Previous Fora / 2003


What is the mission of the forum? 
Who will be addressed?
What themes it will focus on?
What are the questions to be discussed?
What outcome is expected?


What is the mission of the forum?

By the end of the 20th century, science and knowledge became essential parts of our everyday lives. Scientific knowledge is not only the result of our inherent curiosity and scientific endeavor, it is a powerful means of understanding human nature, society, and the Nature in which we live. Advance in science is a major contributor to society's socio-economic development, the global welfare of humankind, our relation to Nature, and the quality of our lives.

In past centuries the predominant role of science was the production of new knowledge to satisfy the curiosity of the human mind. In recent years, the role of science has undergone changes, as scientific inquiry has increasingly become the motor of development in society. By the end of the 20th century, science has acquired a number of new roles. These novel roles may - and should - contribute in a decisive manner to the daily life of humankind in the 21st century.

In spite of its spectacular development and new opportunities, the science of 21st century faces wavering confidence, unseen dilemmas and brand-new questions. These problems can be solved only if the main procedures and users of knowledge are able to reach common ground for the new roles of knowledge and science in 21st century's global Society.

In 1999, UNESCO and ICSU organised the World Conference on Science in Budapest. The delegates decided on a series of follow-up conferences to the Conference, whose rationale was embodied in the two documents adopted by the Conference:

  • Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge
    (, which underscores the
    importance of political commitment to the support of scientific endeavour and to the
    solution of problems at the interface between science and society;

  • Science Agenda-Framework for Action:
    (, an innovative and
    pragmatic proposed structure to foster partnership in science and use science to benefit
    development and the environment. To further promote the status of science in the life of
    humankind, UNESCO has designated 10 November as the World Day of Science.

The World Science Forum Budapest on 8-10 November 2003 at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Hungarian Parliament will provide a unique forum for a much needed genuine debate and hopefully lasting interaction between the scientific community and Society.

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Who will be addressed?

The Forum will address the scientific community, educational and research establishments, opinion leaders in the field of culture, social and political policymakers, industrial and economic decision-makers, the media and the general public.

Those with a vested interest in science and its "classic" and novel roles in societal development are welcome to become active participants of the Forum. The Forum will match the major producers of new knowledge - representatives of academia, scientists, innovators and researchers - with consumers - representatives of society, decision-makers in economy, finance and politics, and media commentators - to discuss the optimal means of utilizing knowledge in the everyday life of humankind.

Participation in the Forum is by invitation only. The 400 invited participants will be selected to provide the finest cross-section of current world thinking in the professions represented.

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What themes it will focus on?

The Forum will focus on the following themes:

  • Knowledge-based society
  • Knowledge-based economy
  • Knowledge and science, the production and dissemination of knowledge
  • Knowledge and quality of life
  • Knowledge, environment, development and society
  • Information-based society and knowledge

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What are the questions to be discussed?

Knowledge-based society:

What, if any, is the value of knowledge in the 21st century?
Should society heed science? Or science society?
What are the expectations of the producers and the consumers of knowledge?

Knowledge-based economy:

Science - as the motor force of economic development?
By what new means can a knowledge-based economy improve a lot of people worldwide?

Knowledge, science and research:

In the 21st century beyond, do the potential benefits of scientific research justify the requisite cost and effort?
Research and technology - as the predominant sources of knowledge?

Knowledge and quality of life:

Can science improve not just the length, but the quality of life? If so, how?
Does science bear responsibility to enrich the meaning of life?

Knowledge, environment, and development:

The contribution of technological advance to environmental protection and sustainable growth: what are the burning
and unresolved questions?
Does the scientist bear any ethical responsibility for the application of science?

Knowledge and information:

Why is knowledge-based society more than information-society?
What are the differences? What are the expectations of each side from the other?

And the questions of questions:

Do we have defined goals for the future?
Is it necessary to define such goals?

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What outcome is expected?

The main objective of the Forum is to raise awareness worldwide towards the increasing and novel roles of knowledge, science and their societal impact on the 21st century.

The Forum will provide a rare opportunity for extensive discussion leading to a new 'social contract' based on science and knowledge.

The Forum will result in position papers to be discussed, amended and approved at the Forum by the participants. Implementation of the position papers will be recommended by the Forum. A detailed follow-up operation will be conducted by an organization created by the Forum. Its task will also include the preparation of a series of similar future forums, the advising of governments, organizations and policy makers on implementing the recommendations of the Forum, follow-up of the implementations of the recommendations, training of experts in knowledge management, the analysis of knowledge management and the new roles of knowledge worldwide.


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