Previous Fora / 2003


Science and knowledge are our major assets. The advent of the 21st century has brought new challenges to mankind, alongside the old and unanswered ones, including those related to peace, justice, the quality of life and sustainable development. Science and knowledge face significant new challenges, too. How are we to meet these challenges?

In order to tackle these issues and prompt a world-wide discussion about the new roles and challenges of science and knowledge in the global society of the 21st century, and as a follow-up to the successful World Conference on Science in 1999, organised by UNESCO and ICSU in Budapest, Hungary, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences initiates a world forum series on science, knowledge, information and their role in society.

Under the auspices of the President of Hungary, Professor Ferenc Mádl, the first World Science Forum Budapest will take place in November 2003. The Forum at this time will focus on Knowledge and Society.

E. Sylvester Vizi
President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences,
Chair of the World Science Forum Budapest

Norbert Kroó
Secretary General of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences,
Chair of the Organising Committee

Balázs Gulyás
External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences,
Executive Director of the Organising Committee

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.