Thailand hosts UNESCO meetings on science & technology ethics and sustainable development in an era of rapid technological change

BANGKOK — Thailand was chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to host the 26th Session of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (IBC) and the 11th Session of the UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) as well as the Conference on the Ethics of Science & Technology and Sustainable Development during 2-7 July 2019 at the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok.  Organized by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and UNESCO, the meetings are held at the time when rapid technological change is causing public concerns about the ethical conduct of research and practice in fields of science and technology, especially concerns about protecting human dignity and human rights and ensuring inclusiveness and sustainability in the light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presides over the opening ceremony of the Conference on the Ethics of Science & Technology and Sustainable Development on Friday, 5 July 2019.   Upon her arrival, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Soranit Siltharm, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, presents her the programme booklet and gives her a briefing of the meeting.  Then, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn gives an opening remarks.  After the royal speech, Mr. Xing Qu, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO delivers a keynote address, followed by a keynote speech by Prof. Yongyuth Yuthavong, an IBC member and Former Chairperson of UNESCO Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC).  Thirty-six IBC members and twenty-nine COMEST members comprising independent experts and leading scholars from scientific, legal, philosophical, cultural and political disciplines from various regions of the world contribute to the conference in eight plenary and four parallel sessions along with other international experts and scholars.   Together, they are expected to lead interactive discussions with multi-stakeholder participants from countries in ASEAN and Asia-Pacific.  

The conference emphasizes science and technology ethics with regard to modern technologies and concerns in the present millennium, including genome technologies, robotics/artificial intelligence/big data technologies, climate change technologies, and research integrity.  Throughout two days of intensive discussions, an outcome document, initially called Bangkok Statement, will be released to present the collective views and proposals to governments, international organizations, universities, the private sector, and the civil society on how to address the issues of science & technology ethics and to ensure effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in conformity with internationally adopted ethical standards. 

Thailand hosted the Fourth Ordinary Session of COMEST in 2005.  The meetings in July is the first time the country hosts IBC annual session and the second time it hosts COMEST annual meeting.   This event underscores Thailand’s continuous active participation in the global community of research and practice in the ethics of science & technology, including bioethics, and its commitment to achieving SDGs.  It is hoped that the event will increase public awareness in science & technology ethics and sustainable development and provide an opportunity for multi-stakeholder collaboration in the future.     
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