United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Unesco Sitemap
Natural Sciences Sector
World Conference on Science

Back to WCS Newsletter Home Page


Contributions to this Newsletter may be sent to:   wcs-newsletter@unesco.org  Fax: (33)1 4568 5823

Fostering Science and Technology Policy in Senegal
Top of page

6 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 from them.

To this end, an effort is being made to identify and apply approaches that would foster:

  • the creation of small- and medium-scale enterprises and industries benefiting from the fruits of national research,
  • partnership between enterprises, universities and research centres,
  • a favourable environment for improving research and the infrastructures for making use of its outcome in industry.

This 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.

The Science 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.

The 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.

For further information contact the Division of Science Analysis and Policies, Sector of Natural Sciences, UNESCO;
e-mail: f.osotimehin@unesco.org

In the quest for strategies to increase participation of women in Physics

Top of page

4 March 2002 - 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) and UNESCO.

The 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.

The Science 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 of WCS.

Key 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.

For further information, write to: r.clair@unesco.org

Fostering the recruitment of talent for science
Top of page

22 February 2002 - Convinced that science education underlies progress in science and its service to society, two senior figures from the World Conference on Science - Professors Leon Lederman (Nobel Laureate in Physics, Illinois Math Science Academy, USA) and Péter Csermely (Semmelweis University, Hungary) – are organizing a WCS follow-up workshop entitled Science Education: Talent Recruitment and Public Understanding. The Workshop, to be held in Budapest on 18-20 April 2002, represents an important initiative to seek innovative approaches at an international level for involving the talent of new generations in scientific research, and for enabling talented young scientists to do their best in the service to society.

The Science Agenda - Framework for Action, approved by the WCS, urged governments of developing countries and countries in transition to enhance the status of scientific, educational and technical careers, and to make determined efforts to improve working conditions, increase national capacity to retain trained scientists and promote new careers in S&T. In this context, the Workshop will address issues relating to the training of talented high-school students for scientific research. It aims at promoting co-operation between existing scientific research training projects by raising opportunities for intensive student-exchanges, improving these projects by exchanging experiences, and initiating new projects in countries where needed. The Workshop will review existing highly-successful examples of scientific research training in Europe, the USA, Canada and Israel and will focus on the introduction of experiences gained into national projects in Central and Eastern Europe. Long-term, the workshop seeks to establish a network of scientific research training projects world-wide.

Participation of key European and global organizations which promote science education and talent, such as the European Council of High Ability, MENSA International, NATO Scientific Committee, UNESCO, will help ensure an international impact and the participation of key figures of Central and Eastern European countries to promote existing successful practices in the region.

For further information write to: csermely@ puskin.sote.hu

Regional Conference on Trace Element Research in Africa
Top of page

11 February 2002 - The Trace Element Satellite Centre for UNESCO (TESCU) is organizing its first regional conference in Africa. The Conference, entitled Trace Elements in Biological Processes and Review of Trace Element Research in Africa, will be held on 27-30 March 2002 in Nairobi, Kenya. Over 150 participants from both English- and French-speaking African countries are expected to participate. In conjunction with the Conference, and immediately preceding it on 25-26 March, the Department of Chemistry of the University of Nairobi will conduct a two-day regional training workshop on basic instrumentation used in trace element analysis and environmental sampling and analytical techniques. Some 50 participants will be selected to participate in the workshop, and through it learn techniques and acquire knowledge they need to promote trace element research in their home countries.

The WCS Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge called for the building of scientific capacity to be supported by regional and international co-operation in order to ensure both equitable development and the spread and utilization of human creativity without discrimination of any kind. Moreover, the Declaration urged co-operation between developed and developing countries in conformity with the principles of full access to information, equity and mutual benefit. In the wake of the WCS in 1999, the Trace Element Institute for UNESCO (Lyon, France) established, in co-operation with the Organization, a network of satellite centres of excellence in 14 countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Japan, Kenya, Libyan Arab Jamahyrija, Lithuania, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Russian Federation, Senegal, Tunisia, and Turkey).

Scientists affiliated to the Satellite Centre in Kenya have over the years conducted research on trace elements in freshwater, and in marine, terrestrial, livestock and human environments. However, the results of their studies and others from the rest of Africa were largely not shared or available to the international community. In this context, the Conference in Nairobi will be a particularly important gathering that will document, and promote awareness of, the status of trace element research in Africa and of its impact. The Conference will also be conducive to new regional and international partnerships in an interdisciplinary area of research that has important bearings on nutrition, agronomy, pharmacology, toxicology, epidemiology and veterinary sciences in the region.

For further information contact: UNESCO’s Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences, Section of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, e-mail: c.ramasiarisoa@ unesco.org

Regional UNESCO chair created on Women, Science and Technology

Top of page

8 February 2002 - A UNESCO Chair aimed at promoting the contribution of women to science and technology, was inaugurated at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2001. It will seek to increase awareness of decision makers and the public at large on women’s role in this area, and encourage new generations of women to pursue a career in science and technology. The establishment of the Chair follows the conclusions of the Science Agenda approved by the WCS as well as the recommendations of a Regional Forum on Women, Science and Technology in Bariloche (Argentina, 1998) held in the run-up to the Budapest Conference.

The UNESCO/FLACSO chair has been set up in partnership with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Chile); the Universidad Estal de Campinas (Brazil); the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas; CONICYT and the Secretariado Regional de Género, Ciencia y Tecnologia para America Latina (Uruguay); and the University of Mexico.

The incumbent of the Chair is Professor Gloria Bonder - a scientist of international renown and a well-known promoter of participation of women in science and technology in the region.

When providing conceptual and methodological orientation for mainstreaming gender equity principles and perspectives in S&T policies in Latin America, activity surrounding will highlight research on the relationship between women/gender and science and technology and promote academic activities and the training of professors and students, in particular with the use of new information and communication technologies. Other activities will include the collection and dissemination of regional and international information and the fostering of co-operative projects between women and men researchers, teachers, legislators, policy-makers, the industrial sector and women organizations in Latin America.

One of the first activities being carried out under the programme is the preparation of a correspondence course for universities in Latin America sensitizing university teachers and students to gender equity issues and wise practices and policies for promoting women careers in science and technology, and for benefiting from the contribution of women scientists to research and education. The course will be prepared in 2002 for distribution on video-cassettes, CD-ROMs and via electronic sites.

For further information, go to: http://www.flacso.org.ar


Furthering Scientific Progress in Iran
Top of page

31 January 2002 - The Islamic Republic of Iran has announced the establishment of a National Council for Scientific Progress in Iran 2020 (NCSPI) for the future planning of science and technology during the coming twenty years. The Council’s goal is to provide a scientific approach to meeting demands for the development of the State, the extension of science and technology in response to social needs and world peace, and to implement the WCS Science Agenda.

The NCSPI will be a lead body for co-operation amongst governmental administrators and managers, scientists and experts, and will conduct an annual study on the situation and progress in the scientific development of the state. Results will be presented to the public, especially students, faculty members and research and scientific institutions, in the form of a report to be made widely available.

For further information contact Permanent Delegation for UNESCO of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Tel: (0033) 1 45 68 33 00

National Action Plan adopted for the Republic of Tajikistan within the Framework of WCS follow-up
Top of page

25 January 2002 - A national seminar held by the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan (Dushanbe, November 2001) adopted a National Action Plan to apply the recommendations of the Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge and the Science Agenda - Framework for Action in order to ensure the sustainable development of the Republic, and the effective utilization of science and technology in the process of transition to a fully-fledged market economy.

The plan highlights actions to increase living standards and promote the development of Tajikistan as a sovereign state through economic and social reforms. It focuses on establishing modern scientific-technical infrastructures for the economy, science, culture, education, and their monitoring by government. The orientations of the Plan embrace the setting up of economic, legal and monitoring mechanisms for reforms in the science and technology sectors, the full use and even increase of the intellectual potential of the country, promotion of competitiveness of national scientific-technical production, and the development of innovative scientific activities that meet the requirements of on-going reforms.

As the Plan points out, Tajikistan is facing a pressing need to address the challenges relating to the development of human resources, the use of local raw materials and energy resources, and an environmentally sound basis for the development of the economy. Measures are also to be taken to overcome a decrease in overall production figures and the low rate of innovation in technology. Concrete steps will be taken to improve the quality of products.

International co-operation in science and technology is recognized as a major component of the external policy of the country. Tadjikistan welcomes partnership in science and technology with all interested countries and international organizations. Co-operation in science and technology within the Commonwealth of Independent States will in particular be promoted.

The UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty supported the holding of the Seminar in Dushanbe. This was not the first such action it has taken to promote a sub-regional programme on the follow-up to WCS. In September 2001, it supported similar seminars in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

For further information contact UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty, Fax: +7-3272-582646;
e-mail: almaty@ unesco.org

Follow-up to the World Conference on Science enters new six-year phase
Top of page

2 January 2002 - At the 31st session of the General Conference of UNESCO (Paris, November 2001), 188 Member States and 6 Associate Members unreservedly approved the Organization’s Medium-Term Strategy 2002-2007. The beginning of the year 2002 saw the start of the implementation of that Strategy which heralds a major phase in the follow-up to WCS, building on efforts made by UNESCO and its partners during the two years that have elapsed since the event in Budapest. This new phase will embrace three successive biennial periods of fully-fledged partnership in the implementation of the recommendations of WCS formulated in its Declaration on Science and the Use of .Scientific Knowledge and the Science Agenda - Framework for Action.

Many facets of the Medium-Term Strategy take into consideration and respond to the expectations of the WCS. The Strategy recalls that over the last decade a set of global conferences has given rise to a world-wide consensus on key challenges to humankind. The World Conference on Science held in 1999 was one such conference, charting the way for UNESCO to support and promote scientific co-operation at all levels, drawing on its unique comparative advantage of having the natural and human sciences under one roof. Thus, action that follows up the WCS will be an integral part of the Organization’s programme that has been consolidated within an unifying theme, namely ‘contributing to peace and human development in an era of globalization through education, the sciences, culture and communication. In its chapter relating to the sciences the Strategy states that UNESCO will address contemporary challenges in an integrated framework, responding to the new social contract between science and society for the 21st Century as defined by the results of the WCS.

The follow-up to the Budapest Conference is closely concerned with two of the three main strategic thrusts of the Organization’s programme: developing and promoting universal principles and norms in order to meet emerging challenges in education, science, culture and communication; and promoting empowerment and participation in the emerging knowledge society through equitable access, capacity building and sharing of knowledge.

Eight of the twelve strategic objectives set out by the Strategy are very much in line with the recommendations of the WCS. The objectives in question concern education, management of the environment and social change, information technologies, enhancing capacities to participate in the emerging knowledge societies and dialogue between cultures and civilizations. The response to the WCS within the sexennial Medium-Term Strategy combines a strategic orientation of the entire programme in science and allied areas, and a particular focus on selected actions in line with recommendations of the WCS.

In science, Strategic Objective 4 requires the Organization to promote principles and ethical norms to guide scientific and technological development and social transformation. The Organization has prepared itself to act within its programme on the Ethics of science and technology in co-operation with the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology.

Strategic Objective 5 seeks to improve human security by better management of the environment and social change. In this area, the five intergovernmental scientific programmes of UNESCO will be a privileged tool to address major challenges for sustainable development. Water resources and supporting ecosystems have been accorded the highest priority within the science programme between 2002 and 2007, in recognition of their central place in the provision of a scientific basis for environmental security.

Strategic Objective 6 highlights the enhancement of scientific, technical and human capacities to participate in the emerging knowledge societies, and is the focus of the Organization’s programmes dealing with the basic and engineering sciences, science policies, science education, as well as information and communication technologies and the environment.

The almost universal call made at the WCS for the promotion of science education, in the broad sense, without discrimination and in all its forms, is to be addressed through a co-operative effort within programmes in education, science and communication. To this end, in line with the Strategic Objective 2, the Organization will be promoting science and technology education for all through implementation of an integrated Plan of Action oriented towards the renewal and diversification of basic science and technology education in both formal and informal settings, and a greater use of information and communication technologies in science teaching.

UNESCO willingly accepted the role of clearing house for the follow-up to the Conference in Budapest. The Medium-Term Strategy strongly advocated UNESCO’s clearing house role in all branches of its programme. Also highlighted were other functions inherent to its mandate such as being a laboratory of ideas, a standard setter, a capacity builder and a catalyst for international co-operation. In each of these capacities, the Organization would welcome co-operation with partners in the follow-up to WCS.

‘Science is for everyone’ message of Science Week in France

Top of page
11 octobre 2001 - Cette année, la semaine de la science en France (15-21 octobre) will be spreading the message that ‘Science is everywhere and for everyone’.

Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg, Minister of Research, chose this theme out of a desire to see ‘science to leave its sanctuary and take to the streets’.

‘Science should be close to people and convivial’ he says, ‘something that people are able to share’.

The need for scientists to participate more fully in a dialogue with the general public was underscored by the World Conference on Science, which placed science squarely ‘in society and for society’.

Paragraph 41 of the Declaration described the social responsibility of scientists as being to ‘maintain high standards of scientific integrity and quality control, share their knowledge, communicate with the public and educate the younger generation.’

Next week’s celebrations intend to do just that. And it is hoped that school children – who are the primary targets of the Science Week in France – will come away from the different events having discovered a thirst for knowledge and a vocation in science. France is not alone in experiencing a disaffection for science among its teenage population and is taking energetic steps to reverse the trend (see WCS Newsletter, 19 October 2000).

Science Week will also aim to develop a ‘civic science’ by encouraging dialogue between citizens and scientists on such crucial isses as genetic and cellular research, Mad Cow disease, genetically modified organisms, the greenhouse effect and climate change.

Paragraph 75 of the Science Agenda called upon governments and non-governmental organizations to organize debates, including public debates, on the ethical implications of scientific work.’ It also recommended that these activities ‘be institutionally fostered and recognized as part of scientists’ work and responsibility.’

For further information, go to: www.recherche.gouv.fr/english

Contact:    Top of page
Newsletter, World Conference on Science, UNESCO
7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 PARIS, France
Fax: (33) 1 45 68 58 23
, e-mail: wcs-newsletter@unesco.org
Back to UNESCO Home pageBack to Natural Sciences WebsiteBack to WCS websiteBack to the top of page