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The open exchange of information, made possible by the World Wide Web and other information technologies, has revolutionised everything from global commerce to how we communicate with friends and family. We live in the age of the Information Society but without science, there would be no Information Society. Scientific research drives continued innovation in information technologies both by supplying the knowledge needed to build them, and by pushing for ever-greater computing power for future discoveries. The goal of this conference on the Role of Science in the Information Society (RSIS) is to illuminate science’s continuing role in driving the future of information and communication technologies. RSIS is a Summit Event at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which is being held in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003.

On 7 March, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a challenge to the world’s scientists to address the “clear inequalities” in scientific activities between advanced and developing countries. One key outcome of the RSIS conference will be a draft response to that challenge to be submitted to the summit. RSIS attendees will formulate a vision of what the future might hold, based on lessons learnt from achievements in science-driven information and communication technologies and their application to education, environment, health, and economic development.


The European laboratory for particle physics, CERN, together with the International Council for Science (ICSU), the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), are organising the conference on behalf of the scientific community. An International Advisory Committee has assisted with the programme content. RSIS attendees will include prominent scientists, key governmental policy-makers, and representatives from the business world, civil society, and non-governmental organisations worldwide.

In addition to the formal programme here, RSIS-related activities will include an Online Forum, an RSIS Showcase, and visits to the Large Hadron Collider project. A Science and Information Society forum (SIS-forum@ICT4D), and SIS On-Line will both be held at Palexpo, the venue for WSIS.
(The working language of the conference will be English).

Day One: Monday, 8 December

9:00- 13:00 Registration

(Registration will be at the CERN reception building, between Entrances A and B)
10:00- 12:00 CERN Visit
14:00-16:00 Opening Plenary - Setting the Scene - Main Auditorium & Council Chamber, Building 500
Moderator for the Plenary Sessions: Frank Rose, Contributing Editor, WIRED Magazine

1 - Welcome

Luciano Maiani, Director-General of CERN

2 - Welcome from the Host Country

Adolf Ogi, Special Advisor to the Swiss Federal Council on WSIS

3 - RSIS at the World Summit on the Information Society

Adama Samassékou, President of WSIS PrepCom

Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union

4 - Keynote Presentations

Nitin Desai, Special Advisor to Kofi Annan on WSIS

H.R.H. Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Princess of Thailand

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

5 - Visionary Presentation

Esther Dyson, chair of EDventure Holdings and founding chair of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will speak on “the promise of the information society” and the role that science and technology have played in creating it.

6 - How the Information Society Fosters Research and Learning

Ismail Serageldin, Director-General of the Library of Alexandria, will speak on the current role of ICTs in preserving and disseminating knowledge.

7 - Bridging the Digital Divide

Santiago Borrero, Secretary General of the Pan-American Institute for Geography and History (PAIGH), will talk about priorities in developing affordable means to overcome or minimize the digital divide in spatial information. Some transition economies are developing rapidly, but others--the majority--may continue to have little or no access to information needed for development.

16:00-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30-18:30 The Future: What the Scientific Information Society can Offer

8 - The Return to Society

Nico Stehr, Center for Advanced Cultural Studies, Essen, Germany

Onno Purbo, Indonesia

9 - The Next Steps

Juan Rada, Senior Vice-President of the Oracle Corporation for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will speak about the implications of science-driven technologies for the creation and diffusion of knowledge.

Lidia Brito, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Mozambique, will discuss the needs of developing countries which might be met through ICT innovation.

Reflections on the Role of Science in the Information Society
Robert Kahn, Corporation for National Research Initiatives; Juergen Renn, Max Planck History of Science and ECHO-European Culture Heritage On-line; Abdul Moyeen Khan, Minister of Science and ICT, Bangladesh; B.S. Ngubane, Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, South Africa; Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, Cuban Academy of Science; Renate Bloem, Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations
19:00 Buses Depart from CERN for Conference Dinner

19:30 Conference Dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Geneva

Dinner Speakers:
Malcolm Harbour, European Parliament (STOA)

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia

Day Two: Tuesday, 9 December

9:00-12:30 Parallel Sessions

(10:30-11:00 Coffee Break)

These parallel sessions are intended to provide substantial input for discussion at the final plenary event. The rapporteur from each session will present the conclusions in the final plenary Response for the Scientific Community to the UN Challenge session.

10 - Contributions to Education - Building 500, Council Chamber

(Chair: Wei Yu, Chinese Education Ministry; Rapporteur: Mustafa El-Tayeb, UNESCO)

Speakers: H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Princess of Thailand; Robert Eisenstein, Santa Fe Institute; Mohammad Hassan, Director-General of the Third World Academy of Sciences; Anne Margulies, Executive Director of OpenCourseWare, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Robert Martin, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; Atta-Ur Rahman, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Pakistan; Wesley Shrum, Louisiana State University

11Contributions to Economic Development - Building 40 S2 - B01

(Chair: John Dryden, Deputy Director, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Rapporteur: Mohammad Nahavandian, Vice President for Research, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran)

Speakers: K. Y. Amoako, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa; Subbiah Arunachalam, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation; John Burley, UNCTAD; Ferng Chin-Lin, AFACT; Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, Cuban Academy of Science; Richard Dixon-Hughes, ISO; Paul Rübig, Member of the European Parliament

12 – Contributions to Environment - Building 40 S2 - C01

(Chair: Walter Erdelen, UNESCO; Rapporteur: Luigi Fusco, ESA)

Speakers: Josef Ashbacher, ESA; Patricio A. Bernal, UNESCO and IOC; Omar El-Arini, UN-Ozone Protocol Secretariat; Stuart Marsh, Head of Remote Sensing, British Geological Survey; Stuart Salter, Species Information Service (SIS), IUCN; David Williams, EUMETSAT

13 – Contributions to Health - Building 40 S2 - D01

(Chair: Jim Kim, WHO; Rapporteur: Harry McConnell, Interactive Health Network)

Speakers: Luis Gabriel Cuervo, Cochrane Collaboration, BMJ; David Dickson, Science and Development Network; Dialo Diop, Cheikh Anta Diop University; Mary Ann Lansang, INCLEN; Salah Mandil, International eHealth Association; Yunkap Kwankam, WHO

14 – Contributions to and benefits from Enabling Technologies - Building 500 - Main Auditorium

(Chair: Robert Kahn, Corporation for National Research Initiatives; Rapporteur: David Williams, CERN and Trans European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA))

Speakers: Anthony Hey, e-Science Core Programme, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Harvey Newman, California Institute of Technology; Katepalli Sreenivasan, International Center for Theoretical Physics; Frederick Tusubira, Makerere University

12:30-14:00 Lunch

Plenary Sessions: 9 December, 14:00-15:30

15 - Response from the Scientific Community to the UN Challenge

Opening address: Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO

Moderator: Mohamed H.A. Hassan, Third World Academy of Sciences. Rapporteurs will present for discussion the reports from the parallel sessions, and the response from the scientific community to the UN's challenge will be finalized.

15:30-16:00 Coffee Break


16 - The Essence of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor and director of the World Wide Web Consortium. Essential to the Web is its universality: its independence of specific network, hardware and software, and of national culture, language, and disability. Both social and technological challenges remain to be met if the Information Society is to reach its full potential.

17 - Visionary Panel Discussion: Science and Governance

Ion Iliescu, President of Romania; Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor; Walther Lichem, Austrian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs; M.G.K. Menon, Indian Space Research Organization; Talal Abu-Ghazeleh, UN ITC Task Force

18 - Closing Remarks

Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD)
19 - Key Message from RSIS
Luciano Maiani, Director-General of CERN

Last modified on 9 December

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