Sunday, September 30, 2007

50th Anniversary of the Space Age

Sputnik 1, the first man made object to be placed in orbit around the earth, was launched on October 4th, 1957. Thus, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of the space age.

The launch of Sputnik 1, coupled with the failure of the United States' first two satellite launch attempts, shocked the United States, which responded with a number of early satellite launches. The so called "Sputnik crisis" also led to the creation of NASA and of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as to major increases in U.S. government spending on scientific research and education. Sputnik shocked the leaders of the U.S. government out of their complacency, and jump started our all but stalled scientific, technological and educational programs.

On the evening of 21 March 2007, UNESCO and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) held a celebration of 50 Years of the Space Age at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris. The celebration featured four distinguished speakers who reflected on what has been achieved in space during the past fifty years and looked ahead to what could be anticipated in the coming half century. The ceremony brought together more than 400 space specialists and high-level managers of national and international space agencies.

Message from the International Space Station.
Delivered at the Paris celebration.

On that date, UNESCO and the IAF also signed a partnership agreement, pledging support for the UNESCO and European Space Agency (ESA) Open Initiative on the use of space technologies to monitor natural and cultural heritage of UNESCO sites.

UNESCO and the International Astronautical Federation had previously initiated activities together, notably a special session at the IAF 2005 Congress (Fukukoa, Japan) and an event during the following Congress in Valencia (Spain).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Biosphere Reserves: Partnership for People and Nature

The video “Biosphere Reserves: Partnership for People and Nature” was created by UNESCO for the Virtual Exhibition web site showcasing sustainable development programmes for the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development. It is the outcome of a successful partnership between UNESCO's Man in the Biosphere (MAB) program and various organizations, like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), sharing the same ambition of conserving biodiversity and promoting the role of populations.

Two short informative videos can be viewed from the UNESCO website.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

UNESCO WSIS Action Directory: How UNESCO is implementing the WSIS Action Plan

UNESCO works with all stakeholders towards the implementation of the outcomes of WSIS.

UNESCO’s role in the implementation process is three-fold:

* UNESCO implements concrete activities included in the Geneva Plan of Action within the framework of its regular programme and budget.

* UNESCO helps facilitating the coherent implementation of the Action Lines in its areas of competence.

* UNESCO, together with ITU and UNDP, is engaged in shaping the overall multi-stakeholder coordination of the Facilitators of all Action Lines

UNESCO Institute for Statistics launches a new global survey on cinema

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has launched a survey to track trends in the production and distribution of feature films. The only global survey of its kind, it covers a range of issues such as the language of films and a breakdown of market shares for national and foreign productions.

The survey was launched in more than 200 countries and territories in early July 2007. Initial results are scheduled for release in 2008 on the UIS website. The findings will also be published in international reports and UNESCO publications. Given the importance of cinema as a cultural expression, the statistics will contribute to the monitoring of issues related to cultural diversity.

Given the importance of the world market to the United States, this may be an economically useful service to our country. Given the importance of movies to the way people view the world, it may be a useful source of information for our leaders in public diplomacy.