The Director-General opens the G8-UNESCO World Forum

The Director-General opens the G8-UNESCO World Forum
  • © UNESCO/K. Pikkat

On 10 May 2007, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, opened, together with the Prime Minister of Italy, Mr Romano Prodi, the G8-UNESCO World Forum on “Education, Research and Innovation: New Partnership for Sustainable Development” in Trieste, Italy.

Mr Giuseppe Fiorini, Minister of Education of Italy; Mr Riccardo Illy, President of the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy; Mr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of ITU; Mr Panitchapakdi Supachai, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and Ms Lamya Ahmad Al-Saqqaf, Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to FAO and Chairperson of the G77, Rome Chapter, also participated in the opening ceremony.

The idea for the organization of the Forum had been born during the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg in 2007, where G8 leaders, recognizing the decisive role of knowledge in today’s societies, had underlined the need for increased efforts to develop and integrate the three elements of the “knowledge triangle” – education, research and innovation. It was in this context that Prime Minister Prodi had offered to host a World Forum in Italy to explore how knowledge can best be used in support of sustainable development and invited UNESCO to join forces in the organization of the meeting.

Bringing together over 600 people from some 60 countries, the 3-day Forum had a truly multi-stakeholder character with representatives from multilateral organizations, members of academic and research communities, as well as government, civil society, industry and the private sector.

In his opening speech at the Forum, the Director-General explained the importance of promoting innovation societies, where all people have access to the education, information and scientific research they need to address fundamental global challenges. To that end, reforms must be made at several levels of society. There is the need to: provide good quality learning opportunities to all; build and sustain human and institutional capacity for science, technology and innovation; nurture human and institutional networks where information and research are freely exchanged; embrace knowledge as a public asset and make it accessible for all; protect and promote indigenous knowledge and linguistic diversity; and build partnerships.

“Partnership also implies making sure that no-one is left behind”, Mr Matsuura elaborated. “Inequalities in wealth, in scientific capacity, in access to education and knowledge: these inequalities are overlapping and need to be tackled together. In working to expand the horizons of discovery, we must never lose sight of the needs of our most marginalized citizens. Nor can we ignore the impact that the scientific and technological advances we make now will have on the long-term sustainability of our planet. For partnership also means, finally, recognizing the interdependence between the present and the future. Knowledge, in all its forms, may be the foundation of development. However, the applications of knowledge through industrial and technological processes have had an ambivalent impact on our world. It is our responsibility to ensure that the drive for innovation is not made at the expense of the well-being of future generations. This extends beyond concern for environmental sustainability, to the social and moral values by which we live our lives”, concluded the Director-General.

During his bilateral meeting with Mr Romano Prodi following the opening ceremony, the Director-General congratulated him on this timely initiative. The Prime Minister and the Director-General agreed on the need for the Forum to focus on specific and clear targets, with a special focus on Africa, that could be brought to the attention of the G8 leaders at the forthcoming Summit in Germany.

The Director-General also expressed his appreciation for Italy’s generous support to UNESCO’s programmes and institutes, in particular those based in Italy – ICTP, BRESCE and TWAS. Prime Minister Prodi extended an invitation to the Director-General to pay an official visit to Italy, which Mr Matsuura accepted with pleasure.

The Forum provided the Director-General with an opportunity to have meetings with Mr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General of ITU; Mr Noah M. Wekesa, Minister of Science and Technology of Kenya; and Mr Zhang Xinsheng, Vice Minister of Education of the People's Republic of China and Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board.

On his way back to Paris, Mr Matsuura visited the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture (BRESCE) in Venice and met with the Office’s staff.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 064-2007
  • 11-05-2007
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