Governments to ‘accord the highest priority to improving science education at all levels, with particular attention to ... raising public awareness of science and fostering its popularization.’ Paragraph 49 urges ‘national authorities and funding institutions to promote the role of science museums and centres as important elements in public education in science.’

Pakistan’s new science centres will be funded jointly by public/private organizations, and by international funding agencies. The first is due to open in Faisalabad. It will display exhibits in the basic sciences, geology and informatics, with emphasis on the application to research to daily life. Science films will also be screened for visitors.

A number of science caravans – or mobile science exhibitions – will bring science to rural areas. When not operating in these areas, the caravan exhibits will be displayed at the Faisalabad science centre.

Using the portable planetaria acquired by the PSF, the Faisalabad centre will offer planetarium shows to schools and other institutions.

The centre will also provide an information service. There are a large number of organizations conducting research and development in the city of Faisalabad, which also hosts a textile industry among others. There are also several educational institutions, including the University of Agriculture and a Medical College. A sub-centre of the nationwide Pakistan Scientific and Technological Centre (PASTIC) housed in the Faisalabad centre will collect and feed back information to all bodies involved in S&T throughout the city.

Source: Pakistan National Commission for UNESCO: arghazi@comsats.net.pk

Brazil promoting environmental education for all

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24 August 2001
- Brazil’s new National Programme of Environmental Education is the type of broadly accessible ‘mega-project’ the World Conference on Science encouraged.

‘Progress in science’, the Declaration states, ‘requires various types of cooperation at and between the intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental levels, such as ... international agreements for the joint promotion, evaluation and funding of mega-projects and broad access to them (para. 36).

The National Programme of Environmental Education is one such mega-project. This ambitious Programme has three main aims: to establish facilities and decentralized institutions promoting environmental education; further formal and informal environmental education; and seize the opportunities provided by modern information and communication technologies to exchange experiences and ideas on sustainable practices.

So far, the programme has succeeded in mobilizing state institutions for the formalization of 27 Inter-institutional Commissions of Environmental Education, one for each unit of the federation.

It is also collaborating on the organization of State Forums of Environmental Education and assisting in the elaboration and implementation of 27 State Programmes of Environmental Education and the follow-up to these.

The Programme is supporting the setting-up of ‘State Poles’ with their respective regional nucleus and articulation to the Inter-institutional and State Commissions, as well as the dissemination of sustainable practices developed by these Poles.

Recalling the recommendation in paragraph 44 of the Science Agenda that educational institutions ‘encourage the contribution of students to decision-making concerning education and research’, the Programme plans to structure educational, capacity-building and ‘protectors of life’ campaigns, edit educational publications and create a discussion forum on the Internet for these ‘protectors of life’.

Destined for both the classroom and distance learning are class plans and capacitating courses in environmental education which the Programme will conceive and execute itself.

At the tertiary level, the Programme will be collaborating in the conception and planning of curricula as for masters and doctorate courses in environmental education.

That the Science Agenda should invite UNESCO to promote the establishment of a freely accessible virtual library on sustainable technologies (para. 35) has inspired the Programme to move towards a Brazilian Information System in Environmental Education and Sustainable Practices as a means of exchanging experiences and ideas.

The Programme is currently identifying needs and elaborating the terms of reference for a consultancy to construct and implement the System.

Once the System is up and running, the Programme will promote its integration in each State across the country to ensure common information strategies on environmental education.

The Programme will also conceive and define the contents, themes, periodicity and target-audience of an Electronic Bulletin. It will design and edit both the pilot-edition and subsequent editions of the Bulletin.

As Jorge Werthein, UNESCO’s Representative in Brazil, puts it, ‘The National Programme on Environmental Education is related to the follow-up of the WCS in that it promotes the dissemination of scientific information and the benefits of science’.

Source: UNESCO Brasilia Office: UHRR7@unesco.org

Turkey establishes National Earthquake Council  

22 August 2001
- The memory of two devastating earthquakes in 1999 has led the Government of Turkey to found the National Earthquake Council.

An independent advisory body operating under the auspices of the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, the National Earthquake Council is responsible for providing the public with factual information on earthquake-related issues and for specifying priority areas for earthquake-related research in relation to the country’s needs and priorities.

Composed of twenty experts, the Council advises the executive authorities on earthquake-related policy and strategy issues and comments on any ethical problems which may arise.

A year after it its inception, the Council has already begun preparation of a comprehensive report on a Seismic Risk Mitigation Strategy for Turkey. The report lists actions to be taken to mitigate the earthquake hazard and briefly explains the basic principles behind each. The measures advocated examine the structural, legal, administrative, social, educational and economic aspects of each problem.

The Government of Turkey considers the Council as part of national follow-up to the World Conference on Science, which identified natural hazards as being one of the areas requiring special attention in environmental research at the national, regional and international levels. Para.29, Science Agenda).

The Agenda recommends that all countries ‘emphasize capacity-building in vulnerability and risk assessment, early warning of both short-lived natural disasters and long-term hazards of environmental change, improved preparedness, adaptation, mitigation of their effects and integration of disaster management into national development planning.’

‘It is important, however, to bear in mind’ paragraph 34 goes on to say, ‘that we live in a complex world with an inherent uncertainty about long-term trends. Decision-makers must take this into account and therefore encourage the development of new forecasting and monitoring strategies. The precautionary principle is an important guiding principle in handling inevitable scientific uncertainty, especially in situations of potentially irreversible or catastrophic impacts.’

Source: Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO

Pakistan accords high priority to information technology
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20 August 2001
- Pakistan is launching two new institutes as part of its National Information Technology Policy and Action Plan.

Adopted in August 2000, the Plan provides an overall policy framework for the development of information technology across the country. The Plan focuses on Human Resource Development, Infrastructure Development, Software and Hardware Industry Development, Interent, Information Technology Promotion and Awareness and Legislation.

A feasibility study for the Virtual Information Technology Institute (VITU) and South Institute of Information Technology (SIIT) was conducted by three United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) consultants in November 2000.

The VITU will begin leasing an existing building from the Government of Punjab in 2001. The study estimates that some 2000 students will enrol in the first year and that this number will mushroom to nearly 100,000 five years later.

At a total cost of US$21 million, the VITU and SIIT form the cornerstone of the government’s ‘smart learning nation development strategy’. The key to the strategy is to ‘organize institutions and the population at large to take advantage of the technology now available to unleash and nurture the talent in the full population, not just a mostly urban elite (Feasibility Study, page 15).’

The Study goes on to say that ‘There are several current projects under way to bring communications in general and Internet connectivitity in particular to a major segment of the population.... (page 16). It is intended that ‘information technology serve as catalytic engine of development, spurring productivity increases in other areas of the economy’.

‘VITU will ... encourage business/academic "fusion" by bringing together the various stakeholders (producers, educators, consumers and employers) to focus on their common objectives (page 15).’

Source: Pakistan National Commission for UNESCO: arghazi@comsats.net.pk

Will the information economy be a jobs economy?

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16 August 2001
- Will the information economy generate employment? This is the question the International Labour Office (ILO) asks in its World Employment Report 2001 on the theme of life at work in the information economy.

As Dominique Peccoud, Special Adviser in the ILO’s Bureau for External Relations and Partnerships explains, ‘the content of this year’s report is highly relevant and closely connected to Chapter II of the Science Agenda.

‘The report insists on the need to involve highly skilled people worldwide in the information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their connected basic underlining sciences’, she observes. ‘They are pervasive technologies that can foster or hinder all other scientific developments’.

The ILO estimates that some 160 million workers are unemployed today, most of them first-time jobseekers. Of these, about 50 million are to be found in the industrialized countries, including Central and Eastern Europe.

‘About 500 million workers are unable to earn enough to keep their families above the US$1 a day poverty line. These live almost entirely in the developing world. And even among the non-poor, many workers lack basic job and income security.’ The ILO predicts that the numbers in this group will grow in many parts of the world.

For the authors of the report, ‘the most serious problem facing the labour force in coming decades will be the loss of human capital caused by HIV infection. ‘Losses are disproportionately high among skilled, professional and managerial workers’ they note. ‘The epidemic will not only reduce the stock of such workers, but also the capacity to maintain future flows of trained people.’

As to whether or not the global employment situation will improve, this will be essentially dependent on the world economy continuing to expand.

The report gives some sobering statistics on Internet access. ‘Barely 6% of the world's people have ever logged onto the Internet’ it notes, ‘and 85–90% of them live in the industrialized countries.’

According to the authors, ‘the level of national income is strongly related to ICT diffusion and is clearly the distinguishing feature of the divide between industrialized and developing countries. The cost and availability of telecommunications determines the extent to which the Internet is used and per capita access costs are most often higher in poorer countries. Coercive governments limit the extent to which information is exchanged and evidence shows a higher level of Internet usage where political and civil freedoms exist.’

The report is guardedly optimistic about the chances for employment growth where ICT is most in use. ‘Productivity growth is greatest in the core ICT sector itself’ it acknowledges, ‘where, in manufacturing, it has resulted in stunning increases in output with nevertheless declining employment. But the employment decline in manufacturing has been more than offset by the rapid growth of new markets and new employment in the service sector, with business and producer services and social services (health, education) claiming the highest share of growth.’

The report cites evidence showing that countries recording the greatest growth in ‘total factor productivity’ in the 1990s are ‘those where ICT has been used most widely in the economy. These are also the countries in which employment has grown the most’, the report goes on to say. ‘Employment ratios are highest in those countries where the use of ICT is most widespread [and] unemployment has declined most in the small number of countries where Internet use is most widespread, such as Denmark, Finland and Ireland. It is too early to conclude, but there are hopeful signs that the effect of ICT on employment is positive.’

Use of ICTs has created new patterns of job creation and job loss. Despite evidence of job creation, it is clear to the report’s authors ‘that jobs will also be lost through three main channels: obsolescence, automation, and "disintermediation".’

‘The highest rates of job creation, job destruction and job switching are occuring’, according to the authors, ‘among the most technologically innovative firms in sectors where overall employment is growing.’

Source: ILO. Extracts from ‘World Employment Report 2001: life at work in the information economy (ILO, 2001).

Japan’s Basic Plan for S&T to 2005 inspired by Budapest
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10 August 2001 -
Japan’s Basic Plan for Science and Technology (S&T) for the next five years takes its inspiration from the World Conference on Science.

Adopted by Parliament on 30 March 2001, the Basic Plan for 2001–2005 makes reference to key areas of the Declaration and Science Agenda, including international cooperation on global issues, ethics in S&T and public–private partnerships in industry.

Chapter One, for example, underscores the need for the ‘unified wisdom’ of the natural, social and human sciences to treat bioethics, the digital divide and environmental issues, among others. It states that S&T is indispensable for realizing worldwide sustainable develoment and for solving global issues such as world population control, freshwater management, food and energy security, global warming and the prevention of infectious diseases.

The Basic Plan speaks of ‘elevating the ethics consciousness of researchers and engineers’, so that they ‘recognize their responsibility to society and to the status of their field in society’. Academic societies are invited to draw up moral guidelines and to introduce moral issues into engineer certification and the university curricula. Accountability is to become a byword in institutes and among researchers, who are encouraged to foster discussion on latest developments in research through public exhibitions, open lectures and the use of Internet.

The fields of bioengineering and information technology are cited as examples of areas where a social consensus and international harmonization will be necessary to ensure the dignity of human beings.

The Council for Science and Technology Policy (CSTP), which is to implement the Basic Plan, is to act not only as a ‘control tower’ but also as a think tank on the dual nature of S&T – with its positive and negative effects. The Plan invites the CSTP to attach greater importance to ethics and social responsibility, in recognition of the fact that ‘science is for and in society’.

The Basic Plan is turned resolutely towards the outside world. Goals include increasing the citation rate of Japanese scientific papers, generating Nobel laureates and providing Centres of Excellence capable of attracting foreign researchers.

As part of its efforts to internationalize domestic science, Japan will continue to propose and conduct international cooperative projects on global issues and fundamental research and will enhance the dissemination of information around the world.

Three top priorities are identified: the promotion of fundamental research; the allocation of substantial resources to the four strategic areas of research and development (R&D), namely the life sciences, information technology, environmental research, nanotechnology and materials; and support for emerging fields, such as bio-informatics, systems-biology and nano-biology. Social infrastructure is catalogued among the secondary priorities, as are energy, manufacturing and exploration.

To stimulate excellence, the Basic Plan outlines measures which place researchers at the heart of reform. Measures advocated include doubling competitive research funds and introducing 30% of indirect costs, and improving mobility by encouraging fixed-term appointments and recruitment on an apply-and-review basis. The system of resource allocation will be reviewed within the evaluation system. Young researchers will be encouraged to be independent through a greater allotment of special funds and better conditions for associate professors and research assistants. Career paths will be widened and conditions improved for foreign researchers and female researchers (see also WCS Newsletter of 2 May 2001).

Universities will be encouraged to turn out scientists and engineers with ‘creativity, originality and a broad outlook’. External experts will be called upon to evaluate the universities and the findings will be made public. The government will also seek to stimulate a vocation in science and engineering from the primary level upwards.

Cooperation between industry, academia and the government is also to be re-examined to foster technology transfer, including through an ‘exclusive and transferable patent system’.

In infrastructure development, the Basic Plan foresees maintenance and improvement of world-class facilities in research institutes and universities. Information will circulate across a higly sophisticated LAN and information network. Intellectual property rights will be fine-tuned to encourage international standardization.

And last but not least, the manufacturing sector is to be doted with a database of failures and success stories.

Source : Japanese National Commission for UNESCO: jpnnatcom@mext.go.jp

SEREAD sets out to foster ‘ocean observation for all’

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6 August 2001
- This month, a steering committee will be undertaking a comprehensive review of progress over the first six months of SEREAD, a new project designed to generate substantial knowledge, awareness and discussion among Pacific island students, teachers and communities of global ocean observing systems, climate change, sea-level rise, global warming and the local impacts of these dynamics.

SEREAD stands for Scientific Educational Resources and Experience Associated with the Deployment of Argo Drifting Floats in the South Pacific Ocean.

‘Argo’ refers to a new global inter-agency programme of the same name, which gathers data from the world’s oceans in order to better model and predict weather and climate.

Once fully operational, Argo will be composed of a global array of 3,000 free-drifting profiling floats measuring temperature and salinity in the upper 2,000 metres of the ocean. This network of profiling floats allows continuous monitoring of the ocean, with data being relayed periodically via satellite from each float and made available to researchers and the public within hours of transmission.

The launching of the Argo programme offers a wealth of educational opportunities in the Pacific region and will serve as the departure point for SEREAD, which is essentially a capacity-building project.

The World Conference on Science recognized that, for a country to have the capacity to provide for the basic needs of its population, science and technology education is a strategic necessity. As part of this education, the Science Agenda recommends that students ‘learn to solve specific problems and to address the needs of society by utilizing scientific and technological knowledge and skills (para. 24)

SEREAD aims to make it possible for Pacific island secondary school pupils to ‘adopt an Argo float’ launched in the vicinity of their respective countries and to track the data transmitted by that float in classroom sessions using regionally-specific educational materials developed by SEREAD with technical support from the project’s partner organizations.

An interagency project, SEREAD combines the active contribution of a wide range of organizations, including the IOC Regional Programme Office in Perth, Western Australia; International Ocean Institute Headquarters (IOI) and IOI-PI at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji; New Zealand Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), UNESCO’s Regional Office for the Pacific States in Apia, Samoa; South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC); National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO).

The SEREAD steering committee will be using this month’s meeting to plan the further development and consolidation of SEREAD.

A project coordinator has been appointed since the committee first met at the beginning of the year and work has begun on identifying partner countries and institutions in the region.

As Hans Thulstrup in UNESCO’s Apia Office puts it, ‘It is early days yet, but expect to hear more from SEREAD in the months to come!’

Source: Hans Thulstrup: hans@unesco.org.ws

Call for papers for Southeast European Conference on Science for Peace and Development
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2 August 2001 - The deadline of 20 August 2001 has been fixed for the submission of proposals for papers to an international conference on Science for Peace and Development being held in Maribor (Slovenia) on 4-6 October 2001.

Within the framework of follow-up to Budapest, the Conference will aim to foster understanding of the role played by regional scientific cooperation in Southeast Europe in creating the conditions for socio-economic and political stability in a sub-region rocked by conflict in recent years.

The Conference will examine the development of formal and informal networks of scientists and intellectual communities in the sub-region, with special focus on the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe concerning Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the FR Yugoslavia and Macedonia.

The Conference is organized jointly by the Austrian Institute of East and Southeast European Studies (Vienna, Ljubljana), University of Maribor, International League of Humanists (Sarajevo), Slovenian Science Foundation (Ljubljana) and Danube Rector’s Conference.

The organizers expect the Conference to ‘contribute to the further development of major ideas and recommendations of the World Conference on Science’ ....and ‘to important initiatives and programmes of the European Union in the field of regional and sub-regional intellectual cooperation aimed at European integration of the South East European states.’

Experts interested in proposing a paper should submit an abstract to Miroslav Polzer, Director of the Austrian Science and Research Liaison Office in Ljubljana by 20 August 2001.

A programme committee will select papers on the basis of the scientific quality of proposals, the relevance of the topic for the Conference aims and with slight positive discrimination in favour of women and young researchers.

The October Conference is placed under the auspices of UNESCO’s regional office in Venice (Italy) and the Slovene National Commission for UNESCO, which are also providing financial support.

For further information – or to submit papers – contact miro.polzer@uni-lj.si

Highly trained personnel key to attracting foreign investment

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30 July 2001
- A workshop on ‘Upgrading absorptive capacities of domestic firms and institutions’ in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has reaffirmed that well-trained personnel are a country’s trump card when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).

One logical outcome of the workshop, organized in Budapest (Hungary) from 7 to 11 March 2001 by the Centre for Innovation Policy Research and Education for Central and Eastern Europe (CIPRE) has thus been a regional mentor programme.

The CIPRE will be launching the mentor programme with a three-day seminar from 8 to 10 November 2001. High-ranking officials will serve as mentors for young and mid-career national-level and regional-level policy-makers and administrators who will be involved in subsequent CIPRE training seminars.

Mentor seminars will concentrate on such topics as institutional mechanisms for policy-making, the use of S&T indicators by policy-makers, evaluation of S&T programmes, technology and risk assessment and foresight.

Several countries, including Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, have already nominated national contact points who will help CIPRE to identify the proper candidates for mentor and mid-career training seminars.

The provisional date for the first mid-career training seminar is 14–25 January 2002. It will look at the changing role of national governments in policy-making in the age of globalization and regionalization.

By forging new linkages among East and West Europeans and deepening network activities between Western Europe and the CEE, the March workshop has breathed life into the fledgling CIPRE established jointly by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Hungarian IKU Innovation Research Centre.

The workshop provided a forum for sharing experiences in shaping science policy in the USA and the CEE and for examining ways of improving the capacity of CEE businesses to capture knowledge flows to make them competitive on the world market.

Of the 51 participants, one-third came from each of Western Europe and the CEE, two from the USA and the remainder from Hungary. Research organizations and universities made up two-thirds of participants and governmental bodies one-fifth, with the business sector being represented by four private corporations.

The AAAS representative explained that the federal budget was the major policy-making arena in the USA. The budget served both as a planning and priority-setting mechanism and as a management tool. As the amount of R&D in the federal budget had grown (it exceeded $90 billion in 2001), the AAAS and other organisations representing the scientific community had become more involved in analysing the contents of the budget, in engaging in discussions on its priorities and in seeking to influence budget debates and outcomes, despite the fact that they had no official, statutory role in this process.

Factors identified at the workshop for determining absorptiveness and innovation output included licensing, technological partnerships, and – participants highlighted this – investment in human resources (specialised employees, personnel training and stimulation). Capabilities in these areas pointed to a country’s ability to assimilate and exploit international knowledge spillovers mainly in the form of incoming FDI.

TEMIC Telefunken Hungary Ltd, a Hungarian-German joint venture company in the machinery industry, was among those who stressed the need for highly trained personnel to attract FDI; a sentiment echoed by the speaker from the European Union (EU) Research Directorate, for whom investing in learning through research and developmpent (R&D) and training was a crucial step in accessing the capital market.

In an exchange of experiences on transforming and restructuring their respective R&D systems, CEE countries cited accelerated international diffusion as the basis for making their R&D systems competitive. One speaker stressed the importance of efficient use of R&D funds, another the necessity of a stable macro-economic environment and transparency. A third focused on the role of venture capital as the motor of technological development and innovation, although capital flows were hampered by the dearth of firms involved in venture capital investments and the reluctance of sponsors to invest in start-up companies.

Forward-looking, a number of speakers even hazarded predictions. One anticipated that the technological specialization of foreign-owned affiliates in each region would become more closely related to the regional indigenous specialization pattern.

Another predicted that the European Research Area would make the EU the most cognitive knowledge-based economy in the world.

Topics discussed for future CEE–EU joint research activities included the socio-economic impact of FDI, university–industry–government co-operation, promoting knowledge flows through mobility and migration of personnel, the public role in R&D budgeting and the main features and impact of technology parks and centres of excellence.

The March workshop was co-financed by UNESCO, the EU, Hungarian Ministry of Education and the Joint Hungarian-American S&T Foundation.

For further information: contact Dr Annamária Inzelt, Director, IKU Innovation Research Centre: annamaria.inzelt@iku.bke.hu

Morocco to double research funding by 2010 (version française)
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27 July 2001 - The Moroccan government has set itself the target of devoting 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) to research and development (R&D) by 2010.

This represents more than double the 0.4% share of national income being invested in R&D today and three times that invested in 1998 (0.3%).

This increase in funding is part and parcel of a comprehensive strategy to make R&D a national priority and key factor of development for the country over coming years.

Among the ambitious projects outlined in the Five-Year Plan for 2000-2004 are the launching of a Moroccan Institute of Scientific and Technical Information and the setting-up of centres and laboratories in the fields of water and energy. Fundamental research is also to benefit from active government support.

An inter-university informatic network devoted to education, training and research will be set up under the name of MARWAN (Morocco Wide Area Network).

The government also plans to create an Institute for the Study and Research on Aromatic and Medicinal Plants and a centre for Saharian research. Research laboratories will be equipped with up-to-the minute technology and support extended to research in the social and human sciences.

The fruit of a broad national consultation, six thematic areas for research figure in the Five-Year Plan: improving the quality of life; knowledge, preservation and enhancement of natural resources; socio-economic and cultural development; information technologies; agriculture in adverse conditions; and business innovation and competitivity. Some 104 projects were approved for funding out of a total of 340 in 2000 and a further 412 submissions are being assessed this year.

As a means of facilitating university-industry cooperation, an interface is being put in place in six Moroccan universities and in other institutions of higher education. The government is training experts in industrial engineering and is establishing a Moroccan network of technology incubators. Over the next three years, some 300 businesses will be encouraged to modernize their installations and refresh their savoir faire.

As part of the government's restructuring plans to improve coordination of research, a government body will be set up for scientific research and a permanent interministerial committee constituted to advise the government on R&D.

The National Centre for Coordination and Planning of Scientific and Technological Research (Centre national de coordination et de planification de la recherche scientifique et technique, CNCPRST) is to be replaced by the National Centre for Scientific and Technological Research (Centre national de recherche scientifique et technique, CNRST) and the government is setting up a not-for-profit body composed of experts from the public and private sectors to further research and training.

Source: Ministry for Scientific Research: hatimi@enssup.gov.ma

Kuwait fostering flow of scientific information to population
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24 July 2001 - Kuwait is moving to enhance the flow of scientific information to society in its Fifth Strategic Plan for 2001 onwards.

The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) plans to intensify periodic mass-media activities on achievements and events in research. It will upgrade Science & Technology, a magazine in Arabic destined for the general public, and extend circulation beyond Kuwait's borders.

It also plans to organize visits to KISR's facilities and to publish and distribute books relevant to its work in marine science and fisheries, arid-land agriculture and the desert environment, among other fields.

The Government of Kuwait established the KISR in 1967. The main government arm for applied research and technology transfer, the KISR acts as a technical consultant and develops human resources in addition to conducting research and development (R&D).

In its Fifth Strategic Plan, the KISR has defined five priority programme research areas: Petroleum Resources; Water Resources, Food Resources and Agriculture, Environment and Urbanization, and Techno-economics. The Plan also strengthens the programme for human resources development through training.

Source: Kuwait National Commission for UNESCO: ncunesco@KEMS.NET

MAB re-orients programmes to reflect Budapest agenda
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18 July 2001 - Training and indigenous knowledge systems are to be paid greater attention in future by UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme, in response to the recommendations of the World Conference on Science.

So decided MAB's International Coordinating Council at its November 2000 meeting, during which it also identified the World Network of Biosphere Reserves - 394 in 94 countries - as the principal terrain for follow-up.

As follow-up to the World Conference on Science, MAB and the Convention on Biological Diversity are launching jointly a new global initiative on biological diversity education, training and public awareness-building. A consultative working group of experts has already met twice, in Paris (France) in July 2000 and in Bergen (Norway) in November 2000.

Conscious that 'young scientists should be provided with a knowledge and an understanding of social issues, and a capacity to move outside their specific field of specialization' (para. 69, Science Agenda), a number of countries have begun establishing national awards as an extension of the MAB Young Scientists Awards Programme set up in 1989 by UNESCO. A MAB Certificate for Young Researchers and Environmental Managers in Indonesia was launched in 2000 by a triad composed of UNESCO's Jakarta Office, the Indonesian National Committee for the MAB Programme and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

The MAB Certificate targets young scientists working in the fields of management and development of natural resources or in conservation who have forged ties with the local population in the course of their work.

At a time of rapid social change, the project strives to raise environmental awareness and to build the capacity of young scientists and environmental managers to make sustainable use of biological diversity and conservation. For the second edition of this annual award in April 2001, five Certificates were issued after a competitive selection process.

In line with the recommendation that governments 'support cooperation between holders of traditional knowledge and scientists to explore the relationships between different knowledge systems and to foster interlinkages of mutual benefit' (para. 87, Science Agenda), studies have been undertaken recently on local and traditional knowledge and its interaction with modern scientific understanding.

Topics explored at the sites of Pozuelos (Argentina), Pantanal (Brazil), Dja (Cameroon), Xishuangbanna (China), Cevennes (France) and Nilgiri (India) include a comparison of traditional and scientific knowledge of limnological processes and the revival of land-use practices and their use in generating employment possibilities for young people.

A priority over the next two years of the People and Plants initiative implemented by UNESCO, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew (UK) will be to develop and advocate 'best practices' in such areas as wood carving, sustainable use of Himalayan medicinals and people/park relations. Field demonstration sites will be set up similar to the one in Dolpo (Nepal) for medicinal plants.

The Science Agenda called upon governmental and non-governmental organizations to sustain traditional knowledge systems through active support to the societies that are keepers and developers of this knowledge, their ways of life, their languages, their social organization and the environments in which they live, and fully recognize the contribution of women as repositories of a large part of traditional knowledge' (para. 86).

MAB is encouraging gender-related activities in biosphere reserves and other field project sites. In southwestern Uganda, as part of the People and Plants initiative, MAB is either launching or consolidating work on traditional healers and traditional medicinal plants for childbirth and early childcare.

One example of sites where MAB is promoting income-generating and livelihood-boosting schemes for women is the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve (Morocco) where MAB is backstopping the Union of Women's Cooperatives for the Production and Marketing of Biological Argan Oil and Agricultural Products.

For further information, contact mab@unesco.org or jakarta@unesco.org

Cyber-education at the fingertips of Qatar's visually impaired
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13 July 2001 - A new software enables the visually impaired to use Microsoft Office 2000 and read text from the Internet. And it can be adapted to any language spoken around the world.

The software has been developed by Medianet Consulting, a Paris-based company, using Alva 544 Satellite Braille Display equipment from the Netherlands, which reproduces text matter from the Internet.

The aim is to integrate the visually impaired into society through education. A fine example of research of social relevance, the software should remove one barrier to learning for this disadvantaged group (paras 56 and 91 of Science Agenda).

The software has been adapted to Arabic for a pilot project being conducted at the Al-Noor Institute in Doha (Qatar). The scheme is financed by donations from the Commercial Bank of Qatar ($50,000) and from Agfund ($50,000), a special fund set up by Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to support the work of United Nations development agencies.

The first stage of the project has consisted in the equipping of an electronic laboratory within the Al-Noor Institute under the supervision of UNESCO (Mohamed Miloudi from UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and A. Bubtana and Gilan Elgewely from UNESCO's Doha Office are co-ordinating the project).

The laboratory houses four personal computers linked to a local area network with Internet and Intranet access. Drs Miloudi and Meroune from UNESCO Headquarters in Paris are installing the system in Doha and will be training eight of the Institute's trainers on how to use it. Dr Meroune is himself visually impaired.

The Al-Noor Institute, which provides free tuition, currently caters to the needs of 105 students, half of whom are visually impaired and the remainder with poor vision. Students range from children of 3 years to adults of 45 years.

Governments and educational institutions were called upon in the Science Agenda to 'identify and eliminate, from the early learning stages on, educational practices that have a discriminatory effect, so as to increase the successful participation in science of individuals from all sectors of society, including disadvantaged groups' (para. 81).

Source: M. Miloudi, Science Policy and Analysis Division, UNESCO m.miloudi@unesco.org
For further information (in French only), go to http://www.unesco.org/pao/braille/coursv3.htm

VISION 2016 challenges Botswana to become centre of excellence in solar energy
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11 July 2001 - Botswana has set itself the target of becoming a centre of excellence in solar energy by 2016. VISION 2016, as the project is known, was kickstarted recently by a dynamic national workshop on solar energy.

The idea behind the 13 December 2000 workshop, Solar Energy in Botswana - the Way Forward, was to create an enabling environment for making solar energy a vibrant and successful industry in Botswana.

Researchers, practitioners and policy-makers from government departments and training institutions used the brainstorming session to share challenges and opportunities offered by the Botswanan solar energy industry. Ideas thrown around ranged from solar farms and power towers via solar hearing aids and dye-sensitised solar cells to solar energy user diaries.

The workshop was organized by the Science and Technology Sector of the Botswana National Commission for UNESCO with the sponsorship of the Department of Physics at the University of Botswana, the Botswana Technological Centre (BOTEC) and Associated Printers.

Innovative projects across the country were evoked. A lecturer in physics at the University of Botswana for example described a project he and his students were working on to produce dye-sensitised solar cells, which should find a major application in the provision of electricity to rural areas in particular.

The Rural Industries Innovation Center (RIIC) described its current efforts to improve the quality of locally produced and imported solar cookers and solar water heating systems, and identify appropriate technology for local adaptation. RIIC was at the origin of a workshop proposal to set up solar farms and power towers.

Speakers evoked problems they had encountered and proposed solutions. One obstacle to the use of technology was the low income of residents in some rural areas. The high wiring costs could however be reduced whenever these villages were connected to the national grid by the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), which was extending its network and had co-operated with BOTEC on a rural pilot project. To reduce the cost of solar energy in Botswana, participants suggested that the government exclude all solar components, such as solar panels, from customs duty.

Participants urged stakeholders and government to encourage research into ways of reducing the production cost of solar energy components using locally available materials. Their recommendation echoed the Science Agenda's call 'for 'S&T research on clean and sustainable technologies, recycling, renewable energy resources and efficient use of energy to be strongly supported by the public and private sectors at national and international levels' (para.30). Energy use was considered by the World Conference on Science as a key area for investment by governments and the private sector alike since, together with competition for resources and pollution of air, soil and water, it was an issue 'at the root of potential conflicts' (Science Agenda, para. 52).

Theft and vandalism pose a problem in Botswana. One participant suggested 'killing the market for thieves' by designing panels in such a way that they would work only with a particular controller and hence prove useless on other systems.

BOTEC announced that it had come up with Mark 6 optimised and Mark 7 controllers which were not manually calibrated and hence excluded heating, an improvement on on the original technology. With the company's solar-powered hearing aids still proving too bulky for customers' liking however, BOTEC would still have to return to the drawing board to design smaller aids.

In her address, the Acting Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water affairs, Ms Mpotokwane, recalled that VISION 2016 recognized the huge potential of solar energy as an abundant natural resource - Botswana enjoys 3200 hours of sunshine annually. She highlighted government activities in support of solar energy development, such as heating, rural electrification, water pumping and solar energy popularization.

In the area of popularization, participants suggested using the BOTEC radio programme to build much-needed awareness of solar energy. How many people around the country had been converted to solar energy? No-one knew. Speakers urged the government to remedy the lack of proper statistics on the use of solar energy and to set up a monitoring mechanism.

Solar energy was a new technology in Botswana, the Acting Permanent Secretary stressed. The Botswana Bureau of Standards was still defining quality standards. As for the current lack of confidence among consumers in the use of solar energy, she put this down to the substandard workmanship by some providers.

In addition to poor workmanship, the lack of direct customer access to suppliers also discouraged customers from persisting with solar energy. Since most projects were government-funded, the government was urged to allow customers direct access to suppliers.

What about introducing solar energy user diaries to combat shoddy workmanship? If an installed solar heater did not work, a participant reasoned, the user should be able not only to report this directly to the company but also note the problem in a user diary which could serve to check on the performance of a given solar supply company. If customer satisfaction were poor, no government contract would be awarded to the incriminated company.

Solar energy had its limitations, all admitted freely, such as the inability of solar systems to power highly rated systems such as electric irons, refrigerators and the like. It should thus be regarded as a complementary solution to other power generation systems.

Participants bemoaned the lack of locally available training centres in solar energy and manufacturing companies. The University of Botswana currently offers a specialization in solar energy at MSc and PhD levels, but nothing at lower levels. The University indicated at the workshop that its Department of Mechanical Engineering would be in a position to offer specialist training in solar energy following a review of courses in conjunction with stakeholders from industry.

Refusing to cede to 'too many solar energy problems, too little time', the participants proposed organizing first a follow-up then regional workshop in 2002, followed by an international conference in 2003. Funding would be requested from various sources, including UNESCO and its partners.

Source : James G. King, Chairman, Science and Technology Sector, Botswana National Commission for UNESCO : Kingjg@mopipi.ub.bw

Sub-regional Observatory on Science and Technology recommended for CEE
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6 July 2001 - A roundtable on research, education and industry in Budapest (Hungary) has recommended the setting up of a sub-regional observatory on science and technology to boost innovation and competitiveness in the sub-region.

Participants from the productive, research and university sectors used the roundtable on Research, Education and Industry in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) Countries to alert Parliaments, Governments and local authorities to what they perceive as a critical situation in Central and Eastern Europe. Urgent, co-ordinated action was required, they warned, to preserve and develop research capacities in countries of the region and thus ensure the region's long-term competitiveness.

From 12-14 October 2000, participants exchanged experiences and proposals at the roundtable, organized by UNESCO's Science Policy and Analysis Division in co-operation with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO as a follow-up activity to the World Conference on Science.

Realistic, participants acknowledged that public support for financing research and development would remain dominant in the medium term. But while it was necessary to maintain and strengthen the public financing system, they argued for appropriate legal dispositions to diversify and mobilise the resources from the private sector and society at large. Investments in the R&D sector needed encouraging, they urged, as did self-financing possibilities and capacities.

Equal emphasis needed to be given to building absorption capacities to maximize the efficiency of R&D investments. The expanding role of international business called for new methods and management skills at all levels and from all actors in the science arena.

The financing of research being a key concern in all Central and Eastern European countries, even if the problems, experiences and approaches were very diverse, participants urged haste in developing regional co-operation to enable the CEE countries to pool initiatives, efforts and resources, as for example through regular consultations between R&D policy-makers in the region and those of the European Union (EU) countries.

An innovative form of co-operation proposed was the Sub-regional Observatory. Once established, the Observatory would undertake expert studies, under the aegis of UNESCO and possibly other international and regional mechanisms such as EU pre-accession funds, to analyse and compare the text of laws in the countries in the region and propose model laws for these countries concerning efficient financing of R&D.

In parallel, the Observatory would develop interdisciplinary training courses for lawyers and civil servants focusing on the complex interdependence of education, research and industry, copyright and labour law in the information society.

Business and administrative management programmes would be run and structures for technology research developed. A co-operation network of small scientific communities would be launched.

The Observatory would also set up a 'best practices' network to adapt methods of statistical data collection and analysis.

An R&D desk would handle the exchange of recent information on major research achievements in the region and provide advisory services for their commercial application.

The Observatory would also compile a database of international audio-visual, 'popular science' materials on new achievements and technologies for use on public television.

Among other recommendations, many dealt with the promotion of corporate sponsorship. Projects tabled included a scheme to develop business partnerships in the CEE, a pilot project to promote corporate fundraising for science education and the creation of National Associations of Business and Industrial Sponsorship.

The roundtable also proposed exploring the desirability of launching, under the general label of a joint UNESCO-EU Commission programme, a special fund for multilateral programmes involving the CEE countries in 2001-2007.

The National Commission of UNESCO for Slovenia has offered to host a follow-up meeting to the October roundtable before the end of this year.

For further information, contact Hungarian National Commission for UNESCO: peter.gresiczki@om.gov.hu

SESAME opens door to experimental science in Middle East
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3 July 2001 - The SESAME Project will be taking a giant step forward next month when construction begins in Allan (Jordan) of permanent premises.

SESAME stands for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East. As the name suggests, the project's aim is to establish, under UNESCO's umbrella, the Middle East's first major international research centre as a cooperative venture by the scientists of the region. Upon completion of the centre, the research programme is expected to start in 2003. Eleven governments have so far joined the project: Armenia, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Authority, and Turkey. Observer countries include Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the UK and the USA.Others have expressed interest in joining.

The SESAME Interim Council is due to meet in Amman, Jordan, on 27-28 August 2001. The meeting will be presided over by Herwig Schopper, President of the SESAME Interim Council, with His Majesty King Abdullah II expected to be in attendance. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned at this time to mark the placing of the first stone. The centre will be jointly operated and supported by all member countries, with additional support from other countries interested in promoting the peaceful development of science and technology in the Middle East.

Specific programmes planned for SESAME include structural molecular biology, molecular environmental science, surface and interface science, microelectromechanical devices, X-ray imaging, archaeological microanalysis, materials characterisation, and medical applications. As an international scientific and technological centre of excellence open to all qualified scientists from the Middle East and elsewhere, SESAME will foster the scientific, technical and economic development of the region and strengthen collaboration in science. SESAME will have as its centerpiece a synchrotron radiation source donated by Germany, the BESSY I storage ring and injector system, which is being significantly upgraded in size and energy to accommodate four insertion devices. Superconducting multipole wigglers will extend the spectral range to 20-25 keV. With these upgrades, the facility will have a very capable, broad spectral range. Due to its low emittance (50 nm-rad), high stored current (up to 700 mA), and small source size at the wiggler source points (0.45 mm x 0.05 mm sigmas), very high flux and flux density should be available from IR to hard x-rays. Undulators will provide relatively high brightness at photon energies up to about 1 keV.

Over the past couple of years, workshops and schools on Accelerator Science and Technology, Materials Research, and Structural Molecular Biology have brought scientists and engineers from SESAME member countries together with experts in synchrotron radiation sources and applications.

The next SESAME scientific workshop is due to take place in Istanbul (Turkey) from 3 to 8 September 2001 on the theme of Bioinformatics and Structural Modelling. Also part of the SESAME project, some 20 scientists and engineers are currently spending 6-12 months each working on accelerator projects at European laboratories and eight scientists have completed or are now completing long term visits to US synchrotron radiation laboratories working on applications of synchrotron radiation.

Support for these activities has been provided by UNESCO, SESAME member countries, the US Department of Energy, the US State Department, ICTP (Trieste) and the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as by many synchrotron radiation laboratories in Europe and the USA.

For further information, contact s.raither@unesco.org or go to: www.sesame.org.jo

‘Active learning’ technique gives physics a facelift in Asia
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29 June 2001 - UNESCO and the the Asian Physics Education Network (ASPEN) are promoting an innovative ‘active learning’ approach to physics teaching at the introductory and university levels as a means of stimulating students’ interest in the subject.

The ‘active learning’ technique is student-centred and has been designed to be relevant to the Asian context. It encourages the student to participate in the learning process. Activity-based, the method involves the use of computers, demonstrations and experiments in the classroom.

In the chapter on Science education, the Science Agenda recommends that ‘new curricula, teaching methodologies and resources taking into account gender and cultural diversity be developed by national education systems in response to the changing educational needs of societies.’

Conceptual understanding assessment tests have shown active learning to be effective in increasing both the student’s interest in, and understanding of, physics. Encouraged by initial feedback, ASPEN is pursuing regional activities and offering support to a number of country initiatives.

This support includes the organization of a number of national workshops, the most recent of which was held at the Universiti Tenaga Nasional in Selangor (Malaysia) from 13 to 15 June 2001.

The Science Agenda also advocates ‘taking steps to’promote the professional development of teachers and educators in the face of change and ... to address the lack of appropriately trained science teachers and educators, in particular in developing countries’.

Teaching staff are not overlooked in the project. As follow-up to the active learning workshops, ASPEN organized a first trainers’ workshop from 26 February to 2 March 2001, at which selected physics teachers from ASPEN member countries were shown how to organize their own workshops and adapt the active learning technique to their respective countries. A digital video of the workshop is to be made available online soon.

With university physics teachers in mind, UNESCO and ASPEN are developing different instructional materials and modules for classroom activities. These materials and modules will soon be available via the UNESCO Jakarta Office or ASPEN websites.

Current ground-breaking projects include the development of ‘virtual’ lecture demonstration video clips recorded on CD ROM for use in supplementing ‘real’ lecture demonstrations (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia) and a series of non-micro-computer-based interactive lecture demonstrations (Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines).

An existing Foundation Course in Physics will also incorporate the ‘active-learning’ approach in future. The Foundation Course in Physics is part of a project launched by UNESCO’s Science Sector in 1990, entitled University Foundation Courses in the Basic Sciences. The project took off in Asia through ASPEN and resulted in the production of textbooks, laboratory manuals, video clips and computer simulation software.

The core material of the Foundation Course, The Fundamentals of Physics, was recently made available online as a first step in the revision process.

Source: jakarta@unesco.org

Science in Canada blue-print for follow-up

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28 June 2001 -
‘Giving meaning to the 1999 World Conference on Science’ is the sub-title of a report published in April this year by the National Commission of Canada for UNESCO.

According to the Introduction, Science in Canada is ‘intended as a non-exhaustive overview of programmes and initiatives that address theme areas in which Canada is particularly active and which help fulfill commitments made in the Science Agenda - Framework for Action.’

The themes chosen are all taken from the Science Agenda. Section One lists those of intrinsic interest: Ethics in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) and Bridging the Information Gap between Science and the Public ; Research and Development Capacity-building and Transdisciplinarity in the Sciences; Women, Youth and Disabled People in SET; Aboriginal Participation, Traditional Knowledge and SET; Sustainable Development and Environmental Technology and Research.

As examples of initiatives linked directly with the World Conference on Science, the report cites plans to create a Canadian chapter of the International Forum of Young Scientists set up in Budapest, a Millennium Symposium on Science and Human Rights and a preparatory meeting to be held in 2001 for an International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES).

ICWES may not be a by-product of Budapest – the triennial conference antedates Budapest by several years – but this year’s preparatory meeting for ICWES takes its inspiration from Budapest. The plan to create an international federation of women in science and technology at the preparatory meeting stems from a recommendation by the six regional associated meetings of the World Conference on Science on gender: Bariloche (Argentina), Sydney (Australia), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Turin (Italy), Bled (Slovenia), Doha (United Arab Emirates), which was incorporated into paragraph 90 of the Science Agenda.

Section Two of the report expands themes from the Science Agenda in which Canada has a demonstrated interest, namely Climate Change Research and Arctic and Circumpolar Affairs, Forestry and Science, Science for Peaceful Purposes and Human Security.

Here, the report cites inter alia plans for an Arctic University to address circumpolar challenges facing Canada and its seven artic neighbours and to improve both the Canadian and circumpolar policy research network.

Each project described in Science in Canada is accompanied by a list of source material and relevant websites.

Source: National Commission of Canada for UNESCO; for further information : info@unesco.ca

UNESCO’s Executive Board gives water institutions go ahead
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15 June 2001
- UNESCO’s Executive Board meeting in Paris (France) this month has approved plans to establish an institute for water education in the Netherlands and a regional centre for urban water management in Iran.

The final decision lies with the General Conference of UNESCO, which will bring together all 188 Member States in October to finalize the Organization’s programme and budget for 2002-2003.

The Executive Board, which meets biannually and is comprised of 58 rotating Members, has recommended this week that the General Conference establish the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and that it further examine, amend as appropriate and approve the Institute’s Statutes (see also WCS Newsletter of 30 June 2000).

The Board also invites the Director-General to submit to the General Conference for approval the final proposal for the creation of the Regional Centre on Urban Water Management, together with the draft Agreement between UNESCO and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (see also WCS Newsletter of 15 March 2001).

Identified by the World Conference on Science as being an area of the environmental sciences ‘requiring special attention’, freshwater and supporting ecosystems have been designated the Organization’s principal priority in the natural and exact sciences for 2002-2003.

Source: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001228/122836e.pdf

UNESCO supporting S&T in DPR Korea
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12 June 2001 - Tomorrow, four scientists from the Academy of Sciences of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will travel to Australia as guests of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

The ten-day visit has been arranged so that the Korean scientists may survey developments in Australia in the fields of life sciences, electronics, energy, and new materials development, in addition to exploring avenues for collaboration and support.

The Australian mission comes as a result of a UNESCO science mission to the Academy of Sciences and National Commission for UNESCO of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea almost a year ago.

The 18–22 July 2000 mission sought to undertake a detailed discipline-based needs assessment, identify problem areas and propose future action. The team covered expertise in mathematics, physics and physics education, water sciences, microbiology, genetic engineering and biology, renewable energies, environmental assessment, computer science, informatics, science management and policy.

The Final Report and Proposal sums up the mission’s observations and the outcome of consultations, in addition to proposing a three-level programme of action to support and help internationalize DPR Korean science.

The promotion of regional and international cooperation to further science and technology was a central message of the World Conference of Science.

Taking up some of the Report’s recommendations, UNESCO’s Beijing Office has made funds available for eight young scientists from DPR Korea to participate in research training in China in the Biotechnology Education and Training Center in Qingdao; International Research and Training Center on Erosion and Sedimentation in Beijing; and Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

For more information, contact jakarta@unesco.org or beijing@unesco.org

Lao PDR working towards national S&T policy
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8 June 2001 - A survey mission is heading to the Lao People's Democratic Republic this September to assist the country in establishing a national policy for science and technology.

The mission follows up a workshop organized in Seoul (Republic of Korea) by the Science and Technology Policy Asian Network (STEPAN) in June 2000 to discuss the needs of least developed countries in the region with regard to science and technology policy-making.

At the time, the STEPAN Board recommended that UNESCO's Jakarta Office make arrangements to assist Laos in this area.

The UNESCO Jakarta Office has been benefiting from the valuable expertise of STEPAN in its preparation for the survey mission.

For further information, contact: jakarta@unesco.org

Free guide now available for S&T projects in Latin America
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5 June 2001
- UNESCO's Regional Office for Science and Technology for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROSTLAC) is launching a Technical and Financial Co-operation Guide for Science and Technology Projects in Latin America.

In recent decades, international co-operation for development in Latin America has been a resource to which governments, as well as civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have appealed with increasing expectations. They are counting on this form of co-operation to help bridge gaps they have found difficult to bridge with their own resources, especially in the areas of funding and personnel. The diversity of types of co-operation and procedures highlights the need to draw key information together in a single document.

The Guide follows up paragraph 16 of the Science Agenda, which recommends 'a close dialogue ... between donors and recipients of S&T funding' and that 'universities, research institutes and industry ... develop closer cooperation' with the financing of S&T projects being promoted 'as a means of advancing knowledge and strengthening science-based industry'.

The Guide, which comes in a compact disc (CD) format, has been prepared to assist institutions involved in planning, promotion, management, financing or execution of scientific and technological activities in the region, in their search to complement scarce local resources. It has been put together by ROSTLAC through its Divisions of Science Analysis and Policies and Basic and Engineering Sciences.

More than a directory, it is a compilation offering continuous and up-to-date support to the region by providing information about programmes, projects, technical and or financial co-operation, scholarships and other topics of interest.

The electronic version of the CD may be consulted at the following webpage: http://www.unesco.org.uy/st-management/ An upgrade will be done directly at the webpage.

For free copies of the Guide, please contact Eduardo Martínez, ROSTLAC, Montevideo (Uruguay): cienge@unesco.org.uy

Kazakh seminar to concretize recommendations of World Conference on Science
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1 June 2001 - The Kazakh National Academy of Sciences is planning a national seminar in October of this year to operationalize the recommendations of the World Conference on Science.

Expected to bring together some 30 decision-makers and scientists from different regions of Kazakhstan, as well as UNESCO experts, the seminar will serve to stimulate debate and reflection on future science policy in Kazakhstan using the recommendations of the Budapest Conference as a starting point. The seminar should culminate in a national plan of action.

The seminar comes at a crucial time. In the current transition to a market economy, it has become urgent to halt the erosion of science in the newly independent states of Central Asia. The science and technology systems inherited from the Former Soviet Union are going to need to be reoriented if they are to provide a sound base for the research and development so crucial to economic and social revival.

The possibility of arranging a similar seminar in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is currently under discussion with the Academies of these countries.

Source: almaty@unesco.org



En 2010, le Maroc aura doublé les fonds attribués à la recherche

27 juillet 2001 - Le gouvernement marocain s'est fixé comme objectif d'atteindre 1% du produit intérieur brut (PIB) qui sera consacré à la recherche et au développement (R&D) en 2010.

Ce qui équivaut à plus que doubler les 0,4% du revenu national attribués à ce jour à la recherche et au développement et correspond à trois fois la somme investie en 1998 (0,3%).

Cette croissance de l'investissement fait partie intégrante d'une stratégie prépondérante visant à faire de la recherche une priorité nationale et un facteur clé du développement du pays dans les années à venir.

Parmi les projets ambitieux soulignés dans le plan quinquennal pour 2000-2004 figure la création de l'Institut Marocain de l'Information Scientifique et Technique et l'installation de centres et de laboratoires dans le domaine de l'eau et de l'énergie ainsi qu'un important soutien financier pour la recherche fondamentale.

Figure également parmi ces projets, la création d'un réseau informatique inter-universités qui portera le nom de MARWAN (Morocco Wide Area Network) et sera destiné à l'éducation, la formation et la recherche.

Par ailleurs, le Gouvernement a prévu la création d'un Institut d'études et de recherche sur les plantes aromatiques et médicinales ainsi qu'un centre d'études et de recherche sahariennes. Les laboratoires de recherche seront équipés de matériel de très haute technologie et bénéficieront d'un appui à la recherche dans les disciplines des sciences humaines et sociales.

Fruit d'une large consultation nationale, le plan quinquennal laisse apparaître six programmes thématiques dans la recherche scientifique ayant pour objectif l'amélioration de la qualité de la vie ; de la connaissance, la préservation et la valorisation des ressources naturelles ; du développement socio-économique et culturel ; des sciences et des technologies de l'information ; de l'agriculture en conditions difficiles ; de l'innovation et de la compétitivité des entreprises. En 1999-2000, 104 projets sur 340 ont été retenus et 412 projets sont en cours d'évaluation pour cette année.

Afin d'encourager et de faciliter la coopération universités-industries, une structure d'interfaces sera implantée dans six universités marocaines et dans d'autres institutions d'enseignement supérieur. Le gouvernement a également prévu la formation d'experts en génie industriel et la création d'un site Internet dans ce domaine ainsi que l'établissement d'un réseau marocain d'incubateurs. Dans les trois prochaines années, près de 300 entreprises seront amenées à moderniser leurs installations et revaloriser leur savoir-faire.

Afin de renforcer la coordination dans le domaine de la recherche, le plan gouvernemental de restructuration prévoit la création d'une autorité gouvernementale pour la recherche et la création d'un comité interministériel permanent qui sera chargé de conseiller le gouvernement en matière de recherche et de développement.

Le Centre national de coordination et de planification de la recherche scientifique et technique, (CNCPRST) sera remplacé par le Centre national de recherche scientifique et technique, (CNRST) et parallèlement, le gouvernement créera un groupement d'intérêt public (GIP) en matière de recherche et de formation.

Source: Ministère marocain de l'Enseignement Supérieur, de la Formation des Cadres et de la Recherche Scientifique, hatimi@enssup.gov.ma

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