|Science and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 pages)|
President of the City Assembly of Belgrade
I have the honour to welcome you cordially on behalf of the citizens of Belgrade and in my own name, guests and participants of the International Seminar on Science and Technology in the Transformation of the World, and to wish you successful work.
The place of your meeting - the University of Belgrade in the city of Belgrade - is a place of progressive tradition, openness, free communication, host to a number of international political, professional, scientific meetings dedicated to advancement of mutual co-operation.
However, the fact that this is the first international symposium of the United Nations University and that it is held jointly with our university, as well as the fact that it is dedicated to a topic such as the humanistic role of science, is our special pleasure and honour.
This fact is not accidental. it is rooted in the joint strivings of the United Nations University and our country; in a lively sense of the great dilemmas of our epoch which are troubling the world and especially developing countries; in endeavours for creating a more human, more just community of the new world economic but also social and cultural order.
The United Nations University is a noble example of such endeavours, establishing mutual links between countries, mutual intellectual enrichment. Your project, the theme which is the topic of your research, shows such a richness; a panorama of significant and inspiring themes comprising fundamental dimensions of scientific work from natural to social sciences.
Your seminar is dedicated to a topic that attracts more and more attention, the crucial topic of our epoch - the relations between technique and society, technological growth and human progress. It is dedicated to science and technology, which are parts of a new civilization wave; which are becoming a driving force of development, a strong lever for the humanization of the world, for the liquidation of poverty and hunger, for reducing the gap between rich and poor countries - this volcanic contradiction of our epoch.
But it would be a dangerous illusion to believe that technique by itself will solve existential problems. In spite of its great humanistic potentialities it can be abused, it can become destructive of nature, transformed into a powerful instrument of domination and power over people and whole communities, it can be used in favour of privileged groups and countries.
Technological growth will provide human progress not if it is stopped, but if it is connected with humanistic aims. It is necessary that every country develop its own creativity and not merely adopt foreign patterns of industrial urban development. Without individual creativity and development of all individual scientific potentialities, independent social and cultural identity cannot be achieved. However, it does not mean autarchy. On the contrary, at the same time that we reject any sterile isolation and building of Chinese walls around ourselves, we open up bridges towards the world, towards universal scientific achievements and mutual enrichment. Our times have become an epoch of general interdependence - technological, economic, cultural. But the world shall become a real human community of equal people and nations only provided that each culture enriches it by its authentic, unique creativity, looking for answers to the problems that we all have to face.
This is the great, real role of a university which comes out of its isolation and has a sense for social needs. However, it is not merely a receiver of orders, but is rather one of the pioneers in the discovery of new possibilities of development; a watchtower of the world development of science from the viewpoint of the need for development of all creative potentialities of one's own society.
I know that one group at this meeting shall separately discuss science and technology as causes of change in urban environment. Belgrade as a big urban centre is especially interested in all achievements that can improve conditions of work and life in big urban centres. We are putting great efforts into this aspect and we have, besides a number of research programmes, invested a considerable part of our scientific and financial potentialities in the establishment of the Centre for Urban Technology. The principal task of the Centre is to carry out in practice the theoretical knowledge accumulated in the world and to give answers as to how citizens - producers and consumers - can more effectively participate in making vital decisions in their everyday lives.