Sunday, February 20, 2005

UNESCO: Opportunities Upon US Reentry

The following is a summary provided by Sid Passman of the meeting held on February 19th:

The subject session was attended by about 60 people including a number of AU Directors and several NatComm members, a number of senior people such as the NSF Director (who promised me he would personally follow UNESCO affairs), and Nobelist Leon Lederman, who was probably the oldest person there, but told me he regretted the lack of young participants.!

Speakers included welcome from AAAS' Shere Abbott, Introductions by Barrett Ripin (State),

Amb. Oliver gave an excellent talk about the US interests and UNESCO, followed by ADG Erdelen, who gave a thorough PPT talk covering the entirety of the program, with the details of the Science Sector program. He mentioned a number of US co-efforts and said that the DG would sign an agreement with NASA in Wash. on the 1 March (after his Georgetown U. visit) He thanked the Amb. and her team support for the capacity building review (including the Eng. Community).

Shirley Malcom (AAAS) reviewed Education and her contributions to UNESCO in SciEd. She said she has known Pete Smith for many years and thought he would be a good DG/Ed.

Bruce Alberts, Pres. NAS , covered the Academies' related international interests including assistance to African institutions for science based public service. He gave advice to UNESCO on helping developing country institutions and capacity building, but fell short of offering any direct support.

Terry Garcia (Nat'l. Geographic Society) gave a very graphic review of the Cultural imperatives such as culyural diversity, preservation of languages, heritage (tangible and intangible) and the role of modern technologies in support of preservation.

A discussion period was introduced by Lily Schuermann and led by Rita Colwell, who expressed her own longterm interests in UNESCO programs in the life sciences and microbiology. The discussion was lively and showed the real interest of all for a greater US participation in UNESCO programs, support of the NatComm and its role, and the availability of extra-budgetary supprt (people and resources).

The discussions were followed by a very generous reception which encouraged further discussions.

All in all it was an excellent event and I complimented Dr. Ripin for his organization of the session.

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