UNESCO has suspended its quarterly journal, A World of Science, after eleven years, owing to funding shortages. The journal’s archives may still be consulted freely online or downloaded. All the issues published since the journal’s inception are open access: in Arabic (2008−2010), English (2002−2013), French (2002−2012), Malay (2007−2008), Russian (2006-2011) and Spanish (2006−2012).
Although A World of Science appeared only in English in 2013 for financial reasons, several of the stories published last year were nevertheless translated into other languages, with the support of UNESCO colleagues and partners, namely:
- The Key to Managing Conflict and Cooperation over Water (2013, EN, ES, FR), introducing key themes of the UN International Year of Water Cooperation led by UNESCO, with case studies;
- Out of Sight, out of Mind? (2013, EN, FR), on the Groundwater Governance Project (2011−2014), which hopes to influence political decision-making by raising awareness of the urgent need to manage groundwater more sustainably;
- Networking on the Nile (2013, AR, EN), on the work of an informal network of scientists from the Nile Basin, guided by the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education;
- Protecting a land of fire and ice (2013, EN, ES, GER), on efforts by Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve in Chile to promote sustainable tourism, to protect one of the planet’s last wildernesses and create jobs;
- A Garden in the Desert (2013, AR, EN), on a survey which found that vegetation was recovering in parts of Qatar, even if desert rangelands and coastal areas remained in poor condition.
A World of Science was launched by UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector in October 2002, in the wake of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (South Africa). In his first editorial, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences Walter Erdelen explained that the aim was to ‘keep UNESCO’s concerns in the public eye and at the centre of public debate by making information easily available and attractive reading.’ At the time, there were numerous specialist publications on UNESCO’s work in hydrology, oceanography, ecology, geosciences, basic sciences and science policy but no medium drew all these threads together. A World of Science set out to remedy this. Moreover, recognizing that UNESCO’s work in science extends beyond the Natural Sciences Sector, the journal’s coverage included stories on such topics as interactive approaches to science teaching, the ties between biodiversity and cultural diversity, underwater archaeology, the ethics of nanotechnology and the Memory of the World programme. The journal targeted a wide audience, popularizing the science behind the issues, in order to put UNESCO’s work in context and broaden understanding of such key issues as climate change or the need to green the economy and improve natural resource management.
Between 2002 and 2013, UNESCO offered a free subscription service to both the online and print editions of A World of Science. Over a decade, more than 400,000 copies of the journal were distributed worldwide at no cost to the beneficiary. The journal was dispatched four times a year to all governments and depositary and parliamentary libraries, to IGOs and NGOs, National Commissions for UNESCO, scientific institutes, universities, schools and other institutions.
A special retrospective issue on UNESCO’s work related to climate change was published in 2007 to mark the journal’s fifth anniversary. To mark its tenth anniversary in 2012, the main stories were grouped online by theme and by region, thanks largely to the efforts of webmaster Ali Barbash. These themes are:
- A historical perspective
- Biodiversity and land management
- Biosphere reserves
- Climate change
- Earth sciences for society
- Engineering and technology
- Ethics of science and technology
- Freshwater management
- Greening the economy
- Local and indigenous knowledge
- Monitoring progress towards knowledge societies
- Natural disasters
- Physics and mathematics
- Research for health
- Women in Science
- Young scientists and engineers
The last issue appeared in October 2013. Its lead story related how the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953 ushered in a revolution in medicine, agriculture, forensics, insurance − and even archaeology and palaeontology. UNESCO celebrated the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix at its headquarters in June 2013.
A World of Science home page