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First UNESCO Natural Science Centers Coordination Meeting Held in Beijing
 Date: 2016-05-25  Page Views:

The UNESCO Science Centers Coordination Meeting was opened in Beijing on May 16. This is its first global meeting of natural science centers since UNESCO was founded in1945.

The meeting was co-hosted by UNESCO, Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), supported by China National Commission for UNESCO, and jointly organized by the International Knowledge Centre for Engineering Sciences and Technology (IKCEST, a category 2 center under the auspices of UNESCO and hosted by CAE) and the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST, a category 2 center under the auspices of UNESCO and hosted by CAS). Among the people who attended and spoke at the conference are Ms. Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, Mr.Zhou Jiagui, Deputy Secretary-General of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, Prof. Zhou Ji, President of CAE, and Prof. Tan Tieniu, Vice President of CAS.

In his speech, Zhou Ji said that, with the help of UNESCO, Chinese Academy of Engineering founded the International Knowledge Centre for Engineering Sciences and Technology in 2014 and together with Tsinghua University, established the International Center for Engineering Education in 2015. He expressed his hope that the two centers would bring UNESCO and Chinese Academy of Engineering closer and served as a platform for cooperation between the centers affiliated with UNESCO Sector of Natural Sciences.

Zhou also spoke highly of the important role played by the centers under the auspices of UNESCO in terms of carrying out fundamental and cutting-edge research in different fields as well as of promoting scientific and technological advancements and boosting innovation.

According to Vice President TAN Tiexiu, CAS has always been attaching great importance to its cooperation with UNESCO. Under the framework of the World Academy of Sciences, CAS has already established eight overseas centers in such countries as Nepal, Kenya and Sri Lanka, which have been playing an important role in boosting the development of science and technology in these Asian and African countries. CAS, while hosting the Chinese National Committee for MAB, also established two category 2 centers under the auspices of UNESCO - International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) and Asia Pacific International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP-AP).

Prof. Tan praised HIST and pointed out a number of its recent achievements, such as serving the rotating presidency for the Union of UNESCO’s category 2 centers within China, undertaking international cooperative projects like Remote Sensing for the Environment of Angkor Site in Cambodia, monitoring East Rennel World Heritage site in danger in Soloman Islands, and the World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka, as well as providing technical training for the capacity building of UNESCO site managers in Asia and Africa.

The meeting brought together experts and scholars of over 40 UNESCO science centers worldwide and provided them an opportunity to engage in face-to-face communication under the current UNESCO framework. In the three-day meeting, more than 160 participants from around the world exchanged thoughts with one another on issues like making contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda in the fields of sciences related to UNESCO, enhancing cooperation between centers under UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector. They are also expected to reach important consensus on building an information-sharing platform for UNESCO’s sciences centers with a global coverage.

As major partners under UNESCO’s strategic objectives, category 2 centers are considered especially important in enabling greater involvement of UNESCO member states in its activities and expanding UNESCO’s support for its member states. China currently has 13 category 2 centers, of which eight are in natural sciences and five in education and culture.

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