Director-General opens conference on ‘Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology’ in Yokohama, Japan

On 23 August 2006 the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, opened the conference on Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology, the fourth annual conference focusing on issues of globalization, jointly organized by UNESCO and the United Nations University (UNU) since 2003.

In his opening address, the Director-General emphasized that the role of science and technology in globalization had not always received the attention it deserves. Globalization needs to serve human interests and should be of benefit to all: “While globalization may now appear inevitable, the direction and form it takes is something we can – and must – work to shape”, he said. Mr Matsuura underlined that it was one of UNESCO’s main concerns to render globalization more just by empowering people to escape exclusion and discrimination, and by empowering countries to become equal actors in the global arena. To accomplish this, Mr Matsuura stated, science and technology would be key, inter alia by promoting equal access to information and knowledge through the use of information- and communication technologies, and by strengthening developing countries’ institutional capacities to lead and manage scientific research and development. In this context, the Director-General emphasized that a well-functioning and inclusive education system that delivers high quality education for all was a basic precondition for any effective science and technology policy.

Mr Matsuura further suggested that harnessing the full potential of science and technology for sustainable development implied a strong focus on knowledge exchange, networking, and advocacy. UNESCO – in its role as an intellectual clearinghouse and knowledge broker – had a special role, in particular with respect to facilitating cooperation at the international level. The Director-General reminded the audience that it was important to empower those who are often left out of knowledge and science networks, while working to enhance international cooperation, in particular women and youth. Mr Matsuura also stressed the importance of providing science and technology with an ethical underpinning, especially in fast-developing fields like genetics. Efforts here are needed to ensure that science and technology are oriented towards human welfare and are respectful of individual rights. As UNESCO had long advocated, the ethics and responsibility of science should be an integral part of the education and training of all scientists.

Mr Matsuura’s address was followed by remarks of Hans van Ginkel, UNU Rector; Masayoshi Yoshimura, Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Sciences and Akiko Yamanaka, Technology and of Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. Other keynote speakers, presenting an overview of the changing roles of science and technology in peace and development, included Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Her Royal Highness Princess of Thailand; Nagia Essayed, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Turner Isoun, Minister for Science and Technology of Nigeria, Goverdhan Mehta, President of the International Council for Science (ICSU); Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); Ana Maria Cetto, Deputy Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency; Abdel Salam Majali, President of the Islamic Academy of Sciences (IAS) and James Collins, Assistant-Director for the Biological Sciences Directorate, National Science Foundation, USA.

The second conference day is structured around four workshops on the themes of i) knowledge-sharing, ii) trade and technology transfer, iii) society and policy-making, and iv) science and technology education for sustainable development. With a strong inter- agency and expert participation, the conference is expected to result in a set of workable recommendations on to how to harness the transformative power of science and technology for a globalization “with a human face” to the benefit of all.

  • Auteur(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash info n°127-2006
  • 24-08-2006
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