World Science Forum opens in BudapestThe World Science Forum, organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, UNESCO and the International Council for Science (ICSU), opened today in Budapest (Hungary). Some 400 scientists, political decision-makers, and representatives of non-governmental organizations and private enterprise are attending the event, which continues through to November 12 on the theme Knowledge, Ethics and Responsibility.
The opening of the Forum coincides with the World Science Day for Peace and Development, celebrated each November 10. The event was also marked today by the presentation of UNESCO’s science prizes.
In his address to the Forum thismorning, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said: “While recognizing that the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake has been and continues to be one of the most noble and creative human motivations, we can no longer consider knowledge as a simple external tool in relation to the ends which we have set outselves. […] The questions we have to address today are: Knowledge for what? What is the impact of knowledge and human welfare and on living organisms, the environment and future generations? How should knowledge be developed and applied so that its impact is beneficial and enhances both human dignity and human potential?”
The World Science Forum will discuss the approaches taken by scientists and decision-makers, capacity building, the role of the private sector, educating future generations and the future of the environment. UNESCO has organized two special sessions during the Forum. The first, co-organized with ISESCO, will discuss “Science for a Democratic World: the role of parliaments”. The second, organized with the Israeli-Palestinian Science Organization (IPS0) will discuss “Science for Peace”. On this first day of the Forum, seven UNESCO science prizes were awarded.
The 2005 Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science was awarded to Jeter Jorge Bertoletti (Brazil). Professor at the Pontific Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS) Jeter Jorge Bertoletti is also founder and director of the university’s science and technology musem, which is now the biggest science museum in South America. In 2001, he launched the Itinerant Museum Project. This museum in a truck proposes exhibitions, experiments and conferences to communities in Rio Grande do Sul. Jeter Jorge Bertoletti has also published numerous articles in a range of reviews, periodicals and annals.
The Kalinga Prize, created by the Kalinga Foundation Trust (India) is awarded annually to encourage dialogue between scientists and the general public.
The Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology has been awarded to Professor Khatijah Binti Mohamad Yusoff (Malaysia) from the Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor. She is involved in vaccine research and research on poultry virus and the Newcastle Disease Virus and is a member of numerous national and international scientific organizations. The Carlos J. Finlay Prize, is named after a famous 19th century Cuban biologist and is funded by a grant from the Government of Cuba.
The Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists has been awarded to Professor Dong-Lai Feng (China), from the Fudan University in Shanghai. At the age of 33, he already leads the research group of complex quantum systems, which is part of the Shanghai Laboratory of Advanced Materials. His research covers superconductivity, strongly correlated systems, magnetism, nano-science and development of new techniques such as laser photo-emission and resonant soft x-ray scattering. He has made significant contributions to current understanding of high temperature superconductivity. The Javed Husain Prize for Young Scientists was established in 1984 with a donation by Professor Javed Husain of India. The prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding pure and applied research carried out by young scientists under 35 years of age.
The UNESCO Science Prize has been won this year by Professor Alexander Balankin (Mexico), from the National Polytechnic Institute, for his work on fractal mechanics and improving exploration techniques for the oil industry. A Mexican citizen born in Russia, he founded the National Interdisciplinary Research Group “Fractal mechanics” and the Escuela Superior de Ingeniería Mécánica y Eléctrica.
The Great Man-made River International Water Prize is awarded to Dr. Sayyed Ahang Kowsar (Iran) who has devoted his life to developing and implementing floodwater spreading and harvesting as a means of recharging aquifers and improving environmental quality. The prize is awarded in recognition of fundamental and substantial contributions to the assessment, development, management and/or use of water resources in arid and semi-arid areas. It is funded through a donation from the Government of Libya.
The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation is awarded jointly to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority of Australia and to Dr Ernesto Enkerlin-Hoelflich (Mexico). The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is the principal advisory to the Australian Government on the planning and management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ernesto Enkerlin-Hoeflich is the President of the National Commission on Natural Protected Areas of Mexico. Under his leadership, five new Mexican biosphere reserves had been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation rewards outstanding contributions by individuals or groups of individuals, institutions or organizations in the preservation of the environment, and is funded through a donation from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said of Oman.
The Institut Pasteur-UNESCO Medal is awarded to Professor Mireille Carmen Dosso (Côte d’Ivoire). As Director of the Institut Pasteur of Côte d’Ivoire, she has been active in research and prevention activities in the area of HIV-AIDS as well as other tropical diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and poliomyelitis. The award is presented for outstanding and innovative contributions to health, fermentation, agriculture and food.