UNESCO said today that its World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), created in 1977, will meet for the first time outside of Europe when its third conference takes place from 1 to 4 December in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.The 18 COMEST members have been given the task of providing those who advance scientific and technological research with criteria for decision-making that are not based solely on economic and financial issues. To that end, it promotes dialogue between scientific communities, decision-makers and the public at large.The Commission is divided into four sub-commissions that reflect on the ethics of the uses of fresh water, outer space, energy and the information society, all in the broader context of environmental ethics and sustainability.Its first session will tackle ethics education, seen as a pressing need in a time of rapid scientific change. On 3 December COMEST is scheduled to have a round table discussion on “the ethical implications of research on human beings in developing countries.”

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