Previous Fora / 2005


Session 1 – Science and Public Policy
Session 2 – Capacity Building and Implementation
Session 3 – The Role of Business
Session 4 – The Perspective from Developing Countries
Session 5 – The Future of the Environment
Session 6 – Educating Future Generations
Special Session – Science in a Democratic World: the Role of Parliaments
World Science Forum 2005 – General Recommendations

Session 1 – Science and Public Policy

Facilitators and rapporteurs


Peter A. Freeman, Assistant Director, National Science Foundation, USA


Annie I. Antón, North Carolina State University, USA


István Hargittai, Professor of Chemistry, Budapest University of Technology and Economics

William Lanouette, Writer and Public Policy Analyst, Leo Szilárd Biographer

Peter D. Lax, Abel Laureate, Professor of Mathematics, New York University

Summary of the session

Science has played a role in significant public policy decisions ever since the advent of the atomic bomb, and continues to do so to this day in issues such as stem cells, global warming and nuclear energy. The interaction between scientists and public policy decision-makers has never been easy. Scientists often feel that public policy is made without proper understanding of the scientific issues, while public policy professionals and decision-makers sometimes tend to dismiss the views of scientists as too narrow. Since Hiroshima, the issues have been too great for this divide to persist, so the theme of this session was to try to understand better why scientists and policymakers have difficulty communicating and what we all, but scientists in particular, can do about it.

István Hargittai discussed how the relationship between science and armaments changed radically during the 20th century. Poison-gas warfare in the First World War, atomic bombs in the Second World War and the peacekeeping balance of “mutually assured destruction” by hydrogen bomb during the Cold War demonstrated different kinds of involvement, while today’s potential dangers of biological warfare in the hands of international terrorism could herald an unprecedented development. Hargittai spoke about how the world community must be vigilant in protecting itself against such a calamity – and how scientists have a special responsibility in helping the public to make informed decisions about how to use the achievements of modern science.

William Lanouette then spoke on the physicist and arms-control activist Leo Szilárd (1898-1964), who approached science and politics with the same eclectic and creative style. Szilárd theorised that science proceeds by subversion rather than, as Thomas Kuhn proposed, paradigm shifts. In his work in thermodynamics, physics and biology, Szilárd infiltrated and negated what was already known and reformulated it into new discoveries. He remains a model for scientists today.

Peter D. Lax focused on the coming energy crisis, pointing out that with the world is running out of oil within a decade or so, the time to start major efforts to conserve energy usage and develop new energy sources is now. The French have shown that this can be done with fission reactors, and while there is a prejudice against nuclear energy; it is down to scientists and statesmen to dispel that prejudice.

Curt Suplee then explored how scientists and policymakers might work together more fruitfully. Suplee noted that many problems arise from mutual misunderstanding. Policymakers do not understand that there is a broad consensus on even the most controversial issues. Scientists do not understand how desperately policymakers need to know that disagreements in interpretation among researchers do not mean that the entire subject is in doubt. And the intervention of the press, which provides the basic information for decision-making by both groups, simply muddies the water further. Reporters’ laudable obsession with “fairness” and “balance” make controversies where there are none by insisting on quoting a loud dissident voice when 99 per cent of scientists actually agree.

The great core of agreed-upon understanding – such as the physics of climate – is never presented to policymakers, said Suplee. Consequently, politicians never have an opportunity to learn that there is a vast and well-established consensus around many subjects, from climate change to stem cells.

Question-and-answer sessions after the talks covered several main topics, including nuclear weapons and nuclear energy; the need to look at other areas, especially biotechnology and the potential for bioterrorism; the need for science education at all levels; and ways to bridge the gap between scientists and decision-makers.

Conclusions and recommendations


  • There are at least four stakeholder groups – scientists, policymakers, news media, and the general public – that are not entirely comfortable working with each other because they are driven by different objectives.

  • In the past, large projects such as those in the US – including the Manhattan Project and the lunar landings – were decision-makers’ responses to major issues involving science and focused on a single goal or event. This may no longer be the best model.

  • In many areas today, economic incentives must be provided to ensure the full participation of all elements that might be included in a science-based activity. The Human Genome Project may be a good example, since it started as a government initiative but, once the potential for economic reward was seen, attracted the participation of private industry.

  • With the Internet, everyone can have a piece of the information and the solution, but this leads to a much more fractured situation than in the past; this makes control and decision-making especially challenging.

  • Scientists often refrain from voicing their opinion about questions that stem from their own or other people’s results.

  • Science is seldom popular in schools and universities, and poorly understood by politicians and the public.


  • New models, including incentives for broad popular and economic participation, must be employed for science-based initiatives.

  • Scientists should do more than the average citizen to influence policy.

  • Science education should be revised at all educational levels, from schools to universities, to broaden general understanding about science within the context of diverse fields (such as the humanities or social sciences) as well as to attract more students to science.

  • Scientists, politicians and the general public must work together to insure that good science supports decisions made for society at large.

  • Scientists should communicate their research and results to the public as well as to decision-makers.

  • Scientists have the responsibility to communicate the ethical standards that guide their work and the ethical controversies that may surround it, especially to the next generation of scientists.

Session 2 – Capacity Building and Implementation: the case of India

Facilitators and rapporteurs


Alec Boksenberg CBE FRS, The Royal Society, UK


Mustafa El-Tayeb, Director, Science Policy and Sustainable Development Division, UNESCO


Diana Malpede, Science Policy and Sustainable Development Division, UNESCO


Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO

Anant Mashelkar, President, Indian Academy of Sciences

Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology

Turner Isoun, Minister of Science and Technology, government of Nigeria

Mohamed Hassan, Executive Director, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)

Summary of the session

During the first part of the session, participants discussed the issue of capacity building in science, technology and innovation by looking at India as a specific case – a country seen as both developing and, in the case of its intellectual infrastructure, developed. The role of India as an emerging global innovation hub in science and technology, as well as its growing importance in information and communication technologies, were discussed.

Turner Isoun spoke about Nigeria and its efforts to reform and restructure its science and technology systems, as well as his views on the development of science and technology in Africa generally.

Mohamed Hassan of TWAS covered science capacity building in developing countries, emphasising the vital role played by science education and the universities in particular. Hassan stressed the need to train a new generation of problem-solving scientists and turn science into a demand-driven enterprise.

The participants agreed that capacity building in science and technology must be a main priority, as it is a necessary prerequisite for achieving the ultimate goal of sustainable development – and that countries need to develop indigenous capacity to succeed.

It was recognized that the old North-South divide in science capacity is shifting. A growing number of developing nations, led by Brazil, China, India and South Korea but also including Chile, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, are now making serious and substantial commitments to science and science-based development – all with promising results.

The participants also recognized that for national and global capacity building in science and technology to move forward, a number of basic factors need to be in place: the capacity of school systems to attract and motivate children to study science; the capacity of governments and private bodies to maintain universities with the standards and infrastructure that will attract, train and retain scientific talent; and the capacity of universities to serve as generators of ideas.

Conclusions and recommendations

  • Science education is an integral part of capacity building, so particular emphasis should be given to innovative means of attracting young people to science.

  • Universities and research institutes are pivotal institutions in securing the development of science. An important part of the research agenda should be to train a new generation of problem-solving scientists and turn science into a demand-driven enterprise where research is often directed towards critical social and economic needs.

  • Regional centres and network of excellence should play a central role in advancing the knowledge, understanding and application of science.

  • The long-term nature of capacity building and the vast scale of resources required for it means that it is very difficult for a single country to make a sustainable impact. Global capacity building in science and technology and the active participation of the international scientific community in partnership with all sectors of society will be needed.

  • For many years, developing countries lamented the “brain drain” – scientists trained in their own countries leaving to pursue careers in the North. The experience of China, India and South Korea have shown that the brain drain can be turned into brain gain and brain circulation by devising effective strategies to engage a nation’s scientific diaspora for the benefit of their countries. Scientific exchange programmes, visiting professorship and joint research projects are examples of useful North-South scientific cooperation.

  • Exchanging and sharing experiences and good practices is an excellent means of enhancing capacity building.

  • Capacity building is a national as well as a global responsibility and it is one of the most important challenges facing science policy. Building human and institutional capacities must be guided by proper national policies associated with relevant and effective strategies and action plans, which should be integrated in national development aims.

Session 3 – The Role of Business

Facilitators and rapporteurs

Facilitators :

Philippe De Woot De Trixhe, Professor Emeritius, Université Catholique de Louvain

Alain Pompidou, President, European Patent Office

Sir Roger Elliot, Chair of the Intellectual Property Committee, ALLEA- All European Academies


András László, President and CEO, Eurovisioning, Belgium


Philippe De Woot De Trixhe, Professor Emeritius, Université Catholique de Louvain

Alain Pompidou, President, European Patent Office

Sir Roger Elliot, Chair of the Intellectual Property Committee, ALLEA- All European Academies

Gaëll Mainguy, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche, France

Greg Perry, Director General, European Generic Medicine Association

Fide Castro Díaz-Balart, Scientific Advisor, State Council, Republic of Cuba

Joseph Straus, Max-Planck-Institut

Danny Quah, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Sir Brian Fender, Chief Executive, HEFCE

Pieter Drenth, President, All European Academies (ALLEA)

Rehda Mathnani, representative of Minister of Education, Tunisia

Summary of the session

The focus of this session was the “valorisation” of knowledge in the 21st century – that is, finding a way to fix and materialise its value. This will require a new model of interaction between the producers of knowledge, or the scientific world/academia, and the “industrial consumers” of knowledge, or the business world – a model that aims to be a non-exploiting, inclusive, humanistic interaction between two equal partners.

The purpose of globally responsible businesses is to create economic and social progress in a responsible and sustainable way. In the light of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the UN Global Compact, and acting in accordance with a yet to be established code of global business ethics and global governance, businesses have the capacity to lead the way and show responsible leadership in partnership with the multiple stakeholders of society towards sustainable development that has a realistic future.

For this to happen, the forces of scientific advancement – a main driver for development in society – must find common ground with the business world, which has become one of the most influential institutions worldwide, with a tremendous opportunity and a global responsibility to shape a sustainable world for today’s and tomorrow’s generations.

Conclusions and recommendations

  • We need to reassess the dominant business model towards a global governance.

  • Encouraging the progression from shareholder value to stakeholder value, from compliance to ethics (what world do we want to build together?), and from short-term maximization to social and political debate is vital.

  • There is a need for stronger enforcement of the criteria for granting patents and greater encouragement of the development of genuine innovation.

  • Mutual understanding to bridge the cultural gap between science and business must grow, with the focus on interconnectedness, interdependence, ethics and inclusive ways of sharing both scientific and business best practices.

  • The complementary roles of business and academia in the creation, transfer and exploitation of scientific knowledge should be optimised.

  • Intellectual property rights (IPRs) should be used to encourage innovation, but not in ways which restrict access to the results of fundamental research and harm intellectual diversity.

  • A scientific conscience and a proper sense of values and standards need to be fostered, as well as the development of rules of good practice, as a major commission of universities and learned societies.

  • A partnership between business and academia should be encouraged to provide new opportunities for scientists to engage in the social debate.

  • Proper public awareness of the important role of science and technology should be furthered through a fair and open dissemination of scientific information, and an open and honest dialogue with the general public and the media, as well as placing “responsible science” high on the policy making agenda.

  • Universities need to be encouraged to formally and strategically incorporate knowledge transfer as a “third mission” activity alongside teaching and research, with the support of government funding.

  • The countries of the European Union need to focus on compliance with the Lisbon Agenda (investment of at least 3 per cent of gross national product in R & D), the guarantee of social justice, respect for the environment, and the provision of the necessary framework for successful transfer of research results into innovative practice.

  • For developing countries to forge partnerships between academia and business, there needs to be improvement of the educational infrastructure, the creation of regional centres with high standards, accessibility of information and an optimal knowledge transfer.

Session 4 – The Perspective from Developing Countries

Facilitators and rapporteurs


Goverdhan Mehta, President, International Council for Science (ICSU)

Thomas Rosswall, Executive Director, International Council for Science (ICSU)


Anupam Varma, Chairman, ICSU Regional Committee for Asia and the Pacific, India


Mohamed Hassan, Executive Director, Third World Academy of Sciences

Anupam Varma, Chairman, ICSU regional Committee for Asia and the Pacific

Marian Ewurama Addy, Chair, ICSU-PCDC

Summary of the session

Developing countries today face enormous problems – poverty, hunger, malnutrition, epidemics, environmental degradation, dwindling natural resources and acute shortage of energy and potable water. The global population passed 6 billion at the beginning of this century, and it is expected to touch the 9 billion mark by 2050. Nearly 90 per cent of us will reside in developing countries.

Science has to help find solutions for these problems – a task that has become even more difficult because of natural calamities such as hurricanes, which hit the South more frequently.

Science by nature is international, meaning that every nation can contribute to it. Yet much of the global population are left out of this process, creating a knowledge divide. Science is essential not only for the development of knowledge, but also as a basis for the development of technologies and national innovation systems for economic growth. In addition, decision-making must be based on the best available knowledge from scientific research. This is as vital for the poorest farmer in Africa as it is for the CEOs of multinationals and political leaders round the world.

Now, in the early 21st century, one of our major challenges is reformulating science within the context of sustainable development. It is now necessary to bring the natural and social sciences together to address issues of sustainable use of the earth’s natural resources. The scientific agenda also needs to be participatory, involving different sectors of society.

Conclusions and recommendations

  • Scientific communities in all countries must have access to knowledge by providing bridges over knowledge divides. Since information is not knowledge, the efforts to bridge the digital divide are necessary, but are not enough on their own. So science education must ensure a scientifically literate population that can transform information into knowledge. Young people must be attracted to careers in science and each country should strive to have at least one research university where science education can be based on a sound foundation of scientific research.

  • Training the next generation of scientists must also focus on basic sciences; there would be no applied science if there is no science to apply.

  • At the same time, it is necessary to encompass a wide interpretation of sciences, including natural and social sciences as well as technological and health sciences. Complemented by the humanities, we can build a true knowledge economy where scientific knowledge can be the basis for technological innovation and the development of national entrepreneurship.

  • Building a knowledge economy demands increased pledges from the donor community. Efforts to provide substantial funding for African universities are welcome, but all least developed countries need external assistance, while national governments must develop their own higher education and science policies to guide their long-term development towards knowledge societies. Active South-South and South-North collaborations will be useful in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

  • Governments and the science community must address the issue of brain drain. National higher education and science policies should provide the necessary conditions for the conduct of scientific research. Capacity building efforts must address the development of the next generation of scientists and provide the necessary infrastructure to enable the scientific community to conduct research of relevance to their countries. Scientists in diaspora should be encouraged to help develop scientific capacity in their countries of origin. At the same time, we must create a scientific atmosphere to meet the aspirations of budding scientists.

  • Developing countries and development aid agencies need to be convinced of the value of investing in higher education and scientific research for sustainable environmental, social and economic development. To help bridge the knowledge divide is an ethical responsibility of the world science community.


Session 5 – The Future of the Environment

Facilitators and rapporteurs


Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural sciences, UNESCO

Miklós Persányi, Former President, United Nations’ Convention on Climate Change and Minister for Environment, Hungary


Tibor Faragó, Director General, Ministry for Environment, Hungary


André Berger, Catholic University of Louvain

Junjiro Kanamori, Director, International Institute for Advanced Studies

Pierre Léna, French Academy of Sciences

Brendan MacKey, Eart Charter Initiative, School of Resources, Environment and Society, The Australian National University

András Szöllösy-Nagy, Director, Water Division, UNESCO

Guido Van Steendam, International Forum for Biophilosophy, Belgium

Laura Westra, York University, Toronto

Summary of the session

Our planetary environment provides all the basic conditions and resources for life. But human activities have a huge and increasing impact on these conditions through our use of natural resources and the release of pollution and waste.

We inherited an environment in one state, and future generations will inherit it in another – one further exposed to various natural processes and human activities. We are of course responsible for the consequences of our activities, or our inaction, that contribute to the degradation of natural resources and to potentially irreversible changes in the state of the environment.

Our influence on the environment has significantly grown and has accelerated over the past century. It is now global in scale, involving the depletion of the ozone layer, the loss of biological diversity and the rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In many cases the knock-on effects of these processes are accumulating, but there are also historical and regional differences in the kind and degree of human activity driving these changes. As a result, responsibility for these activities is allocated differently to various generations, nations, social groups and sectors.

The scientific community is engaged in investigating these complex issues thoroughly and providing a firm basis for better understanding the problems involved. In this way it can help formulate relevant strategies, response policies, measures and effective actions by societies in general and decision-makers in particular.

Conclusions and recommendations


  • Human interference with the Earth’s environment is on the rise. Human activities have already influenced all components of the environment. There is increasing scientific evidence that certain human activities can trigger changes, and indeed have triggered them, in the state of environmental conditions at the global level.

  • The future of our common environment is intimately connected with the future of humankind. There is no sustainable human development without a sustainably managed global environment.

  • It is misleading to separate the natural environment (our habitat and that of future generations) from our own life and health. The right to life and, by extension, the right to biological and physical integrity, is entirely dependent on our habitat. Consequently, breaches of environmental regulations are breaches of human rights, and should be viewed as criminal and handled accordingly by societies and in law.

  • Legislators and judges are very careful to respect social issues such as health, non-discrimination and human rights in their decisions. However, they neglect almost entirely the findings of physical and biological/medical sciences on the effects of environmental exposure to chemicals and various pollutants, or the adverse effects of hazardous industrial activities on human health. In this context, a new approach to the concept of health and even a new definition of health is needed, as the present definition was formulated many decades ago – long before many of these chemicals and pollutants existed.

  • The Earth’s environment is a huge, complex system. All of us need to more fully understand this global system – including processes, feedback mechanisms and interconnections – so a better assessment of the system’s future behavior can be made, reflecting internal processes, external factors and especially, our planned and inadvertent influences on it. In this context, the importance of the principles of prevention and precaution is huge, because we have an ever-greater impact on the environment, and much of it is potentially irreversible.

  • Human activity is currently built on the false assumption that global environmental conditions do not change, and particularly that the global climate system is constant. Even if there had been no change brought about by human activity, this would be an erroneous and dangerous assumption. For human societies to be sustainable, they must factor in environmental change and long-term variability, whether driven by natural or human forces, rapid or slow. This means that resilient human settlements and agricultural systems will need to be developed.

  • A key scientific question is whether it is possible to identify an ecological bottom line at both global and regional scales – such as a safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or the amount of natural vegetation that’s needed to maintain necessary ecosystem services. The Millennium Ecosystem Report provides empirical evidence that certain natural systems are already stressed and overused. But can we scientifically identify safe limits for the human exploitation of ecosystems?

  • In addition to the material environmental services derived from ecosystems (food, fibre, water, energy), there are “non-use” values and benefits that need to be recognized. These include providing for the other life forms, and maintaining the evolutionary potential of life itself.

  • Global environmental problems demand a multilateral approach. While bilateral agreements and ad hoc alliances can be regionally useful, effective commitments need to be formulated, agreed and implemented in the context of international legal frameworks, such as the global conventions on the protection of the ozone layer, climate and biological diversity. Such agreements can only be effective if they are properly based on the results of systematic observations and multidisciplinary research. Science policy should take into account the complexity of environmental problems, along with identified gaps and the need for trans-disciplinary research.

  • There are already important developments showing that political leaders and civil society representatives recognize the large-scale environmental hazards now emerging, as well as the urgent need for action and strengthening international cooperation, and for basic principles to govern our approach to these problems. Such key international agreements and other documents include, for example, the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the 1992 Rio Declaration and so-called “Rio agreements” (Agenda 21; the conventions on climate change, biological diversity and desertification; and the principles on sustainable forest management), the 2002 WSSD Political Declaration and Plan of Implementation, and the Earth Charter as a civil society declaration.

  • Scientists have a duty to speak out frankly on issues of public policy relevant to their areas of research expertise. Any neutrality on their part amounts to a position too, and one that is often inimical to human rights.

  • In the long term, only appropriate education at all levels will help to change our understanding of more harmonious human-nature relations and a healthy environment – which are essential prerequisites and dimensions of sustainable development. There will be no sustainable development without a fundamental change in education – and that means both basic education and the establishment of multidisciplinary education programs that create a common vision and language for understanding comprehensive environmental systems.

  • Holistic governance mechanisms should be strengthened, including broad public participation in decision-making; strengthening educational schemes so as to assist in preparing citizens for participatory democracy; and reflective dialogue between policymaking and scientific communities. Because of the complexity of environmental problems, it is necessary to promote and provide the resources and means for global access to environmental data and the free exchange of scientific information and findings.


  • Higher greenhouse gas emission levels from various human activities continue to drive climate change. In spite of the remaining scientific uncertainties, we should find ways and means to significantly mitigate greenhouse gas emissions arising from human sources. More, societies should urgently prepare to adapt to changing climatic conditions, as the rise in more extreme meteorological and related other (such as hydrological) phenomena in many regions is a distinct warning in this regard. In this context, one of the basic challenges for the scientific community is to improve our understanding of the global climate system – in particular, soot properties, ice-sheet instability, biosphere-climate interactions, the hydrological cycle, frequency and intensity changes in extremes, the indirect effects of aerosols and cloud microphysics.

  • We also urgently need to improve modeling tools for climate change and impacts at the regional and local scales, especially in the face of increasing evidence that the hydrological cycle intensifies. This will probably have significant impacts on the incidence of extreme hydrological phenomena such as floods and drought. It is likely that the frequency of these events will increase, although there is not yet enough data to provide reliable assessments of their magnitude. So it is of utmost importance to maintain, improve and connect Earth observation systems. If we continue to use water unsustainably, reaching the water-related Millennium Development Goals is unlikely. International scientific programmes dealing with water resources and the hydrological cycle need to be strengthened. The free exchange of hydro-meteorological data for scientific purposes should be encouraged, with a view to reaching point where transboundary data can be freely exchanged to serve affected communities. As half of humanity lives in shared river basins and as the per capita water availability appears to be on the wane, conflicts around water might arise in the near future. Throughout human history water has served as a community builder – so it should be made a source of cooperation rather than conflicts.

  • A multitude of persistent substances used in industrial processes, agricultural practices, appliances, medicines and so forth are being dispersed and dissolved into and/or transmitted by wind, water, soil and so on, causing increasing risk to humans and ecosystems. Addressing these challenging problems demands a comprehensive, coherent approach. Substances that are persistent for long periods of time reach the atmosphere and accumulate there; and the volume of certain chemicals increases in the hydrosphere, worsening water quality and endangering aquatic ecosystems. Persistent chemicals in the environment include stable molecules used in human and veterinary medicine (such as certain hormonally active substances, and antimicrobial, antiparasitic or cancer-chemotherapeutic agents) that are excreted virtually intact and could, through recycling in food or water, affect people or animals.

  • To mitigate the growing pressures of human activity on the environment, the development and deployment of environmentally sound and more efficient technologies are promising as long as they are based on exploring new realms of knowledge, and are carefully tested for comprehensive environmental as well as technological performance. Such technologies will not only help ease difficulties associated with our environmental problems, but can also improve economic competitiveness. More people and more nations can generally benefit from using such modern technologies, and can avoid an unsustainable path of development if access to them is provided under fair conditions.


Session 6 – Educating Future Generations

Facilitators and rapporteurs


Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Rector, University for Peace, Costa Rica


Andrea Déri, LEAD International


Tariq Banuri, Director, Stockholm Environment Institute – Asia Centre, Thailand
Jill Jaeger, Senior Researcher, Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI), Austria

Lieke Riadi, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs, University of Surabaya, Indonesia

Akito Arima, Chairman, Japan Science Foundation

Yves Quéré, Cochair, Inter-Academy Panel (IAP), Académie des Sciences, France

Katalin Sulyok, President, Hungarian Research Student Association

György Pálfi, Councillor and Science and Technology Attaché, France

Alan Leshner, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Martha Richter, Natural History Museum, London


Summary of the session

The session was divided into two parts. The first framed the issue at global level with a vision of our world as one: Earthland, a single country of which we are all citizens, whether we like it or not. Earthland is a developing country whose citizens live in a dual economy, a dual society, in what can only be described as a dysfunctional world. Participants also heard a presentation about sustainability science and the responsibility of universities toward their students.

The second part of the session featured concrete examples of activities carried out in all parts of the world aimed at encouraging young scientists. These stories underlined the growing number of good practices that exist and that could be replicated elsewhere.

Throughout the presentations and discussion, several key concepts emerged. These included the importance of networking; of trust; of finding good mentors; the need to address problems in an interdisciplinary and systemic manner; the importance of building bridges between cultures and generations, measuring impact; ensuring large-scale dissemination; and most importantly, the need for new models of education.

What the future holds in store for us individually, for our nations, and for the world depends largely on the wisdom with which we all use science and technology. A scientifically literate society is necessary to capture and use science and technology for a sustainable path of development. Education has a fundamental role to make new scientific knowledge accessible to and appreciated by all members of the society, not only scientists.

This session addressed the responsibility of the present generation of scientists and researchers for future generations, focusing on the principal themes of the World Science Forum 2005: knowledge, ethics and responsibility of scientists. Speakers provided their insights into the type of knowledge required for a sustainable future.

The relationship between science and society is changing and scientists need to redefine how they communicate with the public – especially youth, the future generations – to foster a relationship that improves overall accessibility to scientific knowledge and understanding.

Scientists’ responsibility in educating future generations involves both their role in learning support and their role in research. Scientists share the responsibility for and should take the lead in moving science education into the forefront of the public policy agenda and in assuring that our schools and universities prepare young people for careers of innovation and leadership in science and engineering.

Reforming science education – from educating educators, to developing standards, to improving access for all – is a worldwide challenge that is essential if overall improvements are to be made. In science education, it is more and more widely discovered that “horizontal teaching” – when teachers take students by the hand and lead them on a voyage of discovery, stimulating their observation and experimentation skills, imagination, curiosity and reasoning capacity (also known as inquiry-based science education) – enhances students’ intellectual and manual capacities enormously.

To make the voice of the next generation heard in current research and education agenda, national and global level capacity development is critical. Hungary’s mentoring programme for talented high school students and the World Academy of Young Scientists (WAYS) are good examples of young researchers being allowed to participate in today’s and tomorrow’s knowledge- and experience-based societies.

Scientists share the responsibility not only of educating future generations but also of developing new, knowledge-based and ethical leadership. Shared responsibility defines a new way of leadership for sustainability, demonstrated by LEAD, a collaborative leadership of stakeholders.

Sustainability science has a special importance both for science and education. This emergent field of science seeks to understand the fundamental character of interactions between nature and society and to harness science and technology in the quest to achieve transitions to sustainable development. The problem-driven nature of sustainability science implies a new “social contract for science”. Making such a “new contract” a reality will require changes in both the “demand” and the “supply” sides of science and technology for sustainable development.

Conclusions and recommendations


A new “social contract for science” is needed to continue the regular involvement of future generations – not just to help get them enthused about science, but also to allow the rest of us to benefit from their unique contributions.



  • New educational models should be created to develop a sense and identity of global citizenship in order to take a collective responsibility for humanity. These systems will be expected to redress the current dualities and fundamental inequalities in access to science and education.

  • New educational approaches and methods that are inter- and transdisciplinary and issue-driven need adopting, and participatory practices and methods must be endorsed, to prepare young generations to live in a world of constant change.

  • The scientific capacities of future generations need boosting at all levels. A powerful way of achieving this is to provide frequent opportunities for senior scientists and young people to interact, communicate and share their views.

  • The development of the new discipline of sustainability science should be developed by encouraging changes in both the “demand” and the “supply” sides of science and technology for sustainable development.

  • Partnerships between all major stakeholders – the scientific community, private sector, public sector and civil society – should be built to help educate future generations.

  • Scientific mentoring programmes for talented and motivated high school students should be supported through existing efforts on the part of science academies to promote science education, and should integrate classroom and extracurricular experiences.

  • Inquiry-based science education for children, as developed by the worldwide network of science academies the InterAcademy Panel (IAP), should be promoted.

  • Young scientists need to be encouraged to become involved in global leadership networks such as WAYS and LEAD to support the development of knowledge and experience-based societies.

  • The impact of the various efforts to reach younger generations needs to be understood, and subjects of impact studies – such as young scientists – should become involved in their design and the interpretation of their results.

Special Session – Science in a Democratic World: the Role of Parliaments

Facilitators and rapporteurs


Mustafa El-Tayeb, Director, Science Policy and Sustainable Development Division, UNESCO

Diana Malpede, Science Policy and Sustainable Development Division, UNESCO

F. Bilal, Director (Science), Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, ISESCO


Werner Arber, Nobel Laureate in Medicine


E. Sylvester Vizi, President, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Hadi Azizzadeh Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ISESCO

Kalevi Olin, MP, Committee for the Future, Parliament of Finland

Edouard Brezin, President of the French Academy of Sciences, France

János Martonyi, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary

Lilia Jorgelina Puig de Stubrin, MP, President of the Science and Technology Commission, Honorable Chamber of Deputies, Argentina

Robby Berloznik, Chairman, European Parliamentary Technology Assessment groups (EPTA)

Alba Sasso, MP, Culture, Science and Education Commission, Camera dei Deputati, Italy

Amuriat Oboyi Patrick, MP, Chairman of Science and Technology Committee Parliament of Uganda

Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director General for Sciences, UNESCO

Franco Asciutti, MP, President of the Education, Higher education, Research and Culture Commission, Senato della Repubblica, Italy

Japhet C. Moonde, MP, Chairperson of the Education, Science and Technology Committee of the Zambia National Assembly

Jánis Strazdinš, MP, Head of the Education, Culture and Science Committee Saeima – Latvian Parliament, Latvia

Jorge Villatoro, MP, President of the Education, Science and Technology Committee, Parliament of Guatemala

Krešimir Ćosić, MP, Head of the delegation of the Croatian Parliament, in NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Croatian Parliament, Croatia

Julio César Córdova Martínez, MP, President of the Science and Technology Commission, Mexican Congress, Mexico

Vladimir Damgov, Member Science and Education Committee, National Assembly, Bulgaria

Guguli Magradze, MP, Member of the Committee of Education, Parliament of Georgia

Summary of the session

This roundtable session, organized by UNESCO, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Finnish Parliament, regrouped representatives of parliamentary science committees from Europe, Latin American, Asia, Africa and the Arab states, as well as scientists and representatives of regional and international organizations. The participants listened to and discussed various experiences as well as the role of parliaments in the science, research, technology and innovation.

Conclusions and recommendations

  • Today’s legislative process increasingly involves multiple agents, well beyond those who are formally responsible. Policymaking is a process that brings together appropriate government authorities or representatives (GOs), business, think-tanks, journalists and other relevant interests along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

  • The essence of an efficient connection between science and parliamentarians lies in enhancing communication between scientists and policymakers. Scientists are responsible for conveying their research in a faithful and intelligible manner, clarifying gaps in knowledge and outlining uncertainties to policymakers, so the media and in particular science journalists play a vital role here.

  • The need to train parliamentarians in future scientific developments, and the potential benefits or impacts generated by them, point to a need for better knowledge of various technological methodologies and means, technology assessment and technology foresight. The participants called on UNESCO to serve as a clearinghouse for all existing procedures.

  • Recognizing that decision-making still takes place primarily at the national level, there is a need for strengthening networking and cooperation among countries, to exchange experiences and expertise.

  • Noting the difference in timescales between the concerns of science and the political world, the need for long-term policies – particularly with regard to scientific infrastructures that were made to last through generations, not from election to election – was emphasised.

  • A national science policy forum needs to include parliamentarians, science and technology policymakers, journalists, business, political parties and civil society organizations.

  • UNESCO and ISESCO were called upon to provide an international platform of cooperation among parliamentary science committees, scientists and different stakeholders in order to share experiences and practices and to improve national legislative processes.

World Science Forum 2005 – General Recommendations

  • Due to the complexity of science today, the relationships between academia, government, the business sector, and other actors in society needs to be recast. This process in turn demands new models for science funding, education and communication.

  • To fully benefit from the opportunities of capacity building, experiences and good practices should be exchanged and shared worldwide.

  • It is essential to foster mutual understanding to bridge the cultural gap between science and business, with particular attention paid to interconnectedness, interdependence, ethics and human values.

  • The rapidly widening gap in capacity, scientific knowledge and achievements in
    science and technology among different countries and regions should be eliminated by strengthening South-South and South-North cooperation.

  • Intrinsic ecological values need to be recognized, including the greater community of life with which we share the planet, and the need to maintain the evolutionary potential of life itself.

  • It is never too early to interest children in science – and once enthused, they will become a new generation with a crucially enhanced understanding of science.