Sunday, November 26, 2006

November 30th: Registration Deadline for Mondialogo Engineering Award

Registration for this award is open to project teams whose members are enrolled as students at universities, technical colleges, etc. Each team should consist of two student groups from developing and developed countries. Between December and May, the team should put together a practical, high-quality engineering project for the benefit of communities in developing countries. The team project should address the UN Millennium Development Goals of extreme poverty reduction and sustainable development. Submit your final project proposal to the Mondialogo team by 31 May 2007.

Ten Mondialogo Engineering Awards of €20,000 each will go to the teams with the top project proposals. An Honourable Mention and €5,000 have been earmarked for 20 more teams. This is the second edition of the Mondialogo Engineering Award, a partnership between UNESCO and DaimlerChrysler. Access the registration form, the UNESCO focal point and the background.

See our previous related postings:

*Call for Applications: The Mondialogo Engineering Award

* 7 Teams Among U.S. Universities Were Among Winners of International Engineering Contest for 2005

Collage ©Peter Larbi

The 21st Century Dialogues

“Are there limits to growth? Population, resources, energy, development?”

“Water for all?”

“Biodiversity in danger”

“Saving the planet: consume less to live better?”

“A new ethic of responsibility: towards a natural contract?”

These were the subjects addressed by leading scientists, experts, philosophers and policy-makers from around the world who examined the future of the human species and the prospects of our planet at the 21st Century Dialogues session organized by UNESCO’s Office of Foresight in Paris on November 25th.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

UNESCO Contributes to Africa's Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action

On 23-24 November, African Ministers of Science and Technology will be meeting in Cairo, Egypt to prepare the forthcoming summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa in January 2007.

The African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) was established in November 2003 under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union. It is a high-level platform for developing policies and setting priorities on science, technology and innovation for African development. AMCOST provides political and policy leadership for the implementation of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action.

The theme of the upcoming Summit of the African Union in 2007 is science, technology and research for Africa's socio-economic development. This choice undoubtedly reflects the growing realization that science, technology and innovation are central to economic prosperity and to reaching the international development goals in such areas as food security, disease control, access to clean water and environmental sustainability.

In preparation for this event, UNESCO has put together a brochure on its contribution to Africa’s Plan for Science and Technology to 2010. Click here to read the Science in Africa brochure, and find out about the ways in which UNESCO can lend its support to NEPAD.

Elaborated in 2005 by the African Union and its NEPAD, Africa's Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action is the fruit of a continent-wide consultation; it creates a roadmap for international and regional cooperation in science and technology over the next five years.

UNESCO has accompanied this exciting new initiative, first by assisting in the initial elaboration of Africa's strategy for science and technology, then by co-organizing the First African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology in Nairobi in 2003 and throwing its support behind the Second Ministerial Conference on the same theme in 2005. To ensure a coherent approach among United Nations agencies, UNESCO also held a meeting in June 2006 to prepare with its sister agencies for the African Union Summit in 2007.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On the US-Africa Materials Institute (USAMI)

© National Science Foundation

The USAMI is a virtual institute that was crated in 2003 with sponsorship from the Division of Materials Research of the National Science Foundation. The initiative aims at promoting interdisciplinary collaboration between U.S. and African researchers in the areas of materials research and education. This is achieved by:
  • Sponsoring research visits by African Scientists to U.S. Universities to engage in USAMI-sponsored research.
  • Sponsoring the visits to Africa for U.S. researchers and students to engage in research and education activities.
  • Organizing workshops to bring materials scientists and engineers together.
  • Using virtual tools to promote education activities at all levels of U.S. Africa Materials research.

USAMI scientists have access to well equipped labs for doing work in cutting-edge areas such as nanomaterials and biomaterials. There are also labs for micro-testing, mechanical/tribological testing, materials characterization (IAC Labs) and micro-/nano-fabrication (PRISM clean room) and workstations for computational simulations/experiments. These facilities are available to USAMI fellows and students along with the resources at more participating universities in the U.S.*

The research themes focus on two broad areas: Advanced Materials and Structures, and Materials for Societal Development. In the area of Advanced Materials and Structures, the objective is to engage African and U.S. scientists in research and education activities that can advance the frontiers of nanoscience and biomaterials science. Ongoing activities in nanoscience include: studies of the mechanical and electrical properties of nanoscale thin films, MEMS contacts (adhesion and stiction phenomena) and novel low-cost methods for the fabrication of organic electronics.

In the area of biomaterials science, ongoing efforts include studies of multi-scale cell/surface interactions, and integrated efforts to develop BioMEMS and conjugated nanoparticles for disease detection and treatment. So far BioMEMS and conjugated nanoparticles have been developed for the detection and treatment of cancer. However, initial efforts are being made to extend these to other diseases such as FIV/HIV.

As for the research on materials for societal development is exploring new ways of using knowledge from materials science to develop affordable and holistic approaches to basic human needs such as housing, potable water and energy for cooking. New ways are also being explored to add value to African raw materials such as clays and aluminosilicates that are used extensively as refractory ceramics.

Brown University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Howard University, Iowa State University, Lehigh University, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, Yale University
© USAMI/Princeton University

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Join the UNESCO/OECD Internet Discussion Forum on Open Educational Resources

UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) are holding an Internet discussion forum to focus on the findings and conclusions from a draft OECD study on Open Educational Resources*, and raise awareness on OER. The Community of Interest that has been formed has been active since October 2005 and has more than 600 members from 94 countries. For more information about the Community and previous discussions, go to

The forum will end on December 1st,2006. The upcoming sessions are organized as follows:

  • 20-26 November: What are the motives or incentives and barriers for individuals and institutions to use, produce and share OER?
  • 27 November – 1 December: What are the policy implications and the most pressing policy issues at institutional, regional and national level coming out from this study?

To participate in the forum, send an email to Susan D’Antoni with "Join OECD OER forum" in the subject line.
For more information and continuous updates regarding the OECD study, go to

*OER – educational resources that are freely available on the Internet for use, adaptation and re-use

Saturday, November 18, 2006

UNESCO and Microbiology

Priyanka Rohatgi is one of the researchers learning how to commandeer the complex machinery that cells use to recognize and respond to such important molecules as steroid hormones, thyroid hormones and vitamin D.
Photo from the National Science Foundation

While the general public is largely unaware of the the importance of microbiology, it is a crucially important field of science. Molecular and cell biology is important not only for the understanding of human, animal and plant diseases, but more generally of all living organisms. Microbial processes have important industrial applications, from the food industry to mineral beneficiation to pharmaceuticals. Understanding soil organisms is critical for agriculture, and indeed offers great promise for bio-remediation of damaged environments. While major advances have been made in microbiology, and in microbiological technologies in developed nations, the developing world has lagged seriously.

UNESCO has played an important role in building microbiological capacity to serve developing nations. That role is relatively under-appreciated given the health and economic benefits it will yield in the long run.

UNESCO's Molecular and Cell Biology Network
The major goal of MCBN is to provide opportunities to developing and restructuring countries to attack local and regional problems by utilizing methods of molecular and cell biology. MCBN is a not-for-profit association and a non-governmental organization (NGO) supported by UNESCO. UNESCO's Basic Science program has been working with MCBN for more than a decade.

UNESCO's Microbial Resources Centers (MIRCENs)
The MIRCENs are academic/research institutes in developed and developing countries which network in a global collaborative effort to promote international scientific co-operation on microbiological research and biotechnological applications for the benefit of humankind. Since 1975 and in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 34 Microbial Resources Centres (MIRCENS) have been established worldwide.

The Global Microscience Project (GPME)

Practical experiences are an essential part of learning science. However, in many countries these experiences are not provided in the majority of their primary and secondary schools. There are several reasons for this: cost, safety, waste disposal and teacher preparation. Indeed, relatively few university students can be trained in science because of these factors. To help overcome these problems, microchemistry and other microscience kits and workbooks have been developed under this UNESCO project.

The project has been in existence for several years, and more than 80 countries have introduced microchemistry workshops and training courses. In some countries, UNESCO-Associated Centers have been established to further develop the microscience project. Now, English versions of the available microscience materials provide coverage of all educational levels: from primary to all of the secondary level (and university/tertiary level in some cases). While the set of teaching and learning packages is only complete in English, many specific microscience materials are available in other languages.

Download Microscience Materials (English Version): Click on the materials to download the different chapters.
I. Primary Microscience Experiences

II. Chemistry

III. Physics (Microelectricity)

IV. Biology

Friday, November 17, 2006

UNESCO's Decentralization Policy

UNESCO's decentralization policy seeks to ensure that UNESCO designs and implements programs that, although global in scope, are adapted to the needs and specific circumstances of Member States. Special attention is given to developing countries and their local socio-economic, geographical, cultural and political contexts.

UNESCO's Decentralization Action Plan groups Member States for service by a global network of multi-disciplinary Cluster Offices, National Offices, Regional Bureaus and Liaison Offices. The Bureau of Field Coordination is responsible for ensuring the smooth implementation of this new field network and provides a clear, single line of management. In addition, UNESCO Institutes and centers with well defined mandates and operations exist worldwide.

Click on the subtitle below for linked lists of the relevant offices.

Cluster Offices
These are the main platform for delivery of all UNESCO activities. They are multidisciplinary, ideally with each Sector represented. The Head of Office, while often having a background in a particular field, mostly play executive roles, managing the Program Specialists covering the various domains. The office implements a cluster program which is the result of consultation and consensus; National Offices join that cluster program.

National Offices
National Office programs are more focused, according to their individual purposes. They implement a time-bound national program, which results from consultations within that country. They assist in devising the cluster program where that Member State is concerned.

Regional Bureaus
Each Regional Bureau is responsible for the program in a given region and program domain; the programs are implemented through the Cluster and National Offices and drawn up through regional consultations. Regional Bureaus are almost always located in a Cluster Office and as such benefit from staff in a variety of fields, but often have an additional complement in their own substantive domain. Those staff with regional responsibilities based in offices other than Regional Bureaus act first and foremost as Program Specialists answerable to the Head of their Office. Regional Bureaus have no representational authority, nor do they oversee the Cluster and National Offices in hierarchical terms.

Liaison Offices
Liaison offices in New York and Geneva maintain close relationship with the Headquarters of the United Nations and other United Nations organizations.

Websites of UNESCO Institutes and Centers
There are two UNESCO international Centers and nine Institutes. They are all linked to this website.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

UNESCO Beijing Office: The Science Programs

Wei Yu, Chair of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura

UNESCO's Beijing Office fosters the advancement, transfer and sharing of scientific knowledge and encourages nations in its cluster to gain a better understanding of the complex relationship between human activities and the environment.

Priority is given to developing human and institutional resources through training, information dissemination, joint research, networking and technology transfer. An area of particular emphasis is the training of young scientists.
From improving lives through the latest engineering advances to protecting people from the floods of the Yangtze River, science holds potential solutions to many pressing problems.

UNESCO's Beijing Office

UNESCO's Beijing Office was created in 1984 as the UNESCO office in China for Science and Technology. The office has gradually expanded its activities and territory since then. In January 2002, it became a Cluster office for East Asia covering the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Japan, Mongolia, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The office serves as the main platform to communicate with UNESCO's Member States in the region.

The Beijing Cluster covers 25% of the world population, consisting of five countries that are interrelated historically and culturally. There are, however, significant cultural and societal differences among the countries. The languages are totally different. Two are highly industrialized countries, two are less developed.

Today, the office serves all five UNESCO programs:
* Education
* Natural Sciences
* Social and Human Sciences
* Culture
* Communications and Information
The Social and Human Sciences sector unit was created in February 2002. The Communication and Information sector unit was created in September 2004.

World Digital Library Initiative Factsheet

The project for a World Digital Library was proposed by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in a speech to U.S. National Commission for UNESCO in Washington in June 2005. The project will aim to build upon the experience of the Library of Congress and of other national libraries and cultural institutions around the world to create a large repository of significant primary materials representing cultures from across the globe.

The U.S. Mission to UNESCO has provided this factsheet on its website.

Koïchiro Matsuura opens UNCSTD Meeting in Paris

Read the full discussion on the UNESCO website.

Welcoming the U.N. Commission on Science and Technology for Development to its first meeting at UNESCO Headquarters, the Director-General highlighted the importance of the focus of the Panel’s meeting on the ways to promote “the building of a people-centered, development-oriented and inclusive information society, with a view to enhancing digital opportunities for all people”.
Referring to the lead roles entrusted to UNESCO and CSTD in the follow-up to WSIS, the Director-General explained that the current challenge is to ensure that “the new, more integrated, more holistic vision of the information society” that emerged from WSIS is “acted upon and translated into reality”.

In the context of the imminent release of the report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence (HLP), Mr Matsuura felt that a major element in the WSIS follow-up would lie in achieving complementarity of action among the many stakeholders of the information society. “The challenge is to build greater synergy and coherence among agencies, while still drawing on the full range of expertise across the UN”.
The meeting was held in UNESCO headquarters in Paris, November 6-8, 2006.

Editors Note: I was the first U.S. UNCSTD Commissioner, and am delighted to see the linking of UNCSTD and UNESCO. JAD

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"More power for UN reps urged"

Read the full article by Mark Turner in the Financial Times , November 9 2006.

A blue-ribbon reform committee has recommended that the United Nations should establish a network of much more powerful country representatives who have and exercise the authority to rein in and allocate funds for country programs. This would presumably affect UNESCO's programs as well as those of other decentralized U.N. agencies.

The reform committee of 15 including the UK chancellor of the exchequer, the prime ministers of Pakistan, Norway and Mozambique, and the former presidents of Chile and Tanzania.

The committee suggests designing unified UN development plans in each country, putting all funds into a single pot, and then allocating money to the different agencies as appropriate. The process would be overseen by a UN resident-coordinator in that country who would have far more authority than at present. The UN’s global network of coordinators would then report to a powerful new ‘Sustainable Development Board’, headed by the UNDP in New York.

Their proposals need the approval of the General Assembly to become policy.
According to the The Financial Times article, it is far from clear whether the recommendations will be accepted by the General Assembly.

UNESCO-WTA Collaboration

City Members of the World Technopolis Association

The World Technolopolis Associaiton (WTA) and UNESCO signed a contract earlier this year to collaborate. With this contract, the two organizations will carry out joint projects, including:
1. a Workshop on Science City Development

2. Developing the UNESCO-WTA Center for Science Cities Development

3. Publishing a Book “ Science Cities Development in the World”

In accordance with this agreement, the International Training Workshop on "High Technology Clusters in a Global Context" was held in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, from 6 to 10 November 2006.

WTA is a cooperative organization among world-class science cities that carries out various projects for the development of the WTA member cities as well as other cities worldwide. Members include science and technology oriented local governments, universities, research institutes, businesses, or in some way related organizations and individuals.

Friday, November 10, 2006

UNESCO produced TV documentary on Darfour gets best investigative journalism award

Read the full UNESCO press release.

The Children of Darfur”, directed by Denmark’s Camilla Nielsson and produced by UNESCO, receives the International TV3 Actual Award today in Barcelona, Spain, a 10,000-euro first prize for outstanding examples of investigative journalism.

UNESCO produced this documentary as part of its “Revisiting Public Service Television” series.

The Children of Darfur had already received this summer the 25th Grand Prix of Documentary at the 2006 Monte-Carlo TV Festival. Other prizes received by the series include the Golden Award from the Aljazeera Documentary Film Festival and the Bronze Medal at the URTI TV Film Festival.

Ethics of Science in Africa

The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), will hold its Fifth Ordinary Session in Dakar, from 6 to 9 December 2006, on the topic of "Ethics of Science in Africa."

Key areas that will be addressed include:
* ethics education and consultation on the draft core curriculum for bioethics teaching;
* environmental ethics, consultation on the draft policy advice on environmental ethics and the problem of toxic waste in Africa;
* regional consultation on science ethics and scientists' responsibility and setting up monitoring and application bodies;
* and the ethical dimensions of the relation among biodiversity, genetically modified organisms and biotechnology.
A Youth Forum on the ethical and social responsibilities of scientists in Africa is also planned, in order to involve young researchers or representatives of youth organizations in the work of COMEST.

Finally, a Regional Ministerial Meeting on the incorporation of ethics of science and technology in African public policies will also take place in order to assure visibility and political support to the debate of this matter in the West Africa region.

"Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO: 1945-2005"

Editorial Committee: Jake Lamar, Brian Smith, Bruno de Padirac and Gail Archibald, UNESCO, 2006, 696 pages. ( €30,00 )

Summary: "The scientific mandate of the United Nations educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) linked, from the outset, science with people, peace, societal benefits and the environment. In its scientific outreach to all civilizations during the past 60 years, UNESCO has championed the roles of science in development and the fight against poverty. Among others, it has also helped create numerous institutes, publications and non-governmental organizations to bring together the scientific world - sometimes despite cultural and political barriers.

"Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO 1945–2005 offers an inside perspective on the past six decades of this engagement. Including personal reminiscences of former and active staff who contributed to the UNESCO experience, the story is enriched by an historical analysis of the first 20 years of the Organization’s action in science.

"The volume traces through six parts the role played by UNESCO in the history of international science cooperation in an ever-changing world: I. Setting the Scene, 1945–1965; II. Basic Sciences and Engineering; III. Environmental Sciences; IV. Science and Society; V. Overviews and Analyses; and VI. Looking Ahead. It also features a list of chronological milestones set along the way."

Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its 175th session, Paris, 26 September-12 October 2006

Read the full 77 page report online. (PDF format.)

More than 15 States ratify the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Read the full UNESCO news release online.

As of 8 November, 16 nations have ratified the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005. It will enter into force three months after the the 30th nation has ratified. According to Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura" “No other UNESCO Convention concerning culture has been ratified by so many States in such a short time.”

UNESCO now administers of a range of standard setting instruments in the field of culture including three Conventions – concerning world heritage (1972), intangible heritage (2003), and the diversity of cultural expressions (2005).

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions should be of special interest with respect to the Communications and Information program of UNESCO, since it deals so extensively with the cultural impact of the globalization of the media.

UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize: Call for nominations

Significant contributions to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage are now being sought to be nominated for the second UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize.

The Prize of US$30 000 was created to commemorate the inscription of the Buljo jikji simche yojeol, the oldest known book of movable metal print in the world, in the Memory of the World Register. The Jikji is the second volume of "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings". It contains the essentials of Zen Buddhism compiled by Baegun, a priest. This book was printed at the old Heungdeok-sa temple in Cheongju city, using movable metal type in July 1377. The book was printed in two volumes: the first volume has yet to be found and the second volume is being kept in the National Library of France. View the Digital Jikji.

The Prize is awarded every two years to individuals or institutions in recognition of their contribution to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage as a common heritage of humanity. Funded by the Republic of Korea through arrangements made with the Municipal Council of Cheongju City, this Prize was approved by UNESCO’s Executive Board in April 2004.

Nominations to this second edition of the Prize should be submitted by 31 December 2006. Each nomination must include, in English or French, a description of the candidate’s background and achievements, a summary of the work submitted for consideration and a review of the way in which this work has contributed to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage.

Nominations can be submitted to UNESCO by completing the online nomination form.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nobel Committee Broadens Definiton of Peace

©Banker to The Poor, Autobiography of Prof. Muhammad Yunus

Michael Renner, a Senior Researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, comments on the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize award. >>Full article

Alfred Nobel stated that the Prize be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses ”. Though the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s latest decision is grounded on a more modern principle; that “peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.”

The 2006 Peace Prize, -awarded to micro-credit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded-, may indeed draw criticism from traditional security analysts. Yet, although disarmament, conflict prevention, and reconciliation remain crucial in achieving peace, the nature of conflict has changed. And so did the variables of peace.

Working towards a conception of peace that is more than the mere absence of war demands a commitment to sustainable development, equity, and participatory democracy. We need to enhance our comprehension of the ways in which a multitude of social, economic, environmental, and demographic pressures interact, and how these dynamics play out in light of ethnic and political fault lines.

© Worldwatch Institute/ Eye on Earth

Monday, November 06, 2006

Alice Ilchman; Advisor to Americans for UNESCO

Alice Stone Ilchman was a member of the Advisory Council of Americans for UNESCO, sharing her great knowledge and experience in education and international affairs. She died in August at her Bronxville home from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was 71. We mourn her loss.

Dr. Ilchman was dean at Wellesley College for five years and president of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., for 17. She was appointed dean of the college and professor of economics and education at Wellesley in 1973. Dr. Ilchman was instrumental in establishing Wellesley's Center for Research on Women. Her accomplishments while she was at the helm of Sarah Lawrence from 1981 to 1998 were many. Her legacy includes two new buildings, 10 faculty chairs, three overseas programs, and stronger fiscal health.

During her tenure at Sarah Lawrence, Dr. Ilchman received an Honorary Doctorate from Mt. Holyoke College (1982), the Maternity Association Carola Warburg Rothschild Award (1991), the Maxwell "Spirit of Public Service Award" (1994), The Wellesley College Distinguished Service Award (1995), a Fulbright Honor (1996), and the Alice Ilchman Award for Public Service (1998).

She served as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs during the Carter administration for two years, with responsibility for the newly created United States Information Agency, the Fulbright program, US libraries abroad, and the international visitor program.

For 13 years, she was a member of the board of the Rockefeller Foundation. At the time of her death, she was director of the Jeannette K. Watson Fellows program, which creates paid summer internships for first-generation college students in New York City.

She had a long interest in and association with India. In 1962 and 1963, she and her husband lived in Delhi and Rajasthan, while she worked on her dissertation on rural development in India for the London School of Economics. She lived in Delhi again in 1968 and 1969. While at the University of California at Berkeley, she directed three Peace Corps training projects for India and co-taught the school's first interdisciplinary South Asian studies course.

Dr. Ilchman graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1957 and was a member of its board of trustees for 10 years. She earned her master's degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and her doctorate from the London School of Economics and Politics in 1965.

In addition to her husband and son, Dr. Ilchman leaves a daughter, Sarah, of New York City; two sisters, Nancy Dickinson of Indianapolis and Elizabeth Stone of Los Angeles; and a brother, Donald C. Stone Jr. of Oakland, Calif.

Read obituaries from:
* The Boston Globe

* Sarah Lawrence College

* The New York Times

* The Washington Post