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Cousteau Programs
Dolphin Log in the Classroom-Cousteau Label-Coastal Workers-Waters of Peace

Ecotechnie: An Approach for Future Generations

Fragile and vulnerable, the planet suffers more and more from human activities. The Man and the Biosphere program launched in 1971, the United Nations Stockholm conference on the environment in 1972, and finally the 1992 United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, all sought to respond to growing concern about the conservation of ecosystems by laying the groundwork for new policies, forged around a global view of the interaction between living systems, and focused on sustainable development, notably the controlled use of natural resources.

To Prepare for the Future

This is the approach Captain Cousteau spearheaded, first in regard to the scientific community, then with decision-makers around the world. As early as 1986, he sought to encourage environmental education programs that would enable specialists from a variety of disciplines to meet on common ground. Whether they be chemists, molecular biologists, geographers, architects, ecologists, sociologists, or economists, they must think in broad perspective, learn to anticipate the consequences of their decisions, and jointly develop new ways of managing our environment. Faced with the demographic challenge of the coming century (our planet will be home to an estimated population of 10 billion individuals in the year 2040), Captain Cousteau sought not only to emphasize the urgent need for scientific communities to converge around a unified objective, but also to enable the leaders of tomorrow to be increasingly aware and better informed about the long-term consequences of their decisions. Captain Cousteau thus developed a philosophy for the future christened Ecotechnie.

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This philosophy of action is now part of a multi-disciplinary post-graduate program which The Cousteau Society proposed to UNESCO. Together they began to set up an international network of UNESCO-Cousteau chairs in Ecotechnie. Pierre Lassere, director of UNESCO's environmental sciences division, explains: "UNESCO's purpose in its major programs is to struggle for peace. However, we firmly believe that peace cannot be established without dialogue, discussion, and exchange. It requires a joint effort not only on the part of researchers who have until now remained within the limits of their individual disciplines, but also on the part of scientific communities, political decision-makers and economic leaders who too often concentrate on profitability while forgetting the moderating analyses of scientists. We are also seeking to reduce the schism between the nations of the north that have the financial power, and those of the south which have the largest share of biodiversity wealth. We are working actively for responsible conservation of the biosphere and sustainable use of resources, as well as a more equitable division of the biological diversity market."

For information about the current status of the Ecotechnie. program, see the UNESCO-Ecotechnie. pages at: http://www.unesco.org/mab/capacity/ucep/ucephome.htm