Thursday, February 28, 2008

Great Man-Made River International Water Prize

In December, Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, awarded the Great Man-Made River International Water Prize to a research team composed of specialists from the Center for the Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) at the University of Arizona, and the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing (CHRS) at the University of California, Irvine.

The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has proposed and sponsored the establishment of the Prize. The Prize recognizes the achievements of an individual, a group of individuals or a research institution having made fundamental and substantial contributions to the assessment, development, management and/or use of water resources in arid and semi-arid areas. More particularly, it rewards remarkable scientific research and scientific studies and discoveries in the field of exploration of groundwater and surface water usage in arid zones subject to drought and desertification and contributing to environmental and human development.

The Prize is awarded biennially by the Director-General of UNESCO and comprises a certificate, a medal and a financial award.


In cooperation with UNESCO-IHP, CHRS, who is a founding member of the Water and Development Information for Arid Lands- A Global Network (G-WADI), has been developing several online data access and visualization tools that allow hydrologist to access high resolution precipitation estiamates in real and near-real time.

G-WADI GeoServer Components.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Annual Meeting

The next meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will be held on May 21-22, 2007. Planning is in progress now for that meeting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rita Colwell Calls for Science Debate Among Presidential Candidates

Dr. Rita Colwell, a member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO, made this video as part of an effort broadly supported in the U.S. scientific community to encourage a debate on science among the candidate in the U.S. presidential election. The video is being widely distributed and viewed. Dr. Colwell is also the former Director of the National Science Foundation 1998-2004; Distinguished Professor, University Of Maryland/Johns Hopkins University School Of Public Health. She was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2006.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

UNESCO at the AAAS Annual Meeting

The 2008 AAAS Annual Meeting is being held on 14-18 February 2008 in Boston. The theme for the meeting — "Science and Technology from a Global Perspective"— emphasizes the power of science and technology as well as education to assist less developed segments of the world society, to improve partnerships among already-developed countries, and to spur knowledge-driven transformations across a host of fields.

The UNESCO-AAAS Workshop, "Science and Engineering Education: Global Perspectives, Key Challenges", will take place on Monday, 18 February, as part of the meeting. Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director General of UNESCO for natural science, will provide opening remarks and a presentation on “Framing the Issues, Seeking Solutions”.

There is also the Women and Minorities in Science Networking Breakfast 7:00—10:00am on Saturday 16Feb at the Sheraton Boston, where the UNESCO Report on “Science, Technology and Gender” will be presented.

Evaluations of UNESCO International Science Programs

UNESCO regularly does evaluations of its programs. Recent evaluations of science programs include:

Premiere of “Amazing Grace” at UNESCO

Ambassadors Oliver and Landymore at the screening of “Amazing Grace.”
© USUNESCO / Photo: Anne Turnacliff

The U.S. and the U.K delegations co-hosted the French Premiere of “Amazing Grace” at UNESCO on February 6, 2008, and were joined by the film’s producer, Philip Anschutz, who spoke about the film and his dedication to creating movies that engage wide-ranging audiences on stories of hope and courage.

The film is based on the life of British antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce. It was produced by Philip Anschutz, an American, and was directed by the U.K.'s Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough, Coal Miner's Daughter).

UNESCO and Press Freedom

In the past decade, more than 1000 media professionals have been killed in the exercise of their profession. There is a worrying tendency of increased political pressure in many countries. UNESCO promotes freedom of the press as a basic human right.

Director-General condemns murder of Pakistani journalist Abdus Samad Chishti Mujahid
UNESCO’s Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura condemned today the murder of Pakistani journalist Abdus Samad Chishti Mujahid, photographer and columnist for the weekly “Akhbar-e-Jehan”, who was gunned down on 9 February in Quetta, the province of Baluchistan’s capital.
Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Hisham Mijawet Hamdan
Koïchiro Matsuura condemned the murder of Iraqi journalist, Hisham Mijawet Hamdan, who was kidnapped on 10 February and subsequently tortured and executed in Baghdad.

Director-General condemns murder of Nepalese journalist Pushkar Bahadur Shrestha

UNESCO’s Director-General condemned today the murder of Nepalese journalist Pushkar Bahadur Shrestha, killed on 12 January 2008 near the southern city of Birgunj.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System

UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is coordinating an international effort to create an early warning system for the Indian Ocean, that will ameliorate the damage from future tsunamis. it is one of the few good results of the tsunami that devastated ocean front areas around the Indian Ocean on December 28, 2004.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding a two-year, $16.6 million U.S. Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (US IOTWS) Program in support of the IOC effort. It is being implemented by a USAID-led consortium of five U.S. government agencies.. More than 100 U.S.-funded experts and scientists
worked on the project.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Evaluation of UNESCO Anticipation and Foresight Programme

UNESCO’s Anticipation and Foresight program is intended to strengthen the Organization’s intellectual, ethical and strategic watch function – foresight activities are an integral part of UNESCO’s function as a “laboratory of ideas”. Two main activities were undertaken, namely: (i) development and publication of the UNESCO World Report, dedicated every two years to a new theme; and (ii) organizing the Twenty-first Century Talks and Dialogues, forums for prospective reflection and future-oriented debate that gathers together leading figures from different regions of the world. The UNESCO World Report was not included in the scope of the evaluation because it was considered too early to measure results and impact due to its recent release. The evaluators undertook documentary review and semi-structured interviews with UNESCO staff as well as with a variety of stakeholders.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Symposium on Comparative Analysis of National Research Systems

The Symposium on Comparative Analysis of National Research Systems was held in UNESCO headquarters in Paris, 16-18 January 2008. it provided a venue of discussion on the basis of Professors’ Johann Mouton and Roland Waast studies on knowledge and research systems of 52 low and middle-income countries. About 130 experts were invited to compare and exchange knowledge and views on the methodology and the quality of the country reviews.

The meeting publications provide a mapping of research systems, with special emphasis on national policies, infrastructure, human capacities and investment. The other objective of the meeting was to highlight the importance of launching a flexible template with appropriate indicators that may be used by interested countries to give them the opportunity to study their research systems and to compare them on a wider scale with the view of identifying priority needs for policy making and capacities building.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Support for IYL 2008

There is a useful new website created by Don Osborn providing support for the International Year of Languages (2008). It is a temporary webpage for gathering information on strategies and methods for supporting the IYL.

UNESCO has an official portal page:

2008, International Year of Languages: Languages matter!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

World Congress of Biosphere Reserves

The future of biosphere reserves was at heart of the third World Congress of Biosphere Reserves which took place in Madrid (Spain) from 4 to 9 February. Its purpose: take stock of the current Biosphere Reserves Program and define objectives for the five years ahead.

More on MAB and Biosphere Reserves

My last two posting were on the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program of UNESCO, the U.S. MAB Program, and U.S. Biosphere Reserves within the international MAB network of biosphere reserves. Here are some more materials about the program and bioreserves.
Yellowstone: one of the U.S. Biosphere Reserves

MAB Biosphere Reserves in the Continental United States

Man and the Biosphere and Biosphere Researves

The Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program is one of UNESCO's most important scientific programs. It also seems to be one of the most misunderstood by certain factions within the United States. The worldwide network of bioresearves that has been created under the program provides a global network of living laboratories where mankind is learning to preserve and protect our biological resources, while using them in a sustainable fashion.

There is an old saying:
The history of civilization is written in shifting sands.
Many civilizations have risen and then fallen, and sometimes we can barely find their remains because they are covered in desert sands. Increasingly, evidence is gathering that the fall of civilizations often came when their demands on their environment exceeded what those environments could sustainably provide. Sometimes, the failure was due to a series of bad years, as do occur everywhere, which the society could no longer survive. Sometimes a new society with a better way to sustainably exploit the environmental resources was able to reclaim the land once lost, and sometimes not.

All responsible scientists agree that prudence demands that mankind learn how to better manage our environment to assure our civilization now and in the future is sustainable. Globalization, and the increasing ability of mankind to change our environment have resulted in a situation in which the concern for the environment is global, and not simply that of the local environment of a regionally constrained society.

The MAB program involves networks a global community of scientists studying sustainable development in a wide variety of ecosystems. There is a distinguished team of scientists forming the U.S. Man and the Biosphere Committee, including people serving on key government agencies. Indeed, the Department of State continued to fund U.S. researchers on Man and the Biosphere during the years in which we were not members of UNESCO.

The Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve is a partnership of
13 protected areas in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

Of special interest is the network of 243 Biosphere Reserves in 33 countries, which are sites that are selected by a peer review process for long term research and analysis. Here is a list of the 47 bioreserves nominated by the U.S. government and approved for inclusion in the network. Most, you will note, are either national parks, national forests, or other protected, government-owned sites.

Bioreserve Date of Approval
Aleutian Islands 1976
Big Bend 1976
Cascade Head 1976
Central Plains 1976
Channel Islands 1976
Coram 1976
Denali 1976
Desert 1976
Everglades & Dry Tortugas 1976
Fraser 1976
Glacier 1976
H.J. Andrews 1976
Hubbard Brook 1976
Jornada 1976
Luquillo 1976
Noatak 1976
Olympic 1976
Organ Pipe Cactus 1976
Rocky Mountain 1976
San Dimas 1976
San Joaquin 1976
Sequoia-Kings Canyon 1976
Stanislaus-Tuolumne 1976
Three Sisters 1976
Virgin Islands 1976
Yellowstone 1976
Beaver Creek 1976
Konza Prairie 1978
Niwot Ridge 1979
University of Michigan Biological Station 1979
Virginia Coast 1979
Hawaiian Islands 1980
Isle Royale 1980
Big Thicket 1981
Guanica 1981
California Coast Ranges 1983
Central Gulf Coast Plain 1983
South Atlantic Coastal Plain 1983
Mojave and Colorado Deserts 1984
Carolinian-South Atlantic 1986
Glacier Bay-Admiralty Is. 1986
Golden Gate 1988
New Jersey Pinelands 1988
Southern Appalachian 1988
Champlain-Adirondak 1989
Mammoth Cave Area 1990
Land Between The Lakes Area 1991

Saturday, February 09, 2008

UNESCO and Information Literacy

UNESCO’s action to provide people with the skills and abilities for critical reception, assessment and use of information in their professional and personal lives.

UNESCO’s main strategy in the area of Information Literacy consists of awareness-raising about the importance of information literacy at all levels of the education process – basic education, primary and secondary education, technical and vocational training and lifelong education – and of establishing guidelines for integrating information literacy issues in curricula.

Here are a couple of information literacy program products:

Information Literacy Resources Directory
The Information Literacy Section of the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) has created this database to record information literacy materials from different parts of the world, on behalf of UNESCO.
Understanding Information Literacy: A Primer
"An easy-to-read, non-technical overview explaining what “information literacy” means, designed for busy public policy-makers, business executives, civil society administrators and practicing professionals." Forest Woody Horton, Jr. UNESCO Information for All Program, 2007. (PDF, 103 pages.)

SHS Views 19

The new issue of UNESCO's Social and Human Sciences newsletter is out.

SHS Views 19
2008 – Year of Planet Earth: Mobilizing societies to adapt to climate change / Interview with Koïchiro Matsuura: “Social and Human Sciences play an indispensable role” / Dossier: Social and Human Sciences within National Commissions for UNESCO: Focus on the Philippines – January-March 2008

UNESCO and Knowledge Sharing

Four new publications from UNESCO:

* UNESCO and knowledge sharing
Publ: 2008; 2 p., illus.; BPI/EPP/2008/PI/60M/03.
For over 60 years, UNESCO has had a mandate to “maintain, increase and diffuse knowledge” (Constitution, Art 1. 2 (c)). In response to the challenges of globalisation and the Information Society, it advocates a vision of “Knowledge Societies”. But what do we mean by “knowledge” at UNESCO and what links are there between the Organization’s knowledge sharing programmes and its knowledge management (KM)?
* UNESCO and knowledge sharing (2): the capacity-building function
Publ: 2008; 2 p.; BPI/EPP/2008/PI/60M/04.
The first of this four-part series of meetings examines two case studies, from ED and CI Sectors, to explore key concepts and issues connected with capacity-building.
* UNESCO and knowledge sharing (3): the clearing house function
Publ: 2008; 2 p.; BPI/EPP/2008/PI/60M/05.
The second in this four-part series examines two case studies – one of the longest-standing and one of the newest knowledge sharing initiatives of the Organization – to explore key concepts and issues connected with UNESCO’s role as a clearing house
* ICT-Enabled Knowledge Acquisition
Publ: 2008; BPI/EPP/2008/PI/60M/02.
The Communication and Information Sector's work on ICT-enhanced knowledge acquisition is anchored within the "knowledge mandate" and Constitution of UNESCO. It seeks to develop an integrated work stream, inter-relating with other emphases and competencies within UNESCO. This capacity-building work focuses on four tracks: (1) contentdevelopment, (2) communication infrastructure, (3) capacity-building and (4) innovative applications.

Federico Mayor on the Culture of Peace

Federico Mayor was the previous Director General of UNESCO. He is now Co-chair of the UN Alliance of Civilizations High-level Group and President of the Culture of Peace Foundation. In this short video he talks about the culture of peace.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The New Edition of the UNESCO Courier is Out

More than half of the 7000 languages spoken in the world are in danger of disappearing. Yet, they are an essential part of people's identity. The United Nations has proclaimed 2008 the International Year of Languages. To find out more, read the February issue of the UNESCO Courier.

This year the UNESCO Courier is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It is now interactive! Send your comments and the Courier will publish them.

UNESCO Advocacy for Press Freedom

UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press and fosters media independence and pluralism by providing advisory services on media legislation and by making governments, parliamentarians and other decision-makers aware of the need to guarantee free expression.

In the past decade, more than 1000 media professionals have been killed in the exercise of their profession. There is a worrying tendency of increased political pressure in many countries. UNESCO promotes freedom of the press as a basic human right. It regularly protests acts of violence against members of the press.

Strengthening Cooperation between National Commissions for UNESCO and International/Intergovernmental Scientific Programs

A Workshop on "Strengthening Cooperation between National Commissions for UNESCO and ISPs" was convened in Berlin, 30 January - 1 February 2006 by the German Commission for UNESCO with support from UNESCO. The workshop followed discussions at the 33rd General Conference of UNESCO, and had the aim of delivering robust recommendations for action.

The participants of the Workshop examined national case studies with a view to highlighting best practices and challenges. In doing so, they established consensus that the impact and visibility of UNESCO Science activities and in particular the ISPs at all levels (national, regional and global/inter-regional) can and must be improved.

The conference website provides:

Mr Jim Kulikowski, Deputy Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Cooperation

Jim Kulikowski receives plaque fromMatthew Cooper
at meeting of the UK National Commission

Appointed Deputy Assistant Director General for External Relations and Cooperation in August 2005, Jim Kulikowski leads the UNESCO Division responsible for relations with Member States and for National Commissions as well.

Prior to joining UNESCO, he worked for the U.S. Government for some 21 years. Of those, the first 16 were with the Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, much of it dealing with the State Department and international organizations. Then, after joining the Senior Executive Service in 2000 as a senior career civil servant, he spent five years in Office of Management and Budget, again dealing with international affairs, and 6 months with the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2002, he was detailed to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Geneva for four months during its startup phase, and then worked as part of the U.S. Delegation to the Global Fund in 2004 and 2005.

He also tried a couple of short stints as a lawyer in the private sector.

He has three degrees -- undergraduate, law and public health -- from Harvard University, and a diploma from the Phillips Exeter Academy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Americans for UNESCO News

1. Dr. Stephen Knapp, the new president of George Washington University has join the Americans for UNESCO Advisory Council. Also joining the Advisory Council are Dr. Martin C. Jischke, President Emeritus of Purdue University, and Dr. Sally Mason, President of the University of Iowa.
2. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO announced that its 2008 Annual Meeting would take place on May 19-20 at Georgetown University. Andre Varchaver, the President of Americans for UNESCO is on the Planning Committee for the meeting.

In Memorium: Joshua Lederberg

I'm chairing a UNESCO committee on how to improve global
Internet communications for science; help third-world people
get onto the Net so they can be part of the process.

Joshua Lederberg

Joshua Lederberg, 82, a Nobel Prize winner for his work in bacterial genetics who is known as one of the founders of molecular biology, a discipline that in the past half-century has begun unlocking the secrets of how organisms live and reproduce, died Feb. 2 of pneumonia at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

Dr. Lederberg was awarded the Nobel Prize when he was 33 (for work that he began when he was 21 years old), and for the next half century was a leader in the U.S. and international science communities.

He was well known and greatly respected by members of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO. Irv Lerch wrote:
Josh was a great man. Many of us worked with him for years on a variety of international projects. He was the first Chair of the Soros' International Science Foundation and a great friend of UNESCO. His energy was monumental and he maintained a stable of the best students in microbial genetics at Rockefeller until the end. On entering his office, you were obliged to take a doughnut from the ubiquitous bowl of goodies at the entrance. His intervention in government was critical in defining the hazards on the horizon from issues as disparate as global warming to bioterrorism and when his colleagues explained the origins of "yellow rain" in Southeast Asia, he was the first to debunk the canard that the Vietnamese were engaged in biological warfare.
Notably, Dr. Lederberg was a leader in UNESCO's International Advisory Council on Global Scientific Communications (ACOSC), 1995.

Read his address to the:

Joint ICSU Press/UNESCO Expert Conference on
Electronic Publishing in Science
UNESCO, Paris, 19-23 February 1996

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Human Rights: comments and interpretations; a symposium edited by UNESCO

Last week this blog recognized the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the preparation for the Declaration, UNESCO conducted a worldwide study of the recognized human rights in different societies. The results of that study were published in a book, Human Rights: comments and interpretations; a symposium edited by UNESCO, with a forward by Jacques Maritain, and contributions by Mahatma Gandhi, Harold Laski, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Chung-Shu Lo, Aldous Huxley, Ralph Gerard and other distinguished thinkers. The book has long been out of print.

You may also be interested in

Teaching About the United Nations and

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This is a report from a 1951 regional meeting of National Commissions for UNESCO.