UNESCO receives 2016 Science Diplomacy Award

09 December 2016


2016 awards for science diplomacy. © Science Forum South Africa (SFSA)
© Science Forum South Africa (SFSA)

South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology has given a 2016 Science Diplomacy Award to UNESCO, in recognition of its work to foster partnerships and international collaboration among nations in the field of science, technology and innovation (STI). UNESCO was awarded this honour for its outstanding work in science diplomacy and its contribution to harnessing international peace, understanding and solidarity. The award was presented today during the Science Forum South Africa by H.E. Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, in Pretoria.

As a specialized agency of the United Nations, UNESCO contributes to the building of peace through education, science, culture and communication and information. By enhancing STI cooperation, building constructive international partnerships, and facilitating knowledge exchange and sharing, UNESCO works to bolster friendships and science capacities through collaborative initiatives that work to advance global sustainable development and peacebuilding processes.

Science cooperation to improve international relations between countries has been part of UNESCO’s mandate since its inception. In recent years, the concept of Science Diplomacy -  using science to promote peace and sustainable development - has attracted a lot of interest and new stakeholders. In this context, UNESCO retains unique comparative advantages:

  • Legitimacy; UNESCO’s universal mandate for science for peace and development ever since its inception in 1946, has made the Organization the cradle of modern science diplomacy. One of its first success stories was the creation of CERN in the early 1950s.
  • Credibility; UNESCO has extensive institutional expertise and a longstanding history of launching and implementing ground-breaking initiatives and projects that have gained international recognition. One of the most high-profile initiatives of this century concerns the SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East). 
  • Universality; UNESCO can promote science diplomacy based on its universal mandate and, through its vast network of partners, bring diverse stakeholders, scientists, decision makers, and diplomats, from around the world together.

Science Diplomacy is an integral part of UNESCO’s International Scientific Programmes, which include the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGCP), and the International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP). They strive to consolidate communities of scientists and of decision-makers, politicians and diplomats, while promoting capacity building and creativity.  

UNESCO’s field offices around the world, and their extensive networks of scientists, politicians and decision-makers, are uniquely placed to explore the regional perspective of Science Diplomacy.

Science Forum South Africa
The Science Forum South Africa is a two-day international gathering organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) aimed at creating a platform for dialogue on the role of science, technology and innovation in society. The aim of the Forum is to encourage an open debate between all stakeholders on the role of science in society, in South Africa, and also in Africa and globally. The theme of the 2016 Forum is “Igniting Conversations about Science.” It took place on 8-9 December 2016  at the CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.

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