SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Globalization and the rapid evolution of science and technology carry with them a multitude of challenges and social, economic and humanitarian consequences. Science is a powerful tool for understanding the world in which we live, and can directly enhance the quality of our lives. Yet these scientific advances can, in some cases, endanger life on our planet. UNESCO's current work in the natural, social, and human sciences seeks to address the issues humanity faces, with a focus on: Promoting principles and ethical norms to guide scientific progress, technological development and social transformation; Improving human security by better management of the environment and social change; Enhancing scientific, technical and human capacities to participate in the emerging knowledge societies.1 The Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge, which was adopted at the World Conference on Science organized by UNESCO in Budapest in 1999, played a major role in defining UNESCO’s objectives in terms of the Natural, Social and Human Sciences. By approving the Declaration, the delegations brought three key principles into focus: science for knowledge, knowledge for progress; science for peace and development; and science in society, science for society. The Declaration not only underscores that universal access to scientific knowledge is important, but also that science and technology are essential to development, with scientific knowledge in the service of all, to organize and develop mutually beneficial international cooperation.2 In sciences, UNESCO is seeking to improve relations between peoples and their environment. It was within this context that UNESCO formed The Program on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), an interdisciplinary programme directed at finding ways to respond to human needs and ensure the long-term viability of local resources while preserving the biodiversity of the different types of ecosystems.3 The transdisciplinary and intersectoral nature of UNESCO’s mandate in the fields of education, science, culture and communication and information allows the Programme to promote scientific research and better understand traditional forms of resource use. The biosphere reserves, 13 of which are in Canada, are a key component toward achieving Programme objectives.4 The International Hydrological Program, the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) and the International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) also serve as tools to achieve the objectives in the Natural Sciences sector. UNESCO document 31C/4, Medium-Term Strategy 2002-2007: Contributing to peace and human development in an era of globalization through education, the sciences, culture and communication. The document can be found at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001254/125434e.pdf. 2 The text of the Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge is available at http://www.unesco.org/science/wcs/eng/declaration_e.htm 3 For further information on the programme, visit the UNESCO Web site at: http://www.unesco.org/mab/index.htm 4 To consult the list of biosphere reserves in Canada and elsewhere, visit UNESCO’s Web site at http://www.unesco.org/mab/brlistEur.htm 1 In this same vein, the Organization has attached great importance to oceans. The International Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), formed by UNESCO in 1960, has structured the Organization’s work around the following 4 themes: international scientific research programs; coordination of a global system of oceanic observation; educational and training programs and technical assistance; and the efficient and general pooling of oceanic data from research, observation and monitoring.5 The Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS), which was launched at the IOC General Assembly on June 30, 2005, was the result of a pooling of efforts and technologies from various States. This System was implemented swiftly, thanks to the significant innovative research efforts made by UNESCO over the past many years. UNESCO plays a major role as an ethical, philosophical and scientific forum on issues ranging from human security and conflict prevention, to inter-cultural dialogue, citizenship and globalization. UNESCO’s approach to scientific progress places human rights at the centre of its concerns. Increasingly, efforts are directed towards helping national and local governments develop governance policies and structures in multi-cultural societies, stressing social inclusion and the eradication of poverty.6 Sciences, communication and information are now inexorably linked; all while we work to design a world in which people can create freely and share knowledge while realizing their full potential. In the current international context, the importance of new information and communications technologies (ICT) is growing rapidly, offering the possibility for new and exciting exchanges and forms of expressions. To facilitate the sharing of knowledge, access to ICT is of the greatest importance. In 2003, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace in particular to "alleviate language barriers and promote human interaction on the Internet by encouraging the creation and processing of, along with access to, educational, cultural and scientific content in digital form, so as to ensure that all cultures can express themselves and have access to cyberspace in all languages, including indigenous ones" (par. 1).7 UNESCO also launched in 2001 the Intergovernmental Programme “Information for All" (IFA), a platform for international policy discussions to stimulate reflection and action in the information field. The IFA program falls under certain UNESCO priorities, including education for all, the free exchange of ideas and knowledge and more means of communication among peoples. Sciences and ICTs also play a major role in attaining the Millennium Development Goals and in implementing action plans put forward at conferences, such as the Johannesburg and Copenhagen conferences on social development. In fact, as set out in the Marrakech Declaration, everyone everywhere should have the opportunity to participate in the UNESCO Web site, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission: http://ioc.unesco.org/iocweb/index.php 6 Excerpt available on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Web site, Natural, Social and Human Sciences at: http://www.unesco.ca/en/activity/sciences/default.aspx 7 The full text of the Recommendation is available at: http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.phpURL_ID=13475&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html 5 Information Society and to take advantage of its benefits. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) as well as media must be a fulcrum for equitable access to sustainable development. This principle of inclusion is also found in the Geneva Declaration from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), in which participants reiterated their commitment to “the achievement of sustainable development and agreed development goals, as contained in the Johannesburg Declaration and Plan of Implementation and the Monterrey Consensus, and other outcomes of relevant United Nations Summits”. 8 The 2nd Summit, which was held in Tunis in 2005, reiterated this link in recognizing in the Tunis Engagement that “the ICT revolution can have a tremendous positive impact as an instrument of sustainable development. In addition, an appropriate enabling environment at national and international levels could prevent increasing social and economic divisions, and the widening of the gap between rich and poor countries, regions, and individuals— including between men and women” (par.13). 9 Finally, the fight against racism, discrimination and xenophobia, related to sustainable development, is also of greatest importance. The UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Sector, in particular, has been very active on this issue. Following the call for action to fight against racism, discrimination and xenophobia of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban (South Africa) from August 31 to September 8, 2001, UNESCO launched in 2004 an International Coalition of Cities Against Racism. The Coalition aims at establishing a network of cities interested in sharing experiences to improve their policies in the fight against racism, discrimination and xenophobia. The Canadian Coalition was launched in 2005 and is growing quickly. Fifteen municipalities, including Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary, have joined so far. The Declaration can be found at http://www.itu.int/wsis/documents/doc_multi.asp?lang=en&id=1161|1160 9 The Tunis Engagement is available at http://www.itu.int/wsis/documents/doc_multi.asp?lang=en&id=2266|2267 8 QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER What types of projects, approaches or activities seem to demonstrate an interesting/efficient use of science and technologies for sustainable development? Which ones should be encouraged? Developed? What role could young Canadians play in this context? In your opinion, what would be the « new challenges » in the area of science and technology for sustainable development? (Ex. ethical questions, brain drain, etc.) What role should scientific cooperation have in the promotion of a Culture of Peace and international solidarity? How could that cooperation be maximised? What would be the best ways to reinforce international scientific cooperation on climate change? How can capacities in sciences and technology act as leverage for sustainable development at the national level? How could these capacities be reinforced in Canada?