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Kariba Dam - Reshaping of the Plunge Pool

Europaid - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 11:03
Categories: News

MAB Programme was guest of honour at a forum of companies committed to the sustainability of the planet

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 18:43

The IV Encuentro Planeta Responsable (4th Responsible Planet Encounter) – a dedicated forum for companies and experts committed to improving the planet through innovation, sustainability and corporate social responsibility – took place in Barcelona, Spain on 27 February 2017. UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme was the guest of honour at a series of forum events organized by Prisma Publications (Grupo Planeta), where more than 20 experts and senior managers discussed ways to promote good governance practices, measure the social and environmental impact of companies, and lend visibility to initiatives that promote responsible approaches to using our planet’s resources.

The president of Grupo Planeta, José Creuheras, opened the forum by calling on companies to become tools for social awareness, stating that ‘companies have to think about what to do to change things and make them better’. He further hoped that initiatives such as Planeta Responsable ‘will serve to raise awareness and improve society ‘.

The participants included a number of major multinationals (Acciona, Coca-Cola, Havas Media, Nestlé and Toyota), a consulting firm (KPMG), specialized media firms (Atresmedia and Ethic), ethically committed companies (Signus, Ecoalf and Bodegas Muga), and entities (the Abertis Foundation).

In his closing speech, the representative of the MAB Programme, Mr Miguel Clüsener-Godt, noted that the sustainability of the planet is fundamentally based on the relationship and awareness of the companies and the consumer. Mr Clüsener-Godt concluded his presentation by adding that, ‘projects such as the UNESCO Category II Centre for the Mediterranean Biosphere Reserves of the Abertis Foundation provide a strong example, and are only made possible through cooperation among all partners’.

 

Categories: News

Education, museum and media officers promote gender equality in Viet Nam

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 17:09

Viet Nam has made significant progress in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, but violence, persistent male preference, and limited access to education in remote and ethnic minority areas still remain common challenges for girls and women.

A two-day training in Thach That district of Ha Noi gave representatives from the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, the National Institute of Education Management, and the national radio broadcaster Voice of Vietnam the opportunity to build their knowledge and skills to advance gender equality.

The training on 23-24 February 2017 built understanding of gender concepts by examining gender stereotypes, biases and discrimination in mass media and textbooks. Participants realized the serious implications of gender inequality on girls’ and women’s access to education and personal well-being through real-life illustrations of gender disparities within schools and the wider community.

Ms Tran Thi Phuong Nhung, UNESCO Gender Programme Manager, highlighted the officers’ key role in promoting gender equality, and encouraged them to “critically monitor and evaluate gender-related practices and norms as they are paramount to Viet Nam’s development, especially within the Education Sector.”

Awareness-raising campaigns

Participants discussed actions that they could take to advance gender equality in their respective spheres and developed draft action plans to ensure consideration of gender in legal documents, policies and in all stages of activity planning and implementation. Gender awareness-raising campaigns for the public were identified as key strategies across all sectors.  

After the training, these action plans will be discussed and further developed within the participants’ respective MOET, Museum and Media agency departments. Participants will also be engaged to support the implementation of the MOET and UNESCO’s Joint Initiative on Gender Equality and Girls’ Education.

The training took place as part of the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, which was established in 2012 under the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education.

For more information, please contact Ms. Tran Thi Phuong Nhung, Gender Programme Manager, at tt.nhung(at)unesco.org

Categories: News

Director-General in Washington to participate in the Global Partnerships Week

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 15:47

On 6 March 2017, Director-General Irina Bokova will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the opening session of the “Partnerships Practitioners Forum” organized by the U.S. State Department, USAID and Concordia. The event will take place in the framework of the Global Partnerships Week, under the theme “17 in 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

The Practitioners Forum, initiated by the Office of Global Partnerships at the US Department of State, the US Global Development Lab at the US Agency for International Development, Concordia, and PeaceTech Lab, will kick-off the annual week-long celebration in recognition of the critical role that cooperation plays in advancing the SDGs globally.

Following her participation in the Forum, Ms Bokova is expected to meet with Ms Nancy Lindborg, President of the United States Institute of Peace, which is hosting this year’s event.

While in Washington, the Director-General will also meet with Ms Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. She will then travel to Ottawa to participate in the UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development.

Categories: News

Release of Russian edition of the UNESCO Science Report

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 11:47
focus_women_and_girls_in_science_shutterstock_559579207_t3.jpg © Shutterstock 02 March 2017

The Russian edition of the UNESCO Science Report may now be consulted and downloaded from UNESCO’s open access portal. It has been published by Magister Press, with the financial support of the St Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO).

The original English edition was released in November 2015.

The report’s first message is that, despite the economic crisis that hit industrialized countries in 2008, gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) increased globally by 31% between 2007 and 2013, rising from USD 1.132 billion in 2007 to USD 1.478 billion in 2013. Research spending grew more rapidly than the global economy over the same period (20%).

The USA still leads, with 28% of global investment in research and development (R&D), followed by China (20%) – now ahead of the European Union (19%) – and Japan (10%). The Russian Federation’s share dropped from 2.0% to 1.7% between 2009 and 2013.

Many low and middle-income countries have used the commodity boom to increase their own commitment to research, including Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Malaysia and Turkey. In Central Asia, however, research spending remains low, at 0.2–0.4% of GDP. It is slightly higher in Belarus, which is not well-endowed in natural resources (0.7% of GDP), and Ukraine, which has suffered repeated economic crises (0.8% of GDP).

In the Russian Federation, ‘paradoxically, the rapid economic growth fuelled by the commodities boom between 2000 and 2008 actually weakened the motivation of enterprises to modernize and innovate… This manifested itself in a boom in imports of advanced technologies and a growing technological dependence on developed countries in certain areas, such as pharmaceuticals and high-tech medical equipment’, observes the report. In May 2014, the Russian president called for a widening of import-substitution programmes to counter this trend.

Although federal budgetary allocations for civil-purpose R&D rose from 63 to 81 billion rubles (in constant 2000 prices) between 2009 and 2013, research intensity actually contracted over the same period, from 1.25% to 1.12% of GDP.

Industry performs the bulk of research (60%) in the Russian Federation but finances just 28% (2013). ‘The low share of industry-financed R&D is a perennial concern’, observes the report. Moreover, this is down from 33% in 2000. Innovation is largely confined to the domestic market. One concern raised by the report is that only one in four innovative enterprises are producing inventions in the environmental field. Most show little interest in ‘green’ technologies.

One of the targets fixed by presidential decree in 2012 is to carry the Russian research effort to 1.77% of GDP by 2015. The government also hopes to increase high-tech industries’ contribution to economic growth.

Worldwide, the number of researchers has risen by more than 20% since 2007. However, the number of Russian researchers has receded slightly, causing its world share to drop from 7.3% to 5.7%.

One in five researchers live in the European Union (22%), followed by China (19%), which now counts more researchers than the USA (17%).

 

Categories: News

After the recapture of Palmyra, Director-General calls for renewed efforts to protect Syrian heritage

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 21:52
DSC_0836_dg_portrait.8x6_56_28.jpg © UNESCO

While several sources confirm the recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra from violent extremists, the Director-General of UNESCO calls for securing the archaeological site over the long term and redoubling efforts to protect Syrian heritage as a whole.

"The protection of the archaeological site of Palmyra is both a major cultural issue and an imperative for security, peace and the recovery of a whole country," said the Director-General. "This heritage has survived millennia, it represents a leaven of unity and identity for the Syrian people. Its preservation is inseparable from the protection of human life and is an integral part of the response to humanitarian emergencies. It must be left out of the conflict."

"UNESCO is currently holding an emergency international meeting in Beirut to coordinate the protection of cultural heritage in the devastated ancient city of Aleppo and remains fully engaged with Syrian antiquities officials and all its partners for the preservation of Syrian heritage as a whole. The situation requires extreme vigilance and constant international cooperation at the highest level for the coming decades. Palmyra has already suffered too much from the infernal cycle of looting, systematic destruction and fighting. These degradations must stop, and UNESCO will do its utmost to document these damages so that these crimes do not go unpunished. I remind all the forces involved of the absolute necessity to safeguard this emblematic heritage as a key condition for peace in the region," she added.

An Oasis in the Syrian desert northeast of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. At the crossroads of several civilizations, the art and architecture of Palmyra mixes Greco-Roman and Persian influences with local traditions and represents a symbol of openness and tolerance. The site of Palmyra has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1980 and on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2013.

Categories: News

Restoring African Cinema

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 17:17
infocus_restoring_african_cinema_2.jpg NOLLYWOOD : La réussite made in Nigeria© Hugo Pieter 02 March 2017
Categories: News

15th OCT-EU Forum

Europaid - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 17:09
Categories: News

Newly published GESAMP report on Microplastics

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 16:43

Two weeks ago, the GESAMP advisory body on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection published the second part of its global assessment on microplastics. It confirmed that microplastic contamination has been recorded in tens of thousands of organisms and more than 100 species. GESAMP consists of experts nominated by nine United Nations Sponsoring Agencies, including UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

The comprehensive report on 'Sources, Fate and Effects of Microplastics in the Marine Environment: Part 2 of a Global Assessment' expands on an earlier study published in 2015. It investigates in greater length the sources and the potential ecological impacts of microplastics, and includes recommendations for further work on the issue.

The report provides an update as well as further assessment of the sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment, carried out by GESAMP’s Working Group 40 (WG40). The distribution of microplastics in the five main ocean compartments (sea surface, water column, shoreline, seabed and biota) are described, together with the transport mechanisms that regulate the flux of microplastic between compartments. Among the key outputs of this second report in the global assessment series is a report of regional ‘hot-spots’ of microplastic sources, distribution and accumulation zones.

The issue of marine plastic litter was raised during the inaugural meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in June 2014, which adopted Resolution 1/6 on ‘Marine plastic debris and microplastics’ (Annex I). The resolution welcomed the work being undertaken by GESAMP on microplastics and requested the Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) to carry out a study on marine plastics and microplastics based on a combination of existing and new studies, including those coming out of GESAMP’s WG40.

Following up on the UNEP’s resolution, GESAMP revised its original terms of reference to ensure a more effective contribution to the ongoing microplastic research initiatives.

Key links:

Full Report

The Guardian article mentioning the GESAMP report 

For more information, please contact:

Henrik Enevoldsen (h.enevoldsen(at)unesco.org)

Categories: News

UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development highlights teachers’ role in achieving Global Development Agenda

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 15:18
02 March 2017

More than 400 experts, practitioners and policymakers from the public, non-governmental and private sector from all regions will attend UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development: The Role of Education, in Ottawa, Canada from 6 to 10 March.

Organized by UNESCO and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the event will focus on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and their contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on Education. During the Week, experts will examine pedagogical approaches and teaching practices in promoting ESD and GCED.

“Learning to live together and protecting our planet are basic conditions for securing a more peaceful and sustainable future,” says UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. “This is about daily actions, attitudes and behaviours that are guided by awareness of our interdependence, respect for shared values and openness to other cultures. These must be integrated into education systems everywhere, so that every student grows up to become a caring and responsible global citizen.”

UNESCO will launch a new publication on this occasion, “Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives,” to support policy-makers, curriculum developers and educators to promote learning for the SDGs. The publication contains suggestions and classroom activities to address each goal.

Teachers of UNESCO’s Associated Schools (ASPnet) will also be attending the event, along with 50 young delegates.

From 6 to 8 March, the Global Review Forum for the Global Action Programme (GAP) will take stock of progress since 2014, when the programme was launched, and examine the way forward.

From 8 to 10 March, the Third GCED Forum will highlight good policies and practices for teachers and teacher trainers.

Ms Bokova, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education (Ontario Provincial Parliament), Ambassador Dessima Williams, Special Adviser to the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Fred van Leeuwen, Secretary-General of Education International, will take the floor on 8 March, when the two fora come together.

This session will be followed by an intergenerational dialogue between youth and senior officials, organized by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP). This “Talking Across Generations” (TAGe) session will be broadcast on webstream with live discussions on Twitter under the hashtag #UNESCOweekED.

In support of the Week, the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report will also launch a youth photo contest on ESD and GCED on 6 March. More here.

Finally, UNESCO’s MGIEP will launch an SDG-inspired video game in which players help solve global problems such as displacement, disease, deforestation, drought and pollution at the community level.*

The UNESCO Week is organized with financial support from UNESCO, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan through the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust for ESD. Additional support for the Week is provided by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, the Global Centre for Pluralism and the Canadian Museum of History.

****

Media accreditation: Angèle Cyr angele.cyr@unesco.ca + 1 613-219-1119

See video trailer*

Follow us on Twitter #UNESCOWeek

Categories: News

UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development highlights teachers’ role in achieving Global Development Agenda

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 15:17
02 March 2017

More than 400 experts, practitioners and policymakers from the public, non-governmental and private sector from all regions will attend UNESCO Week on Peace and Sustainable Development: The Role of Education, in Ottawa, Canada from 6 to 10 March.

Organized by UNESCO and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the event will focus on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and their contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on Education. During the Week, experts will examine pedagogical approaches and teaching practices in promoting ESD and GCED.

“Learning to live together and protecting our planet are basic conditions for securing a more peaceful and sustainable future,” says UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. “This is about daily actions, attitudes and behaviours that are guided by awareness of our interdependence, respect for shared values and openness to other cultures. These must be integrated into education systems everywhere, so that every student grows up to become a caring and responsible global citizen.”

UNESCO will launch a new publication on this occasion, “Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives,” to support policy-makers, curriculum developers and educators to promote learning for the SDGs. The publication contains suggestions and classroom activities to address each goal.

Teachers of UNESCO’s Associated Schools (ASPnet) will also be attending the event, along with 50 young delegates.

From 6 to 8 March, the Global Review Forum for the Global Action Programme (GAP) will take stock of progress since 2014, when the programme was launched, and examine the way forward.

From 8 to 10 March, the Third GCED Forum will highlight good policies and practices for teachers and teacher trainers.

Ms Bokova, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education (Ontario Provincial Parliament), Ambassador Dessima Williams, Special Adviser to the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Fred van Leeuwen, Secretary-General of Education International, will take the floor on 8 March, when the two fora come together.

This session will be followed by an intergenerational dialogue between youth and senior officials, organized by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP). This “Talking Across Generations” (TAGe) session will be broadcast on webstream with live discussions on Twitter under the hashtag #UNESCOweekED.

In support of the Week, the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report will also launch a youth photo contest on ESD and GCED on 6 March. More here.

Finally, UNESCO’s MGIEP will launch an SDG-inspired video game in which players help solve global problems such as displacement, disease, deforestation, drought and pollution at the community level.*

The UNESCO Week is organized with financial support from UNESCO, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan through the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust for ESD. Additional support for the Week is provided by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, the Global Centre for Pluralism and the Canadian Museum of History.

Categories: News

Public–private partnerships helping to take public agendas forward

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 13:38
focus_earth-moon_shutterstock_dpl_en.jpg © Shutterstock/MarcelClemens.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed on Monday 27 February that two customers had booked a private flight around the Moon. The journey has been tentatively scheduled for late next year.

This project could be the face of things to come, with commercial partners taking over from the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) in developing the space economy, while NASA focuses on deep space exploration.

NASA said as much in a statement published on 28 February. After commending SpaceX on its initiative, NASA explained that it was ‘changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships to help build a strong American space economy and free the agency to focus on developing the next-generation rocket, spacecraft and systems to go beyond the moon and sustain deep space exploration.’

NASA currently pays the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, to fly American astronauts to the International Space Station. With NASA’s research budget being smaller now (in constant dollars) than 20 years ago, according to the UNESCO Science Report, NASA has been obliged to shift its focus ‘away from human spaceflight, as part of a cost-cutting drive’.

SpaceX has stepped into the breach. It acts as a contractor to NASA. A milestone in this unconventional partnership was reached in 2012, when SpaceX’s ‘Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to fly cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS)’. SpaceX has not been able to transport astronauts to ISS up until now but Dragon 2 has been designed to carry passengers. It is scheduled to make its maiden flight to ISS later this year but without any astronauts abroad. Dragon 2 would also be used to fly the two tourists to the Moon.

Billionaires like Elon Musk are exerting a growing influence on US research priorities, observes the UNESCO Science Report, with some privately funded groups having ‘stepped in when political will is weak’.

Whereas, in the case of SpaceX, erstwhile federal priorities have now been taken up by billionaires, things have sometimes happened the other way round. ‘Before President Obama announced his initiative in favour of Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN)’ in April 2013, recounts the UNESCO Science Report, ‘Paul G. Allen and Fred Kavli had established privately funded brain institutes in the State of Washington and at the three Universities of Yale, Columbia and California’. It was scientists working at those institutes who helped the government to develop its own BRAIN Initiative, which involves federal agencies, industry and philanthropy.

A way to overcome austerity budgets

Between 2013 and 2016, executive efforts to increase allocations to US federal research were repeatedly thwarted, with Congress withholding approval of the federal government's budget several times as part of an austerity drive. It was largely thanks to partnerships forged by the government with industry and the private non-profit sector that the Obama administration was able to take its agenda forward in its priority areas of public health and climate change.

One such partnership is developing up to five pilot projects by 2019 for three common but difficult-to-treat diseases: Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 (adult onset) diabetes and the autoimmune disorders of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. At the launch of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership in February 2014, National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis S. Collins said that ‘currently, we are investing too much time and money in avenues that don’t pan out, while patients and their families wait’.

In addition to the NIH, the Accelerating Medicines Partnership involves the Food and Drug Administration, as well as several non-profit organizations and 10 major biopharmaceutical corporations. Three of these are not US corporations, namely GlaxoSmithKline (UK), Sanofi (France) and Takeda (Japan). Laboratories share samples, such as blood or brain tissue from deceased patients, to identify biomarkers. They also participate in NIH clinical trials. ‘One critical component is that industry partners have agreed to make the data and analyses arising from the partnership accessible to the broad biomedical community’, observes the UNESCO Science Report. ‘They will not use any discoveries to develop their own drug until these findings have been made public’.

Another public–private partnership acknowledges that the USA will only be able to reach its emissions reduction targets with the involvement of industrial stakeholders. On 27 July 2015, the White House announced that 13 large US companies had committed to investing US$ 140 billion in low carbon emission projects, as part of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. For instance, Bank of America undertook to increase its investment in favouring the environment from US$ 50 billion at present to US$ 125 billion by 2025. Coca-cola agreed to reduce its carbon footprint by one-quarter by 2020. Google, the world leader for the purchase of renewable energy to run its data centres, pledged to triple its purchases over the next decade. Walmart promised to double the number of its supermarkets running on renewable energy by 2020. Berkshire Hathaway Energy (Warren Buffett group) announced plans to double its investment in renewable energy to US$ 30 billion and Alcoa, the aluminium manufacturer, to halve its carbon emissions by 2025.

A way to foster economic recovery

The European Union (EU) is fostering public–private partnerships to take its own agenda forward. The Factories of the Future partnership was launched in 2008 under the European Economic Recovery Plan, at a time when all but three EU countries (Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia) were in recession. Some 150 projects involving top industrial companies and research institutions in Europe were funded within the Factories of the Future partnership under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2007–2013).This partnership is being pursued under the current framework programme, Horizon 2020 (2014–2020).

One research focus of the Factories of the Future partnership has been the digitalization of industry, considered essential for revigorating European competitiveness in manufacturing. In Germany, for instance, the digitalization of industry has been central to the country’s High-tech Strategy since 2011. A new Industry 4.0 platform – a reference to the new Fourth Industrial Revolution – called Made in Germany was launched in April 2015. It is operated by the federal government (economic affairs and research ministries), firms, business associations, research institutes and trade unions. Although some Industry 4.0 technologies are already becoming a reality, with smart factories like that of Siemens already in existence, a lot of research remains to be done.

Europe has been a major producer of new knowledge but it has performed less well in turning new ideas into commercially successful products and processes. Science and innovation face a more fragmented market than large economies comprised of a single nation state, such as the USA or Japan . The EU thus needs a common research policy to avoid duplicating research efforts in different member states.

EU research policy has had a strong focus on innovation since 2010, when the Innovation Union flagship project was introduced. This name covers 34 commitments and related deliverables designed to remove the obstacles to innovation, such as expensive patenting, market fragmentation, slow standard-setting and skills shortages. The Innovation Union is also revolutionizing the way in which the public and private sectors work together, notably through innovation partnerships between European institutions, national and regional authorities and businesses. This policy is reflected at the national level, with the policies of the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Romania and others all stressing a shift in focus towards public–private partnerships.

A way to link industrial policy to innovation

In Latin America, the face of public–private partnerships has changed in recent years. In a region where industry makes only a modest contribution to research and development – just 0.12% of GDP in Argentina and 0.17% in Mexico in 2013 –, Brazil and, to a lesser extent, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay, have all sought to link industrial policy to innovation through the creation of sectorial funds.

Brazil was the first to channel taxes levied on specific state-owned companies towards fostering industrial development in key industries and services; it established as many as 14 sectorial funds between 1999 and 2002, in fields such as oil and gas, energy, space and information technology. More recently, both Brazil and Uruguay have launched sectorial funds promoting public–private partnerships in the agro-industry. Mexico adopted 11 sectorial funds in 2003 and a twelfth targeting sustainability research in 2008.

The Argentine Sectorial Fund (FONARSEC, est. 2009) uses public–private partnerships to improve competitiveness in the following sectors: biotechnology, nanotechnology, information and communication technologies (ICTs), energy, health, agribusiness, social development, environment and climate change. Argentina has also created a Sectorial Fund for Software (FONSOFT, est. 2004).

On 30 November 2016, Argentina passed a law on Public–Private Partnership Contracts to regulate and stimulate private investment in key sectors of the economy such as infrastructure development, production, housing, services, applied research and technological innovation. The law comes just two months after Argentina approved an ambitious national transportation infrastructure plan valued at US$35 billion.

Industry contributed 0.52% of GDP to Brazilian research in 2012, the highest share in the region, equivalent to almost half (45%) of the national research effort. Despite this, Brazil has not yet managed to harness innovation to economic growth. Labour productivity has stagnated since the 1980s and Brazil’s share of world exports has receded in recent years to 1.4%. Innovation still tends to involve technology transfer from the public to private sectors.

To compound matters, the current slowdown in the Brazilian economy has revealed the limitations of sectoral funds. With profits down in many quarters, the government is funding it harder to collect this revenue from industry.

Most Brazilian firms still show little interest in developing new technologies. There are, of course, some notable exceptions, such as Embraer, the aircraft manufacturer, Petrobras, the state oil company, Vale, the large mining conglomerate, and Natura Cosméticos, Brazil’s market leader for personal hygiene products, cosmetics and perfumes. Brazilian companies are also innovative in the field of agriculture.

Natura Cosméticos ploughs about 3% of its revenue back into research and development. As a result, two-thirds of revenue from sales in 2013 involved innovative products released in the previous two years.

Natura has established a number of research partnerships with public bodies. The company uses plant extracts to create new products, a process which requires interaction with Amazonian communities and partnerships with research institutes like the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (Embrapa) and the Federal University of Santa Catarina. This collaborative research generates new patents. In 2015, Natura also partnered with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) to establish the Applied Research Centre in Wellbeing and Human Behaviour. The new centre includes research facilities based at the state’s public universities.

Partnerships that take government priorities forward

In sub-Saharan Africa, government spending on public health varies widely, from 0.8% of GDP in South Sudan and 1.1% of GDP in Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria to as much as 9.1% of GDP in Lesotho. A number of governments have engaged in public–private partnerships to supplement public expenditure. For instance, in 2012, the Government of Gabon partnered with Shell Gabon to establish a ‘fun’ approach to learning about HIV which targets youth, called Gaming for HIV Prevention, at a time when tuberculosis is becoming more prevalent. In 2013, Gabon devoted 2.1% of GDP to public health.

There are more than 200 inhabited islands in the Maldives. Here, the government is encouraging public–private partnerships by offering land and other incentives to private companies to set up institutions on some of these islands. One such partnership dates from 2014 and involves the Indian company Tata, which has agreed to set up a medical college and develop a regional hospital on Lamu Atoll.

Technology incubation hubs are springing up across Africa in the field of information technology, in particular. In Kenya, one pioneer is iHub. Set up in Nairobi in 2010 by an independent technologist called Eric Herson, iHUB provides an open space for young tech entrepreneurs, programmers, investors and companies. IHUB has since forged partnerships with several multinational corporations, including Google, Nokia and Samsung, as well as with the Kenyan government’s ICT Board. In December 2013, the government announced that it would be establishing technology incubation hubs in all 47 counties.

In Uganda, meanwhile, the government is prioritizing the development of a backbone infrastructure network, such as the deployment of fibre-optic cables, through the Uganda Investment Authority. This parastatal agency works with the government to facilitate private sector investment in ICTs and other areas.

In September 2013, the government launched a Business Process Outsourcing Incubation Centre at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics. The centre is run by three private companies. The aim is to stimulate investment in services enabled by information technology, in order to reduce youth unemployment.

The government also hopes to create new businesses and jobs in the agribusiness industry, through a public–private partnership targeting young innovators. A non-profit company called the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited was launched in May 2014 and is based at Makerere University.

Many projects target industrial development

As demonstrated by many of the aforementioned projects, industrial development is a key focus of public–private partnerships. In February 2013, the Gabonese government partnered with Ireland Blyth Limited to develop the Gabonese seafood and maritime industries.

Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah’, as the government has branded the Konza Technology City currently under construction, is financed on the basis of a public–private partnership. The government provides basic infrastructure and supporting policy and regulatory frameworks, leaving private investors to build and operate the industrial development. It is hoped to create 200 000 jobs in information technology by 2030.

In Sri Lanka, a group of domestic corporate giants have partnered with a public body to build a national innovation platform for technology-based economic development through the commercialization of nanotechnology. The Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) was established as a joint venture in 2008 by the National Science Foundation and Sri Lankan corporate giants that include Brandix, Dialog, Hayleys and Loadstar. SLINTEC aims to raise the proportion of high-tech exports from 1.5% to 10% of total exports by 2015 by bringing nanotechnology research and business together.

Renewable energy is another key focus of public–private partnerships. In Morocco, the government has partnered with a consortium led by the Saudi Arabian company Acwa Power and its Spanish partner Sener to help create the world’s biggest solar farm in Ouarzazate.

In Kenya, where almost half of electricity comes from hydroelectricity and the growing frequency of drought is causing water and power shortages, the government plans to develop its geothermal fields in the Rift Valley. The Geothermal Development Company was formed in 2009 under the Energy Act (2006). The state company cushions investors from both public and private power companies from the high capital investment risks associated with drilling geothermal wells. However, in its fiscal year budget for 2012–2013, the government allocated just US$20 million to the Geothermal Development Company out of a total budget for the exploration and development of geothermal power and coal of US$340 million.

In January 2013, the Rwandan Ministry of Education established the Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme, in collaboration with the African Development Bank, to foster industrial development. By 2015, the programme had sponsored five partnerships between private companies and the University of Rwanda’s two Colleges of Science and Technology and Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. The company contributes its idea for product or service development and the university provides the appropriate expertise.

University–industry partnerships do not seem to be as common as one would expect, despite the fact that they are considered important by public policies. A 2014 survey by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics found that, in most of the 65 countries surveyed, fewer than one in five manufacturing firms that were active innovators chose to partner with universities. Among low-income countries, Kenya stood out, as almost half of firms in this country (46%) reported partnerships with industry. Firms in Rwanda did not respond to the survey.

 

Partnerships that train personnel in strategic economic sectors

The UNESCO Science Report extolls the virtues of partnership with foreign multinationals to train personnel. Developing economies can ‘draw on the knowledge and skills embedded in the activities of large foreign firms, in order to develop the same level of professionalism among local suppliers and firms’, it explains. ‘By encouraging foreign high-tech manufacturers to run training programmes in the host country, governments will also be drawing manufacturers into national training strategies, with positive spin-offs for both producers and suppliers’.

Synopsys Inc. is a good example of this approach. In October 2014, the multinational corporation celebrated ten years in Armenia. It specializes in the provision of software and related services to accelerate innovation in chips and electronic systems. Today, it employs 650 people in Armenia. In 2004, Synopsys Inc. acquired LEDA Systems, which had established an Interdepartmental Chair on Microelectronic Circuits and Systems with the State Engineering University of Armenia. The Chair, now part of the global Synopsys University Programme, supplies Armenia with more than 60 microchip and electronic design automation specialists each year. Synopsys has since expanded this initiative by opening interdepartmental chairs at Yerevan State University, the Russian–Armenian (Slavonic) University and the European Regional Academy.

In Malaysia, a group of ten multinationals based in Malaysia established a platform in 2012 to promote collaborative research among industry, academia and the government to satisfy the research needs of the country’s electrical and electronics industries, which employ nearly 5 000 research scientists and engineers. Agilent Technologies, Intel, Motorola Solutions, Silterra and other multinational corporations generate close to MYR 25 billion (circa US$ 6.9 billion) in annual revenue and spend nearly MYR 1.4 billion on research and development. They have extensively utilized government research grants ever since the government decided in 2005 to extend the reach of the grants beyond domestic firms to multinational beneficiaries. Besides research, the focus is on talent development, the ultimate aim being to help industry add greater value to its products.

In the USA, the government announced the American Apprenticeship Grants competition in December 2014. The competition encourages public–private partnerships between employers, business associations, lawyers associations, community colleges, local and state governments and non-governmental organizations to develop high-quality apprentice programmes in strategic areas, such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, business services and health care. The scheme has been implemented by the Department of Labor with an investment of US$100 million.

Source: adapted from UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, published in 2015

Categories: News

Media and Information Literacy is no longer negotiable in our current context: UNESCO supports national consultations in Albania

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 11:16
news_020317_mil.jpg © UNESCO 02 March 2017In order to engage various stakeholders in a dialogue about further policy and strategy development of Media and Information Literacy (MIL), the Albanian Media Institute (AMI), in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sport, organized national consultations on MIL in Tirana on 21 February. This event brought together an array of different actors from the governmental and non-governmental sector.

The discussion emphasized that a need for MIL is no longer negotiable in our current context. The consultations also identified the main trends and actors that are currently engaged in MIL, including actors that can also become involved in future. The focus was on specific roles and strategic paths they can all uptake in order to have a more systematic, integrated and strategic approach to MIL in formal, informal, and non-formal education. AMI is a member organization of the South East European Network of Professionalization of Media (SEENPM), and national consultations were organized in the framework of the EU-UNESCO funded project ”Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey”.

“The current challenge we are facing is no longer where to find information, but how to manage information and how to navigate in this ocean of information. The phenomenon of fake news that is currently emerging makes this challenge even more important. That is the reason why we are discussing Media and Information Literacy today and how we should deal with it in the future,” said Remzi Lani, Director of Albanian Media Institute.

Commitment by the government to develop MIL

“Although MIL exists in the education regulation in the forms of competencies that students have to gain, more should be done to bring the curricula in line with MIL,” stressed Dritan Sallaku, the representative of the Ministry of Education. Milena Harito, the Minister of Innovation and Public Administration, reiterated the commitment of Albanian government to strengthening information infrastructure in the country, and expressed the support of her ministry and of the government for media and information literacy policies and initiatives.

The importance of curriculum development  

Educational experts highlighted the gap that exists between the curricula and the education law in terms of MIL. “We definitely have to invest in the curricula aspect and in the capacities that we are missing at the moment,” said Bardhyl Musai, education expert. Representatives from universities also stressed that the absence of MIL in education is visible even at university level.

“Sometimes even journalism students are not capable of making the difference between news and advertorial content, or news and public relations material. We can imagine then the situation with other students and the public in general,” said Jonila Godole, professor of journalism at the University of Tirana, reinforcing the importance of curricula development on MIL.

Libraries: integrating MIL concepts in training

As the development of MIL in Albania is still in the initial phases, the concept is mostly known to a limited circle of professionals. “While the National Library has tried to integrate the concept and its elements in its training programmes and spread the knowledge among high school students, more should be done from different actors to promote the concept among citizens,” highlighted Etleva Domi, Deputy Director of the National Library.  Other representatives from the media field also highlighted that initiatives on MIL should involve different actors in a coordinated manner, in order to raise public awareness on MIL and improve capacities of citizens to find, understand, interpret and use media content and information. This is especially important for youth.

“The more capable the youth is in content production, the easier it will become for them to understand the mechanisms of information and media, and to understand what is propaganda and advertisement,” said Blendi Salaj, from Media Aktive, an organization that has engaged in media and youth initiatives.

Development of a position paper on MIL in Albania

The discussion also assessed other mechanisms that can be used so that the public can critically engage with media, such as councils of viewers and listeners, and other similar citizens’ groups that can act as a bridge between public, information and media. The importance of involving public broadcasting service in MIL initiatives was another trend that emerged from the discussion.

The recommendations and discussion points from the national consultations will be reflected in the final Position Paper on MIL in Albania, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sport, and will be the policy and strategy base for considering initiatives of different actors in this field and potential ways of cooperation between different sectors. These activities are initial steps towards developing national MIL policies in Albania. “MIL is indispensable to build public trust in media and information and to tackle fake news in Albania and globally,” according to Alton Grizzle, UNESCO’s officer responsible for MIL programme.

Categories: News

Honduran municipality receives “Tsunami Ready” recognition for meeting international tsunami preparedness standards

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 09:43

Cedeño (Honduras) has become the first municipality in Honduras to meet international requirements of preparedness and response to these natural disasters, receiving the first “Tsunami Ready” recognition on a pilot programme under the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/PTWS) of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).

On 16 February, Cedeño inhabitants participated in its first regional tsunami simulation exercise to implement established early warning and response protocols. The activity began in the office of Hondura’s Permanent Commission for Contingencies (COPECO), with the simulation of an earthquake in Ecuador that led to a tsunami alert.

The simulated alert was followed by the distribution of a Green Alert bulletin to the Local Emergency Committee (CODEL) and thereafter a Yellow Alert bulletin triggering an evacuation simulation exercise involving more than 1000 members of the Cedeño municipality as a whole, including children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Representatives of UNESCO’s IOC, its International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC), and executives of the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program (CTWP) supervised the exercise alongside experts from Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Recognition

IOC granted Cedeño the “Tsunami Ready” recognition based on the successful outcome of the simulation, but also based on the development and preparation phase that preceded the exercise.

COPECO's Risk Prevention Deputy Commissioner Nelly Jerez explained that this is the first tsunami simulation to be carried out in the six Central American nations to assist regional tsunami preparedness and response efforts. The exercise followed two years of work on tsunami wave modelling, contingency plans, maps and alert protocols by staff at COPECO and the municipalities of Cedeño and Marcovia. The work has been supported financially by the U.S. Government through USAID and technically by the International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC), the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Programme (CTWP), UNESCO’s IOC, the, and by various national and local partners.

The Cedeño exercise is only the beginning of a process that will lead Honduras to receive countrywide Tsunami Ready recognition. Honduran authorities are planning similar exercises for the Omoa and La Ceiba communities in coming months.

"The important thing is that the community of Cedeño has reflected what has been learned and valued what was not done well to improve," said Deputy Commissioner Jerez.

Head of Hondura’s Early Warning System (SAT), Juan José Reyes, highlighted that this pilot plan will serve as an example for the rest of Central and Latin American countries. Though tsunamis are not so frequent in Honduras, they have happened in the past and may happen again at any time, leaving the south and north coasts vulnerable, he concluded. Mr Reyes also hopes that the exercise will help villagers respond more effectively to tidal waves using tsunami prevention and rescue mechanisms.

According to historical data, Central America has experienced 49 tsunamis. Only one tsunami has ever been recorded in Honduras, on 4 August 1856.

For more information, please contact:

Bernardo Aliaga (b.aliaga@unesco.org)

Categories: News

MAB Programme meets with the French National Forestry Office at the International Agriculture Fair

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 17:56

On 28 February 2017, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme was invited to meet with the Minister of Agriculture of France, S.E. Stéphane Le Foll, and the Director-General of the National Forestry Office (ONF), Mr Christian Dubreuil, at the ONF stand at the International Agriculture Fair held in Paris, France (25 February to 5 March 2017).

During the visit, the representative of the MAB Programme, the Minister of Agriculture and the Director of the ONF, discussed the Biosphere Reserve of Fontainebleau and the Gâtinais, located near Paris. This area was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1998, and presents a variety of challenges related to biodiversity in diverse ecosystems within an urbanized area.

Categories: News

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