Friday, July 27, 2007

Ethics and human rights in information society

A European regional meeting on the ethical dimensions of the information society is being organized by the French Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with UNESCO and the Council of Europe. It will be the third of a cycle of regional UNESCO conferences on the ethical dimensions of the information society, and a contribution to the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and to the Internet Governance Forum.

The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss and identify the issues considered to be priorities for the European region and to raise stakeholders’ awareness of the ethical issues of information and communication technologies and usages. It will also aim at making a contribution to the UNESCO code of ethics project that was elaborated and discussed during the two previous regional conferences and also in reaching conclusions and operational recommendations intended for all stakeholders.

UNESCO Source Books on Education

Three source books from UNESCO's Asia-Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE).

Learning to Live Together in Peace and Harmony: Values Education for Peace, Human Rights, Democracy and Sustainable Development for the Asia-Pacific Region
(UNESCO-APNIEVE Source Book for Teacher Education and Tertiary Level Education, No. 1)
Bangkok: UNESCO PROAP, 1998, 182 p.

Learning to Be: A Holistic and Integrated Approache to Values Education for Human Development: Core values and the Valuing Process for Developing Innovative Practices for Values Education toward International Understanding and a Culture of Peace
(UNESCO-APNIEVE Source Book No. 2, for Teachers, Students and Tertiary Level Instructors)
Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2002, 183 p.

Learning to Do: Values for Learning and Working Together in a Globalized World
(A UNESCO-APNIEVE Source Book, No. 3 for Trainers, Teachers and Students in the Area of Technical and Vocational Education and Training)
Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 2005, 210 p.

UNESCO Task Force on Education for the Twenty-first Century

UNESCO's Task Force on Education for the Twenty-first Century published it report, titled Learning: the Treasure Within
in 1996. Later it developed this website is to further debate and reflection on the ideas expressed in that report.
Simply speaking, the Commission felt that education throughout life is based upon four pillars: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be.

Education takes place throughout life in many forms, none of which ought to be exclusive. We must start to think about education in a more all-encompassing fashion. Likewise the four pillars cannot stand alone. Without all the four pillars education would not be the same.

More About Champ Ward

Several days ago, we posted an announcement of the death of F. Champion Ward with links to some of the obituaries commemorating his life.

Several of my colleagues who knew him felt that more information was required, calling him one of the great men in the history of international education. Several of us on the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO got considerable boosts in our careers from the Ford Foundation when he was in charge of its education program.

As a further tribute to his memory, let us recommend a report to which he was a (if not the) major contributor:

Report by the International Commission on the Development of Education
Faure, E., Herrera, F., Kaddoura, A-R, Lopes, H., Petrovsky, A.V., Rahnema,
M., & Champion Ward, F. (1972). Learning to Be: The World of Education
Today and Tomorrow. Paris: UNESCO.

This was a truly influential book. Here is its abstract (from the ERIC database):
The report of the International Commission on the Development of Education aims to assist governments in formulating national strategies for the development of education in a changing universe. Emphasis is upon the need for an international community which reflects common problems, trends, and goals; the promotion of democracy through education; the opportunity of every individual for self actualization; and the need for life-long education. The book is arranged into three major parts: Findings, Futures, and Towards a Learning Society. The first part traces the past roots and development of education; examines educational practice today; identifies the needs, resources, and means for education; and suggests a basic reconsideration of educational structures and concepts. The second part examines the challenges of education, including progress in science and technology which offer great potential and knowledge but contribute to problems concerning the distribution of wealth, environmental destruction, and threats against justice. Focus is upon pedagogic discoveries. Aims of education work toward a scientific humanism, social commitment, creativity, and the complete man. The last part examines the role and functions of educational strategy, elements for contemporary strategy, and ways to build solidarity among all countries. (SJM)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Study Abroad 2006-2007

Just a reminder for those of you who are thinking of studying abroad or who have friends who are planning for foreign studies, UNESCO publishes this useful book.

Study Abroad 2006-2007 contains some 2,900 entries concerning post-secondary education and training in all academic and professional fields in countries throughout the world. Key features include information on:

- Study opportunities and financial assistance available to students wishing to study in a foreign country
- National systems of higher education
- Open and distance learning (ODL) opportunities
- Validation of foreign qualifications
- How to search for quality institutions of higher education including warnings about bogus institutions

If you work in an institution of higher education, and want to be sure it is listed in the next update of Study Abroad, this might be a good time to contact UNESCO.

"New plan for Temple Mount bridge aims to silence critics"

A view of the Western Wall with the temporary wooden Mughrabi walkway to the Temple Mount. (Eli Tesma / Bau Bau)

Read the full article in Haaretz (Israel).

"Jerusalem's Planning and Construction Committee will begin discussing an alternative to the controversial Mughrabi Bridge project Wednesday.

"The original plan for the bridge, which leads from the Old City's Dung Gate and the Western Wall to the Temple Mount's Mughrabi Gate, raised hackles in the Arab world when it was presented in February, due to allegations that it would damage the Temple Mount.

"Some archaeologists and architects also expressed concern that the bridge would damage antiquities or block the view of the Temple Mount......

"The United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) is expected to attempt to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians so that an agreement can be reached to allow the bridge's construction.

"A UNESCO committee visited Israel a few months ago to hear the various arguments against the project."

Comment: A special session at the last Executive Board, with strong leadership from U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO Louise Oliver, developed a joint agreement on the problem, and has been described as greatly reducing tensions over the problem of the Temple Mount construction. JAD

UNESCO launches biodiversity project for 4 heritage sites

Read about the initiative in the Hindu News Update (India).

UNESCO has identified four world heritage sites -- Kaziranga and Manas in Assam, Keoladeo in Rajasthan and Nanda Devi in Uttaranchal-- in India as role models to demonstrate conservation management practises for other biodiversity hotspots. The World Heritage Biodiversity Project was launched today by UNESCO for holistic development of these sites. The project is seen as critical to the preservation of globally significant biodiversity.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

UO to launch peace initiative with UNESCO

The University of Oregon is going to be home to a UNESCO chair designed to foster greater understanding of the world's religions and cultures. It will be one of 15 similar chairs worldwide to promote peace by UNESCO - the acronym for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Read the full story on

Steven Shankman, director of the Oregon Humanities Center, will serve as the first chair holder. Shankman, who is a University of Oregon College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, said the program is critically important. It is also speaks to the quality of existing programs, said Dave Frohnmayer, university president.

2007 U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Annual Meeting

On May 21 and May 22, 2007, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO held its annual meeting in Washington, DC. The minutes represent a summary of the meeting, including those who attended, matters discussed, and conclusions reached.

U.S. Participation in the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development

Read "SUSTAINABILITY: Education for a Sustainable Future" by Debra Rowe in Science magazine, 20 July 2007. I quote:
After the United Nations declared a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-14), a grassroots effort from higher education developed in the United States in the absence of a federal government response. The National Council for Science and the Environment hosted its annual conference in 2003 on Education for a Sustainable and Secure Future. Out of that meeting, the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development was created to catalyze a U.S. response for this decade and beyond. This national network of over 300 organizations has sector teams in Faith, Business, Communities, Higher Education, K-12 schooling, and Youth. The U.S. Partnership convenes mainstream leaders and catalyzes their commitment to educating for a sustainable future. With impetus from multiple sources interested in sustainability, three major efforts emerged in the higher-education sector: the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC), the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS), and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). (Links added)
The article describes U.S. efforts in support of education for sustainable development in some detail.

California students working to save energy on campuses.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Tax Break for Donations to Charities

This posting is by a non-expert on tax law, and is intended to stimulate thought. You should verify the information with a tax lawyer or other knowledgeable source before acting on the information. But for some readers, this may be a great time to make charitable contributions to qualifying organizations such as Americans for UNESCO.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) permits an an individual who is 70 ½ or older to roll over up to $100,000 from an individual retirement account (IRA) directly to a qualifying charity without recognizing the assets transferred to the qualifying charity as income. This provision is time-limited; it applies only to distributions made in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2005 and before January 1, 2008. However, since the rollover does not count as income, the donor can not take a deduction against taxes for the contribution (since to do so would be to double count the donation).

This provision of the law will benefit certain tax payers. For those who itemize donations on their tax returns, the rollover will not count against the limit on deductions for donations. Thus a large donation could be made via the rollover without affecting the deduction available for other charitable donations. For those who do not itemize deductions, the rollover would still be tax free.

According to an article in Independent Sector
Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Representatives Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Wally Herger (R-CA) have introduced the “Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2007” in the House (H.R. 1419) and Senate (S. 819).......

The “Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2007” would extend and broaden the current IRA Rollover, scheduled to expire this December, by making it permanent, removing the current $100,000 annual limit on donations, making all charities eligible to receive donations, and providing IRA owners with a planned giving option starting at age 59½.
However, the bill has not been passed and may not become law. If you qualify, this may be the moment to take advantage of the provision of the current law which is scheduled to expire at the end of December.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

We regret to inform you of the death of F. Champion Ward

A distinguished American educator, F. Champion Ward was a member of UNESCO's International Commission on the Development of Education in the 1960's. Dr. Ward was a Vice President of the Ford Foundation executive and helped devise the process by which winners of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius awards" are selected each year. He died July 2 at his home in North Branford, Conn. He was 96.

Read obituaries for Dr. Ward:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Editorial -- The National Mall and Memorials Should be a World Heritage Site

The National Mall, Independence Day!

The National Mall & Memorial Parks, where America and the World come to reflect, honor and celebrate, presents the symbols of our democratic evolution spread over 1,000 acres in the heart of our Nation’s Capitol. It has been designated a National Park, and is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

What better symbol to mark the reentry of the United States to UNESCO than to nominate the National Mall as a World Heritage Site. The Mall perfectly symbolizes the idea of a democratic nation which is the principle contribution of our nation to the world's cultural heritage.

Dialog among civilizations

© Kenji Yoshida, Unesco

The promotion of dialog in the service of peace – in order to build “peace in the minds of men” – is one of the main themes of UNESCO’s mission. Globalization and the emergence of new contemporary challenges and threats to humankind make the need for dialog among peoples ever more topical.

UNESCO Contest: Draw me peace - 4-5 years old

"Now, all the children are friends and free of sadness.
Without any border, hand in hand, they are dancing cheerfully"
Teheran - Ms Torosian Private Painting Class

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Editorial: Nine Wonders of Intangible Heritage

Recently there was a world competition to select the seven new wonders of the world. UNESCO, incidentally, refused to participate, perhaps because of a potential conflict with the World Heritage list of 851 “properties”. UNESCO is of course correct in recognizing that there are far more than seven locations in the world that deserve protection as unique elements of mankind’s natural and cultural heritage. However, there is also value in recognizing that there is a much smaller number of sites of more transcendental importance. Each of the seven wonders is – in my opinion as well as that of the general public – a more important element of man’s heritage than the average of the 851 sites listed by UNESCO.

UNESCO makes occasional proclamations of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, creating thereby a list of such “masterpieces”. I suppose that the masterpiece list is supposed to complement the World Heritage adding intangible items to the tangible locals of the World Heritage Center’s list. The Masterpieces list specifically seeks to recognize “two types of expression of intangible cultural heritage: forms of popular and traditional cultural expressions and cultural spaces. This heritage is made up of many and varied complex forms of living manifestations in constant evolution including oral traditions, performing arts, music, festive events, rituals, social practices and knowledge and practices concerning nature.”

The three proclamations to date have together identified 90 “masterpieces”. They include the Cultural Space of Jemaa el-Fna Square in Morocco, Woodcrafting Knowledge of the Zafimaniry of Madagascar, and the Andean Cosmovision of the Kallawaya of Bolivia.

Let me suggest a set of Nine Wonders of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Each of these is a complex cultural element in constant evolution, which is not limited to any one country or region, and which transforms the lives of billions of people on a daily basis. Each involves social practices.

Scientific Agriculture: Based on a variety of plant and animal species domesticated in centers all around the world, scientific tools are utilized to provide improved varieties and breeds. These are combined with scientifically developed farming practices and the use of scientifically developed inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers in farming environments modified by such means as land leveling and provision of irrigation, and appropriately engineered farming equipment. Individual farms and farmers are supported by complex institutions such as extension services, agricultural research services, plant protection services, soil protection services, etc. The term “scientific agriculture” is used here in contrast to, for example, “traditional agriculture”.

Participatory Democracy: Obviously, participatory democracy has developed slowly, with many steps back, over millennia, including innovations pioneered by Athens in ancient Greece, the British Magna Carta, the American and French Revolutions. Equally obviously, there are many current versions among democratic states, many nations that have only partially institutionalized participatory democracy, and some nations that are governed by dictatorial or theocratic elites. I suggest that those societies that have institutionalized participatory democracy well tend to have governance responsive to their peoples, who enjoy the benefits of rule of law.

The Modern Market Economy: The fall of Communism and the triumph of Capitalism testify to the advantages of modern market economies over centrally planned economies. It must be recognized, however, that there is variety among the national implementations of the modern market economy, and that much of the world is still dependent on other economic systems including informal economies, subsistence economy, or barter systems. The modern market economy differs from earlier laisser faire models in that it is more regulated and includes provisions for a social safety net. Globalization is a feature of the evolution of the market economy with changes in infrastructure. The modern market economy is supported by a myriad of institutions for regulation and support, and depends on acculturation of buyers and sellers to function through markets. With the introduction of improved national and international information infrastructures, organizations have been reengineered to meet changing market needs and demands, and sectors have been comparably restructured, indicating the complexity of institutionalization of the market economy.

Modern Engineering Technology: The application of science to practical arts has produced the knowledge and understanding underlying our modern infrastructure. Modern engineering includes aeronautic, civil, electrical, electronic, environmental, industrial and mechanical engineering. Modern engineering is institutionalized through government and commercial engineering services as well as within corporations, and is supported by a complex web of research, standards, educational, and professional institutions. The term “modern engineering technology” refers to professional practice that has been professionalized (starting in the 19th century), is based on modern scientific knowledge, and is distinguished from the engineering practices of traditional societies or of informally groups.

Modern Urbanization: Today more than half of the people of the world live in cities, but a very large portion of those who do live in urban slums. Still, large cities of developed nations represent a cultural invention that yields the residents unprecedented security and comfort. It is a relatively modern invention, in that there were very few ancient cities that could support a population as large as one million people. It is the modern urban culture of Tokyo, London, Paris or New York that I would consider prototypical of modern urbanization, and that is a model to which cities in developing nations sometimes aspire.

Modern Science: Modern science is based on what is termed “the scientific method”. It is implemented by institutions for the conduct of scientific research, for the replication and validation of experimental results, for the organization of scientific information, for the formulation and validation of scientific theories, and for the dissemination of scientific information. There are also institutions for the support of modern science, including for the training of scientists and their supporting personnel, for the supply of scientific equipment, for science policy, and for financing science. Modern science can be contrasted with other knowledge systems, such as those for traditional or indigenous knowledge or for local knowledge, or political, legal, or other knowledge systems. It includes natural sciences (both physical and biological) as well as social sciences and mathematics.

Modern, Knowledge-Based Medical Practice: I use the term to include both preventive medicine and public health measures as well as curative medicine with its networks of doctors, nurses, dentists, hospitals, health centers, and consultation rooms. It is the practice of modern, scientifically trained practitioners, as contrasted with the practice of traditional practitioners (midwives, herbalists, curers, etc.) or of families using traditional or local knowledge. It depends on the availability of appropriate pharmaceutical products and medical instruments, both of which are supplied by complex institutional systems. While modern, knowledge-based medical practice serves all of mankind, its full benefits are currently limited to a relatively small fraction of the world’s population (those who can afford its cost).

Cyberspace and the International Information Infrastructure: With the development of the telegraph, telephone and radio, a new kind of communication became possible, and the technological extensions (television, mobile phones, satellite communications) have made such communication much more widely spread. Digital information technology, and the creation of the Internet and World Wide Web extended cyberspace, which now contains a huge library of knowledge and expression. Cyberspace provides a new virtual forum for global communication, which perhaps a billion people use actively today. It provides for new forms of institutionalization of other wonders in this list, such as e-commerce and e-government. I include it in this list especially to make the point that mankind’s most important intangible heritage need not be of ancient origin.

World Religions: A few religions include most of the world’s population as their adherents (Christians 33.03% of world population, Muslims 20.12%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.89%). Each of these religions has evolved – during the course of millennia – not only an extensive and complex theology but institutionalized rituals and networks of places of worship. They have all institutionalized systems for training of leaders and members of the faith. For at least 70 percent of mankind, these religions provide patterns of religious belief, codes of moral conduct, communities of faith, and comfort. They would seem clearly to be among the most important elements of mankind’s intangible cultural heritage. They are to be distinguished from religions of the past that no longer have adherents, and many religions that are limited to small numbers of adherents, usually geographically concentrated in a relatively small region.

Concluding Remarks: Culture is often misunderstood. The term (and the concept it represents) is not limited to “high culture” of symphonies and classical literature, nor to “popular culture” of movies and pop music. Nor is it something found only in traditional societies, marked by is fragility and picturesque nature. UNESCO should conceive of its cultural responsibility as relating to “the whole product of an individual, group or society of intelligent beings. It includes technology, art, science, as well as moral systems and the characteristic behaviors and habits of the selected intelligent entities.” (Wikipedia)

UNESCO in its list of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity has focused exclusively on elements of traditional cultures. Indeed, many of these are endangered, likely to be abandoned by the societies in which they once thrived as the people abandon the traditional and adopt more modern institutions. There is merit in recognizing the beauties of oral and intangible heritage of traditional cultures, encouraging their preservation while it is still possible.

It is perhaps more important to recognize the benefits of intangibles of modern culture. UNESCO is a development institution, seeking to help societies achieve conditions that they value, including education for all. Its efforts to promote science and communication are part of its development agenda. Ultimately, societies will not achieve adequate levels of health and nutrition nor freedom and security without development in areas to which UNESCO must contribute.

Thus, it is critical that UNESCO recognize that cultures will have to evolve in ways that are conducive to their social and economic development if they are to meet their members aspirations, and that UNESCO’s job is not merely to encourage protection of endangered quaint customs from the past, but to encourage development and dissemination of cultural practices which are needed for social and economic development to meet current and future needs. Thus it is important that UNESCO recognize the cultural elements that underlie such progress and find ways to help cultures find and adopt useful cultural practices and traits. There are elements in its cultural programs that do this, but they are relatively few and those are relatively weakly supported. UNESCO’s education, science, and communications programs also encourage development-enhancing cultural change, but do so little informed by UNESCO’s cultural expertise.

The United States and other developed nations embody many important cultural elements which can contribute to social and economic progress. The people and government of the United States have historically been more than willing to share the riches of our intangible culture with other nations and peoples. We should encourage UNESCO to recognize our leadership in many of the areas that I have identified above as Wonders of Intangible Culture, and to lead in encouraging other nations and peoples to consider incorporating these elements more fully in their own cultures.

As a final comment, let me reject the notion that such action would be “cultural imperialism”. Imperialism would involve the imposition of cultural elements on other cultures through the use of economic or other kinds of power. Making cultural elements available to other cultures for them to accept or reject – placing the power in their hands – is quite the opposite of imperialism. Indeed, one of the advantages of working through UNESCO in this respect is that an intergovernmental organization is much less likely to slip into an imperialistic mode than bilateral assistance agencies.

John Daly
(The opinions expressed above are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)

UNESCO announces winners of 2007 Literacy Prize

On June 16, 2007 UNESCO announced this year's winners for the Literacy Awards. The award recipients come from China, Senegal, Nigeria, Tanzania and the United States. This UNESCO initiative is concieved to recognize the efforts made in the fight against illetracy. This year's theme was 'Literacy and Health', including literacy work, such as nutrition, family and reproductive health and health-related community development.

The US winner is the 'Reach Out and Read' organization, working on urban health centers, neighborhood clinics, hospitals and public health departments.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

2005 Study Tour to UN Agencies

Read "UNA-NCA Sponsors Delegation to Visit UN Agencies in Paris and Geneva" by Andrew Rice in the UNA-USA Newsletter of June 2005.

"Fourteen UNA-USA members journeyed to Paris and Geneva in May as the first organized UNA-USA delegation to meet and dialogue with officials in the UN agencies in those cities. In addition to holding sessions with key members of the secretariats, the group also met with the US missions to the agencies. Organized by the National Capital Area chapter, the week-long program brought together seven UNA-NCA members and seven UNAers from chapters in California, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas and Utah. The group, led by Cynthia Butler and Andrew Rice, spent two full days in Paris and three in Geneva......

"The days in Paris centered on UNESCO (which the US only recently re-joined) and the US Mission to UNESCO. Particular topics included UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites program and the proposed -- and controversial -- convention on cultural diversity. The discussion with the US Mission emphasized the importance it attached to the practical implementation of programs."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Girls and science: a training module on motivating girls to embark on science and technology careers

Girls and science: a training module on motivating girls to embark on science and technology careers
UNESCO, 2006. (PDF, 936702 bytes)

The overall aim of this educational module is to help reduce gender disparities in the field of science and technology in Africa as well as to provide women with the possibility of embarking upon science careers in the quest of self-dependence and poverty reduction. Published by UNESCO, 2006, specific objectives of Girls and science: a training module on motivating girls to embark on science and technology careers include:
1. Promoting a positive image of women in scientific and technological careers;

2. Sensitizing parents, teachers, educators, school administrative staff, curriculum developers and trainers to counter gender stereotypes with regard to science careers;

3. Improving access of girls to scientific and technological education by providing clear ideas of career opportunities;

4. Providing teachers with the necessary career guidance tools to meet the needs of female learners seeking careers in science and technology.

'World Heritage: Challenges for the Millennium'

World Heritage: Challenges for the Millennium
Published by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre
January 2007
Available in English and French

Richly illustrated with photos, maps and statistical graphs, this publication brings to life diverse sites of the World Heritage Convention, from the mythic halls of the Taj Mahal to Egypt’s Wadi Al-Hitan, a desert valley peppered by the skeletons of extinct whales from a bygone climate.

The publication explores the challenges and successes in implementing the Convention over the past 30 years. A historical perspective serves as the backdrop to analyse the current state of conservation of cultural and natural World Heritage sites before exploring looming areas of concern, such as the impact of climate change and armed conflict as well as the opportunities and pitfalls of the tourism industry.

A user-friendly approach has been adopted to clarify the main issues covered, and complementary information is offered in a variety of illustrative boxes, figures, maps, tables, focus sections and commentaries. Numerous internet links and references simplify research for complementary information. The collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics based in Montreal, Canada has allowed, for the first time, statistical presentations of many aspects of the Convention and has resulted in high quality statistics and analyses.

This work is the result of a collective effort of many partners and professionals and has been made possible by the generous grant of the Italian Government.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Education for Sustainable Development

UNESCO is the lead agency for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). The goal of the decade is to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning.

This educational effort
is to encourage changes in behavior that will create a more sustainable future in terms of environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations.

Since environmental education (EE) was defined internationally at the first UNESCO-UNEP sponsored conference on EE held in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 1977, international leaders and practitioners have gathered every decade--in Moscow in 1987 and in Thessaloniki in 1997, to take stock of the progress and to set new goals for advancing the field.

The Fourth International Conference on Environmental Education, co-sponsored by UNESCO and UNEP, is being organized by the Government of India at the Center for Environment Education (CEE), the nodal agency for the Conference. The main Conference is being held in Ahmedabad on 26, 27 and 28 November 2007, with pre Conference workshops beginning 24 November 2007.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Editorial: To Build the Defenses of the Environment in the Minds of Men

Today eight Live Earth concerts are to be held around the globe to raise awareness and stimulate action to combat the climate crisis. Hundreds of thousands will attend the concerts, many millions more will attend via the media, thousands of newspaper articles will cover the events. Let us hope that the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of this century will be marked as the lucky day when public opinion demanded action!

Today, as is shown in the following map of intensity of environmental exploitation, mankind has converted almost all of the surface of the for human use. The world's population is expected to increase by some 40 percent by 2050, and per capita product to an average of about $20,000. Both the increase in population and the increase in economic productivity of the population will almost surely increase pressures on the global environment Unless we change our habits, the environmental impact will be devastating by the end of the century.

Global warming is clearly occurring. It has been estimated that the average temperature over the earth will increase by several degrees during this century. Of course many places will see a greater than average increase in average temperature, rainfall patterns will continue to change, sea level will continue to rise, adverse weather events in many places will be more frequent and/or more severe.

More and more marginal land will be converted to production, and as a result, more land is likely to be degraded. Desertification and deforestation will continue to expand. As a result of loss of habitat, perhaps as many as 90 percent of plant and animal species may be lost.

It is not only that every year we delay in moving toward sustainable development will be one more year until that felicitous state is achieved. Not only is the problem getting worse every year, the worsening rate increases and will continue to do so until we take serious action. Every year of delay will result in a later and worse bottoming out of environmental problems and a longer period of recuperation.

Many civilizations in the past have fallen as a result of asking too much of the environments in which they lived. For the first time in human history, mankind has the potential today to ask too much of the environment of the entire globe, to mark the entire earth with an ugly footprint. Unless the nations of the world act together to reduce the demands they are making on the environment, they condemn future generations to living in a degraded, polluted and denuded world.

UNESCO has an ambitious goal: to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men. I suggest that we add a second, equally ambitious goal to the organization: to build the defenses of the environment in the minds of men!

We instinctively feel that it is wrong to destroy and lay waste to the environment. I suggest that we need also a profound philosophical discussion of why sustainable development is the only ethical course for mankind. UNESCO is the only international organization that specifically includes philosophy and ethics in its charter, and thus its "Human Sciences" programs are needed to address the environmental crisis.

Many cultures worldwide have evolved to live in harmony with their environments, protecting them, sustaining a fruitful interaction for millennia. The globally dominant culture of the 20th century, however, too often identified the industrial smoke stake as its logo; was a culture that depleted resources, polluted land, water and air, and turned huge areas of the globe into wasteland. UNESCO is the only international organization that specifically focuses on Culture, and is therefore the only organization likely to help other cultures learn from those which still internalize sustainability. It is the only organization likely to lead toward a globally dominant cultural value of stewardship for the environment.

UNESCO's natural science programs are already centrally important in leading the global effort of the scientific community to understand the global environment, how it is deteriorating, and how it may be protected. It is the global natural science enterprise that brought to mankind's attention the global environmental problems that we face, and it is the natural sciences that will deepen our understanding of the problem and suggest better ways of managing and protecting that environment. Here too, UNESCO has a key role as catalyst and cheerleader.

UNESCO is the lead agency in the international system for the social sciences. The degradation of the global environment must be understood as an unintended consequence of the ways in which society is organized and functions. Mankind desperately needs insights from the social sciences as to how better to organize society to achieve a more sustainable development. UNESCO, by reorganizing and strengthening its social science programs might well provide leadership for a global social science effort towards understanding the social roots of the environmental crisis comparable to that of its natural science program's leadership in understanding the physical nature of environmental problems.

The most urgent aspect of the world's environmental crisis is that its urgency, magnitude and importance are not fully appreciated. The general public does not understand the environmental problem, nor does it fully internalize the importance of thinking in terms of 100 years; if it did so, there would be a global outcry for action. The political, commercial and economic leadership of the nations of the world need a far more detailed and complete understanding of the environmental crisis than does the general public, and it too is lacking.

UNESCO is the leading international organization for education and for communications and information. No intergovernmental agency is better placed to lead the process of educating and informing the public about the environmental crisis. Indeed, UNESCO is the United Nations agency most attuned to civil society and thus in an exceptional position to encourage non-governmental organizations to join in educating the world about the environmental crisis we face.

In short, every UNESCO program has a role to play in building the defenses of the environment and support for sustainable development in the minds of men. The environmental crisis is sufficiently important and urgent that this should become a priority for UNESCO.

If UNESCO's purpose is building the defense of peace in the minds of men, I suggest that it will not achieve that purpose unless it now builds the defenses of the environment in those same minds. The growing environmental crisis will not be good for peace. The worse it gets, the more conflict it will sew.

Please add your comments below.

If you agree strongly with this position, tell:
John Daly

Thursday, July 05, 2007

UNESCO High Level Group of Visionaries on Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing

UNESCO invited a group of world known visionaries and decision makers from government, civil society, academia and the private sector to a high level dialogue on the future of knowledge acquisition and sharing on 23 June 2007 in Kronberg/Taunus, Germany.

The members of this Group were to anticipate and define future needs and processes of knowledge acquisition and sharing and examine the relationship between these processes and knowledge creation, knowledge preservation, knowledge utilization, technology use and new knowledge models. They were to address issues such as:
* The role of knowledge acquisition and sharing to build a world in which peace, development and human rights prosper;
* The contribution of ICTs to this process;
* The evolution of knowledge acquisition and sharing over the next three decades;
* Political and institutional changes that are needed to address these challenges.
For more information:
* Read the Working Document for the Meeting (PDF, 5 pages)

* Read the Program and List of Participants (PDF, 15 pages)

* Check out the website developed by Core UK to support the meeting with a discussion by participants

* Read the Kronberg Declaration on the Future of Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing and make comments if you desire.

UNESCO concerned about boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has expressed concern over the motion passed on 30 May 2007 by the British University and College Union (UCU) to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This boycott request is currently being circulated to all UCU local branches for discussion.

He stated:
In situations of conflict, opportunities, no matter how small, should be seized whenever possible, to enhance the prospects for peace and dialog.

Academics are responsible for gathering, processing and distributing information, which are tasks necessary for building stable, prosperous and democratic societies. We need to preserve the universality of research, exchange and learning, and support all joint academic activities that foster the sharing of experiences and expertise.

If we are serious about the need to promote sustained peace, democracy and development, I believe that we have the moral responsibility to share knowledge and promote understanding.

International university cooperation is not a luxury but a necessity. We must therefore continue to support all efforts within civil societies to nurture contacts in the spirit of respect and mutual understanding which characterize peaceful relations.
Editorial Comment: Israeli academic organizations are of course not homogeneous, but I have worked with hundreds of Israeli academics who effectively utilize their international networks to promote peace, and who have take personal and professional risks to cooperate with Arab colleagues. John Daly

Everglades Declared No Longer in Danger

Everglades National Park

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization | UNESCO.ORG:

"The World Heritage Committee has decided that improvements in the preservation of the Everglades National Park (Florida, USA) were sufficient to remove the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger.*

The Committee commended the United States of America for its investment of scientific and financial resources to rehabilitate the site which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and on the Danger List in 1993. Described as a river of grass flowing imperceptibly from the hinterland into the sea, the Everglades’ exceptional variety of water habitats has made it a sanctuary for a large number of birds and reptiles, including threatened species such as the manatee. It had been threatened by urban growth and pollution, as well as by the damage caused to Florida Bay in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew. "

New inscriptions for Memory of the World Register

Thirty-eight items of documentary heritage of exceptional value have just been added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, bringing the total number of inscriptions since 1997 to 158.

From the United States of America - The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming 1939), produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: a film celebrating kindness, charity, friendship, courage, fortitude, love and generosity, released in 1939, as the Second World War was spreading across the world. It remains one of the most popular and memorable films in the history of cinema.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Program some years ago to encourage the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination.

Editorial Comment: This is an indication of how poorly the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO is doing its job. The Wizard of Oz is a nice picture, but it is far from the best the United States has to offer. The American Film Institute recently listed its considered list of the ten best American films of all time, which are:
Citizen Kane has consistently ranked as the best American film for many years. The Godfather
also is widely considered a much better and more important film than The Wizard of Oz.

The United States should put its best foot forward when UNESCO is identifying the most important elements of world heritage. The National Commission for UNESCO should be sure that we do so. It failed on this occassion. John Daly

Public-private partnerships for education: what makes them work?

Partnerships for Education (PfE), led by UNESCO and the World Economic Forum, brought together supporters of public-private partnerships for education at a workshop on 25 and 26 June in Geneva, Switzerland.

"It is truly an honour to be part of such a groundbreaking educational model
where private, public and non-profit organizations c
ome together
to drive the marriage of education and technology for the greater good."

John Chambers, President and CEO, Cisco Systems

The workshop focussed on the success and sustainability of education partnerships.

Participants from UN agencies, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions, governments, and teachers from all regions of the world described examples of multi-stakeholder partnerships in education (MSPEs), identified common factors for success and review capacity for delivering such partnerships worldwide. They will also study how best to co-ordinate existing MSPE initiatives.

Partnerships for Education (PfE) is an unprecedented collaboration between governments, the private sector, international organizations and donors to help deliver effective private sector contributions to meet the goal of providing Education for All (EFA) by 2015. The partnership was signed between UNESCO and the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2007.

New Issue of the UNESCO Courier

Issue Number 6 for 2007 of UNESCO's online magazine, the UNESCO Courier has just been published.

Six thousand years separate the Sydney Opera House from Twyfelfontein. These two sites just inscribed on the World Heritage List add to its extraordinary richness, which the UNESCO Courier aims to illustrate. Among the twenty-two new sites, the Courier focuses on five that reflect the diversity of world heritage down through the ages.

© UNESCO/Stefan Hoeh

The Sydney Opera House in Australia

Twyfelfontein has 5,000 petroglyphs, revealing Namibian ancestors’ vision of the cosmos. The South African archaeologist Thomas A. Dowson provides us with the code needed to decipher this 6000-year-old alphabet.

Then Greek artist Katerina Zacharopoulou walks us through the tiny streets of a city dating back to antiquity and the Renaissance, the Venice of Greece, or, as the author puts it, “a cosmopolitan aristocrat who suffers from plastic chairs”, which are proliferating in the tourist-crammed cafés: Corfou.

Then we enter “Paradise on earth”, New Delhi’s Red Fort, built in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan, to whom we owe that other jewel of Mughal architecture, the legendary Taj Mahal in Agra. Indian linguist Appasamy Murugaiyan opens the doors to this paradise, which became hell for its builder.
Closer to our own times, the diaolous built in the 19th century in Chinese-Western style by the Chinese in Kaiping attracted the attention of Patricia Batto, French expert on China. She has chosen a few of these 1,800 fortified tower residences to explain the role of these unique constructions in times when law and order did not prevail.

Finally, Mexican journalist Gerardo Tena shows us around a masterpiece of 20th century architecture, the Ciudad Universitaria in Mexico. This university campus represents a harmonious melding of modernism and local tradition, imbued with the spirit of personalities like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Octavio Paz.

These guided tours are preceded by an interview with Tumu Te Heuheu, Paramount Chief of the Central North Island Tuwharetoa Tribe (New Zealand) and Chairperson of the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee, which just ended in Christchurch, in his country. He underlines the crucial role of communities in the preservation of world heritage.

UNESCO's Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity

UNESCO's Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity explores new ways to turn creativity in developing countries into sustainable cultural industries. It aims to promote cultural diversity, support economic development and encourage job creation in a range of fields including music, publishing, cinema, crafts and the performing arts.

Launched as a pilot project in 2002, the Global Alliance will now use its experience in developing public-private partnerships to support programmes and activities implemented under the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

aid_resize.gifArtists in Development

stats logo.gifUnderstanding Creative Industries

tshirts_th.gifSharing Best Practice in the Creative Industries

World Heritage Partners

Anasazi cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde
Source: UNESCO World Heritage Center

UNESCO and its World Heritage Center are working for the conservation and promotion of the sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. These diverse places represent the outstanding universal value of humanity's heritage, a compelling testimony to the biodiversity of our planet and to centuries of major cultural accomplishments.

This heritage is everyone's legacy. All are invited to help in its conservation. State members, international and national organizations as well the civil society commit daily to this

World Heritage's partners are a keystone for the preservation of numerous sites. These partnerships are as varied as the sites themselves in their endeavors: mobilizing resources, sharing know-how, reinforcing administrative and technical experience and expertise.

Among the partners of UNESCO's World Heritage Center from the United States are:
* Hewlett-Packard A first partnership agreement was reached in 2003 with the company to strengthen and implement the World Heritage Centre's Information Management System through the "World Heritage Image and Documentation Management" project. At the end of 2005 a new partnership was concluded between the World Heritage Centre, Hewlett-Packard and National Geographic Society to design, produce and distribute a new version of the World Heritage Map using a new digital printing technology.

* The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation A partnership was set up between the Foundation and the World Heritage Centre to support the marine programme in the Carribbean.

* The
National Geographic Society In 2005, a partnership was concluded between the World Heritage Centre, Hewlett-Packard and National Geographic Society to design, produce and distribute a new version of the World Heritage Map to increase its diffusion to the public. In November 2006, a new agreement was signed between the World Heritage Centre and National Geographic Society to set up a free downloadable program, "National Geographic World Explorer", including high-resolution images, cartography and interactive thematic information. Location of World Heritage sites as well as information about them will be included in this program.

* Philanthropy Squared In 2006, the World Heritage Centre signed an agreement with Philanthropy Squared to set up promotional and fundraising activities in the United States for World Heritage.

The Nature Conservancy In 2004, the World Heritage Centre concluded an agreement with this organization to develop various projects for sites, especially for capacity-building and improvement of management, with emphasis on local communities. This partnership is based on a shared vision to protect and manage natural and mixed cultural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, in the fields of biodiversity and sustainable development on terrestrial, marine and coastal sites.

* The United Nations Foundation (UNF) Since 1998, UNF has had a cooperation agreement with the United Nations to achieve the objectives of the Charter of United Nations through innovative, forward-looking and proactive projects that make contributions to the well-being of the world. To improve this collaboration, the United Nations created a United Nations Fund of International Partnerships (UNFIP) destined to receive grants from UNF for projects. UNF and UNFIP have carried out, in partnership with the World Heritage Centre, projects on the world's biological diversity and the promotion of the importance of natural heritage for the future of humankind. In 2003, a partnership agreement was created between UNF and the World Heritage Centre to raise awareness about World Heritage, particularly in the United States, and to mobilize support for both cultural and natural World Heritage sites, notably through the creation of web pages.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Educational Information from UIS

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is a critically important international organization. It provides global leadership in the standardization, collection and distribution of statistics on education, science and culture. Without the efforts of UIS it is difficult to see how comparisons among nations could be made in these important sectors. How would we monitor progress towards key goals such as those of Education for All or the Millennium Development Goals without the work UIS has done over the past decades to standardize indicators and its continuing efforts to collect information from member states and disseminate that information globally.

In June, UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) released the latest available literacy statistics, along with internationally comparable education indicators for the 2005 school year. This data release coincides with the launch of the new UIS Data Center.

EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report for 2007 features Early Childhood Education.

Find out...
Why is early childhood care and education so important to achieving EFA?

Why do disadvantaged children benefit the most?

Who are the 77 million out-of-school children?

How much is needed to meet the 2015 target date?

"Time is running out to meet the EFA goals set in 2000. Despite continued overall global progress at the primary level, including for girls, too many children are not in school, drop out early or do not reach minimal learning standards. By neglecting the connections among early childhood, primary and secondary education, and adult literacy, countries are missing opportunities to improve basic education across the board – and, in the process, the prospects of children, youth and adults everywhere."

In addition to reporting on global progress towards education for all, the Report adopts a holistic approach towards early childhood care and education (ECCE). ECCE supports children’s survival, growth, development and learning – including health, nutrition and hygiene,
and cognitive, social, physical and emotional development – from birth to entry into primary school in formal, informal and non-formal settings.