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Entries tagged with ‘sustainability’

International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station (ISS) project is the first project involving international cooperation to construct a space station, and involving 15 countries, including the US, Russia, members of the EU, Japan and Canada. Astronauts from a number of countries have visited the space station, for example, Marcos Pontes from Brazil and Yi So-yeon from South Korea were the first astronauts to go into space from their respective countries. Construction of the ISS was started at the end of the 1990s and still continues.

This was an epoch marking event for space development in the world, because for the first time the US and Russia cooperated in space development. It can be said that the event was the opening of a new era of space development not for military use.

Although the station is still under construction, it has already been used for various purposes. It is expected that activities in the space station, such as research concerning health and environment, and observation of the earth yield valuable findings for our sustainable development. Success in this project also means the enhancement of our biosphere.

The ISS project and space technology represented by this project can be one of the key technologies for sustainable development in future. At the same time, it can cause controversial arguments from various points of view such as practically or ethically, for example: do the benefits derived from the ISS correspond to the huge investment?; or should we live apart from ‘Mother Earth’ even if it is technologically possible?

Space technology is vital for thinking about sustainability, monitoring, and information, both positively and negatively.

Timeline entry contributed by Hiroko Takuma

The First Image of Earth from Space

“Earthrise, December 1968 – the first picture of our world taken from space was published 40 years ago this week and still retains its haunting power” (headline from an article in the Independent newspaper from 10th January 2010).

From my own experience, a significant event in the history of science and technology is the first image of the Earth from space. The photograph was captured on Christmas Eve 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission, and was published over 40 years ago in January 1969. That a team of astronauts could travel to space is a great feat and of huge significance for science and technology. The creativity and intelligence of the human mind astounds, and surely has much to offer to sustainability and development.

However, the significance of the image is also symbolic. This image inspired the environmental movement as the social movement as we know it today. This image brought an awareness of a global environment. Seen as the ‘blue marble’ suspended in space, the potential fragility and finiteness of the Earth became apparent. Focus widened to an awareness of more global or transnational threats, and a dialogue between the green movement, which became institutionalised in environmental NGOs, and the private sector and governments was established worldwide.

The significance of the environmental movement today can be seen in its “impact on cultural values and society’s institutions”, in its “distinctive place in the landscape of human adventure”, and how it is “at the root of a dramatic reversal in the ways in which we think about the relationship between economy, society, and nature, thus inducing a new culture” (Castells, 1997). The importance of this ‘new culture’ for sustainability and development is that it links the public with ideas and progress in innovation and technology.

The pursuit of science and technology does not take place in a vacuum, it is given legitimacy by civil society. The environmental movement served as a two-way bridge between the research, design and development in innovation and sustainability and their intended sites for use and implementation, the public sphere. This is a two-way communication whereby civil society informs innovation and sustainability and vice versa, a symbiotic relationship driving science and technology forward on a greener path.

Source: Castells, M. (1997) The Power of Identity. Oxford: Blackwell Publications.

Entry submitted by Orla Martin

STEPS Centre Symposium ’09: Multimedia

The STEPS Centre’s Annual Symposium focussed on our New Manifesto project. We attempted to capture a flavour of the discussions by recording video interviews, taking photos, by bloggers  contributing  thier thoughts and by making speaker presentations available.

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UNU-IAS: S&T for Sustainable Societies

This initiative by the United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies is based on the premise that “the solution to the twin challenges of global poverty and climate change could be found through science, technology and sustainable innovation.” (UNU-IAS website)

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Workshop: International Science and Technology Cooperation for Sustainable Development

The aims of the workshop were to identify good practices in international science and technology cooperation for sustainable development; attempt to develop indicators of these good practices; identify effective modes for S&T partnerships in the water and energy sectors with specific examples; and recommend approaches for the fuller integration of science and technology dimensions in sustainable development policies. These are summarised in the publication ’Integrating S&T into Development Policies’ published in 2007. Read the full article »

World Summit on Sustainable Development

The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development reaffirms a commitment to advance the three ‘pillars’ of sustainable development – economic development, social development and environmental protection – at the local, national, regional and global levels.

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