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World Science Conference Begins



A delegation of nine New Zealand scientists, science managers and policy makers is attending the UNESCO/ICSU (International Council for Science) World Science Conference which gets underway in Budapest, Hungary today( Sat. 26th).

Over 2000 people from around the world are attending what is the first global conference on science in 20 years.

The Secretary for the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, Elizabeth Rose, says the conference, entitled 'Science for the 21st Century - a new commitment', will examine future directions for scientific research and the many interfaces between science and society. It also aims to look at issues around increasing the commitment of governments and policy makers to the basic and long- term scientific research which is vital for the development of society in the next century.

"The threshold of a new millennium is an appropriate moment to reflect on the role and direction of science in our increasingly complex and rapidly-changing world. With the development and spread of knowledge-based economies, the computer and telecommunications revolution and accelerating globalisation, the application of scientific knowledge has become the most important engine for socio- economic growth and development both in New Zealand and globally," Ms Rose said.

"At the same time the world is confronting many global problems such as environmental degradation, pollution and climate change. Scientific knowledge can play a key role in resolving these issues. The UNESCO/ICSU conference is seeking the commitment of both scientists and politicians to address, support and fund scientific endeavours which meet these kinds of social and economic needs."

Ms Rose said UNESCO, which is the only United Nations agency with a mandate for promoting science, hopes the World Conference on Science will make significant headway in establishing an international consensus on the role and direction of science in the 21st Century. It is hoped the Conference will adopt two documents: a Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge and a Science Agenda-Framework for Action, which will provide an innovative and pragmatic framework for fostering partnerships in science to address the use of science for development.

"UNESCO believes a firm commitment to scientific research and education by all nations is a necessary prerequisite for achieving real human and social development in the new century," Ms Rose said. A particular objective of the New Zealand delegation will be to call on UNESCO to encourage wider participation of women and indigenous people in science.

At a local level, Ms Rose said, the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO hoped to follow up the conference by facilitating a forum examining New Zealand's international science linkages. The meeting will be one of a number of opportunities that will be sought to feedback the outcomes of the conference which are relevant to New Zealand and to the science community.

The New Zealand delegation to the six day conference includes Sir Neil Waters, a member of the UNESCO International Scientific Advisory Board; Professor Sylvia Rumball, ONZM, Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor Equity and Education, Director of the Science Policy and Education Unit at Massey University and a member of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO; James Ataria, a PhD student in the Animal and Food Sciences Division at Lincoln University; Professor Ralph Cooney, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science at Auckland University; Professor Jeffrey Hunter, Head of the Institute of Information and Mathematical Science at Massey University's Albany Campus; Aroha Te Pareake Mead, Manager of Cultural Heritage and Indigenous Issues, Te Puni Kokiri/Ministry of Maori Development and member of the Social Science Sub-Commission of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO; Terry Neal of the Ministry of Research Science and Technology; Associate Professor Vince Neall of the Institute of Natural Resources Massey University, member of the Science Sub-Commission of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and Dr Roger Young of the Cawthron Institute.


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