Monday, March 29, 2010

UC Davis helping Biosphere Reserve in Uruguay

University of California, Davis, scientists are helping rice farmers in Uruguay stop polluting their waterways -- including drinking-water sources and a globally valuable nature reserve.

With funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, the UC Davis researchers helped Uruguayan university colleagues devise a simple water test that tells whether it is safe to drain flooded rice fields.

The test checks for the herbicide clomazone, which is used on 78 percent of Uruguay's rice fields.

Developing best rice-farming practices to avoid release of toxic chemicals to the environment is especially urgent in Uruguay, because water drained from the country's main area of rice cultivation flows into the marshlands of the Eastern Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de Biosfera Humedales del Este). This reserve is managed as part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Program, which promotes environmentally sustainable human development.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Slovak representative visits with UNESCO Center for Peace

Photo by Travis Pratt
Michal Pavuk, head of the political section for the Embassy of Slovakia, center, speaks Thursday morning with Guy Djoken, executive director of UNESCO Center for Peace, at the Bernard Brown Community Center in Frederick.

Source: Frederick News Post

Michal Pavuk, head of the political section for the Embassy of Slovakia, nn Thursday visited the the UNESCO Center for Peace, a UNESCO club in Frederick Maryland.
Guy Djoken, executive director of the UNESCO center, said he invited Pavuk, along with several other foreign ambassadors, as a way to brin

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rita Colwell Wins The Stockholm Water Prize

Rita Colwell, a Professor working with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, has won the Stockholm Water Prize worth $150,000, for conducting a research on finding techniques to prevent Cholera and other waterborne illnesses.

Dr. Colwell is a member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO. She has had a long and distinguished career, including serving as the Director of the National Science Foundation, President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Congratulations Rita!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

21 March

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Cyberschool LInk

Monday, March 15, 2010

Museum of Biodiversity to Open in Panama

The Museum of Biodiversity is to be opened in Panama this year, in a spectacular building designed by Architect Frank Gehry. The Museum will be an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. This year is also:
The Smithsonian has long provided global leadership in the science of biodiversity and it is quite appropriate that it is supporting the creation of this spectacular new facility in a country in which it has had so long and importance a scientific presence.

UNESCO is joining the Convention on Biological Diversity, the lead UN body for the IYB, to make the IYB an effective instrument to advance the cause of biodiversity conservation. During the Year, UNESCO will lead several activities which aim to educate and to raise public awareness on the reasons for conserving biodiversity, to fill the gaps in our knowledge of biodiversity and to catalyze further international action for its sustainable use.

This is the year to renew and reaffirm U.S. commitment to international collaboration on the science of biodiversity, and especially to UNESCO's program titled "People, Biodiversity and Ecology".

John Daly
The opinions expressed in this posting are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Americans for UNESCO.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Evaluation of Learning and Development at UNESCO

UNESCO’s Internal Oversight Service (IOS) contracted Cathexis Consulting to carry out an evaluation to assess the relevance of UNESCO’s learning and development policy in meeting the current and future needs of the Organization. The study was also to evaluate the effectiveness and key results of the policy's associated activities. The evaluation was intended to identify strengths as well as to determine where changes are needed and to recommend actions to be taken by the key stakeholders. The evaluation was expected to make recommendations with respect to the appropriateness of its policy as well as to the implementation process.
Learning and development has advanced tremendously in UNESCO since 2004 when the learning and development policy was developed. In the space of five years, UNESCO has thus moved from very minimal attention on learning and development to implementing a suite of training programmes made possible through a dedicated learning and development funding envelope each biennium.
The evaluation found that the learning and development policy is generally consistent with recognized good practice; however, its actual implementation needs further attention. The authors of the report noted that the budget for implementation of the learning and development policy was reduced from the 2006-7 biennium to the 2008-9 biennium, and further reduced for the current 2010-11 biennium. It recommended that the College of Associate Directors General review the policy and its implementation.

Authors: Martha McGuire (Team Leader), David MacCoy and Burt Perrin, January 2010. (PDF, 64 pages)

Comment: I was surprised that UNESCO had not had a formal policy for staff development and learning until 2004, and most surprised that an organization built around its expertise in education had not done better in implementing the policy. The reduction in resources devoted to learning and organizational development seems inappropriate. JAD

Monday, March 08, 2010

An Interview with E. O. Wilson

2010 has been named as the International Year of Biodiversity, and UNESCO is commemorating the year with a number of activities. Edward O. Wilson was the Key Note Speaker for the inaugural event. The Harvard scientist was an excellent choice for the honor because of his decades of leadership in scientific and public efforts to increase understanding of the crisis in biodiversity and the need to take action to halt the extinction of species. Having won two Pulitzer Prizes, Professor Wilson is also eloquent in his passion for the subject.

I quote from the interview UNESCO published with Dr. Wilson:
Q. Is it already too late to avert disaster?

A. It is not too late to stem and then halt the extinction of species and the ecosystems they compose. We are certainly too late to save some of them, but global action now can keep the final loss to a minimum. Science and technology will be a crucial part of the solution. Although vertebrates, corals, plants are reasonably well known, and form the basis of current conservation practice, the great majority of insect and other invertebrates remain unknown to science, as well as almost all bacteria and other microorganisms. These latter "Little things that run the world" are crucial to the survival of the larger creatures, including ourselves. We need a major initiative to explore the little known planet on which we live, in order to preserve its life. We also need to know far more about the life cycles and ecological relationships of both the known and unknown species. The science to achieve this should be fed directly into innovations in conservation as well as to advance technology in many fields.

A New UNESCO Center

The UNESCO Executive Board is expected to approve, at its next meeting in early April, the proposal to create a Category 2 Center Regional Research and Documentation for Women, Gender and Peace Building in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo reaffirmed its willingness to host the center.

2010 Women in Science Laureates

Discover the 2010 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureates in life sciences. 5 amazing women. 5 world regions. 5 scientific breakthroughs for a better world...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

“The World’s Challenge to Education”

Karl Earl Mundt (June 3, 1900 – August 16, 1974) was an American educator and a Republican member of the United States Congress, representing South Dakota in the United States House of Representatives from 1938 to 1948 and in the United States Senate from 1948 to 1973. Representative Karl Mundt was a critical supporter of UNESCO and was a primary figure in urging the United States to join UNESCO. It is possible that, without his urging and support, the United States may not have joined. Mundt gave several speeches on UNESCO and the importance of joining UNESCO. These are excerpts from Mundt’s speech at the UNESCO founding meeting:
“After all, we educators have a special responsibility in this postwar era not only because we have this vast and valuable human raw material with which to work and not only because the world is more and more turning away from wars and the weapons of wars as a means of procuring proper human behavior in international affairs. Basically, we have a special responsibility to meet the great new challenge which is now ours in helping the world learn how to control the terrible new force unloosed in its midst because, I the final analysis, the atomic bomb was conceived by scientists whom our profession had educated.”

“It is not the noble pronouncements of princes and potentates which preserve the peace – it is the attitude which men have in their hearts and express in private conversations which actually count. It is to be hoped that eventually a code of international good behavior can be conceived through the operation of UNESCO so that boys and girls throughout the world may be taught the basic concepts of tolerance, justice, order, and peace-preserving international behavior. Greater by far than the dissimilarities of race, color, creed economic, governmental, and political concepts as well as geographical differences are the similarities which exist among human beings everywhere. UNESCO will strive to harness these similarities together into a great invincible phalanx which will hold at bay the future dogs of war.”(15)

“In establishing the University of Virginia, the great Thomas Jefferson selected as a motto for the institution, ‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’ UNESCO is designed to help people throughout the world to learn the truth. In the final analysis the truth – better than any other single factor – can help free this world from war forever.”

Editorial: The Government Should Not Impose Staff on UNESCO for Political Reasons

Colum Lynch has published an article titled "The Decline of the International Civil Servant" inForeign Policy magazine stating:
The U.N. practice of hiring political appointees has ensured American, French, and British dominance of key U.N. jobs in management, peacekeeping and political affairs. But it has chipped away at the U.N. ideal of the impartial international civil servant, loyal to the founding principles of the U.N., and not beholden to the state that helped get them the job.
He cites the United States Government as one among several nations pressuring the United Nations to employ politically-connected citizens:
Earlier this month, Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, circulated a letter nominating a single candidate, Tony Lake, to lead the U.N. Children's Fund, an organization that receives most of its funds from the United States, when President Bush's candidate, Ann Veneman, steps down in April. It remains unlikely that Ban, who is ostensibly responsible for hiring the UNICEF chief, will challenge Rice.
UNESCO's Secretariat should consist of international civil servants chosen for their ability to carry out UNESCO's mission. It is especially important that its senior staff -- Assistant Directors General and Director Grade officers -- not only leaders with unchallenged expertise, but officials whose devotion to the organisation is above suspicion. Moreover, UNESCO's important functions depend on the large numbers of educators, scientists and cultural leaders who provide advice and council through UNESCO's committees and boards without pay. They too must be chosen according to the needs for expert advice and not due to the political pressure applied by UNESCO member states.

It is especially important at this moment that UNESCO have both the freedom and incentive to choose well, as the new Director General is in the process of recruiting her Assistant Directors General. He cabinet will have enormous influence on the ability of the organization to carry out its import mission effectively and efficiently.

We expect the United States Permanent Delegation to UNESCO to be vigilant in seeing that UNESCO chooses the very best team possible. Of course, the Permanent Delegation should assure that qualified Americans are considered for positions in the Secretariat and for advisory spots in UNESCO advisory bodies. Indeed the Government, National Commission and Permanent Delegation should seek to assure that there is a strong representation of Americans in UNESCO. They should do so primarily by working to assure that there are very highly qualified American applicants considered for all relevant posts.

The United States should use its considerable influence in UNESCO governing bodies to insist that UNESCO resist pressures from member states and their delegates to bypass competitive processes in appointment. Our Permanent Delegation to UNESCO should seek to enlist allies among other Delegations in that process. It can only do so effectively if it is above suspicion, so that it is doubly important that it not apply inappropriate pressures on UNESCO.

John Daly
The editorial opinions expressed above are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.

International Women's Day 2010

Every year in March, UNESCO celebrates International Women’s Day (March 8) by hosting a flagship program, consisting of round-tables, conferences, exhibitions and cultural events that highlight issues relating to the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality.
Click here for a description of all the events organised by the Division for Gender Equality of the Bureau of Strategic Planning.
A debate on “Gender Equality, Education and Training”, which took place over four weeks between 457 women and men from all corners of the globe, proved so successful, it is to be prolonged. the debate will continue until the High-level Event held by the United Nations General Assembly on the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals in September 2010.

U.S. Scientist Wins L'OREAL-UNESCO Science Prize

Elaine Fuchs, Professor at the Laboratory of Cellular Biology of The Rockefeller University was awarded the prize “for the discovery of stem cells and key processes involved in skin development, maintenance and repair”. The prize, one of five awarded each year to outstanding women scientists, includes $100,000 for the recipient.

The Science Prizes and 15 international UNESCO-L’Oréal Fellowships were awarded last week at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

According to Rockefeller University:
Dr. Fuchs received her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1972 and her Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1977 from Princeton University. She was a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1977 to 1980. Dr. Fuchs was the Amgen Professor of Basic Sciences at The University of Chicago before coming to Rockefeller in 2002. She was named the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor the same year. She has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1988.

Dr. Fuchs has received a number of honors and awards, including the Bering Award and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Award for Scientific Excellence in 2006, the Dickson Prize in Medicine in 2004, the Novartis/Drew Award in Biomedical Research in 2003, the Cartwright Award from Columbia University in 2002 and the Women in Cell Biology Senior Women’s Career Achievement Award in 1997. In 1994 Dr. Fuchs was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2005 and the NAS in 1995. She was named one of the Nation’s Outstanding Scientists by the White House in 1985 and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Illinois and the Mount Sinai and New York University Medical Schools.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

U.S. Opinion on the United Nations

"Americans told the United Nations in Gallup Poll results released on Feb.19 that the UN must do better. Only 31 percent of the respondents thought that the international body is “doing a good job,” up from 26 percent the previous year, marking the highest approval rating since 2005, when George W. Bush was president."

While the poll applies to the United Nations per se rather than directly to UNESCO, it seems likely that opinions of UNESCO which is much less known in the United States are heavily influenced by opinions of the UN. There poll indicated that Republicans had more negative views of the UN than did Democrats, with Independents in an intermediate position.

Source: "US Public to UN: We Support You But Do Better," By John Washburn, UNA-USA World Bulletin, March 2010.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Conference on UNESCO and the Cold War

A conference on UNESCO’s links with the Cold War, organized by the International Scientific Committee for the UNESCO History Project, will be hosted by the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCAS), University of Heidelberg, (Germany) on 4-5 March 2010.

The Symposium, which is part of a cycle of conferences on the history of UNESCO, will address a number of issues, such as the influence of the Cold War on UNESCO, and the role the Organization was able to play in easing tensions between the two opposing blocs.

Read more!

Among participants in the meeting are:
  • Leland Conley Barrows, Professor, Voorhees College, United States
  • Christian Ostermann, Director, Cold War International History Project (CWIHP), United States
  • Jacob Darwin Hamblin, Department of History, Oregon State University, United States

UNESCO launches Women Make the News 2010

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), UNESCO joins forces with international and regional media organizations to launch the annual Women Make the News (WMN) initiative. Under the theme “Towards Gender Sensitive Indicators for Media: Best Practices for Gender Perspective in Media and in Media Content”, WMN 2010 is intended to initiate a global exchange on the importance and the need for gender sensitive indicators for media organizations.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The UNESCO Multimedia Archives

The UNESCO Multimedia Archives provide viewers with a number of videos produced by UNESCO in support of its mission in the promotion of education, science, culture and communications in the pursuit of peace.