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A call for UN partnership with science centres and museums

**For an interview with Margit Fischer, contact:**
Petra Bockenauer-Preinfalk, Public Relations
Vienna, Austria:
Telephone: +43 1 710 19 81 16
Mobile: +43 664 240 79 46
Fax: +43 1 710 19 81 99

Margit Fischer will meet with the press from 11.30 to 13.30 GMT on 29 March in Room 6 of the London International Convention Centre (ICC) at Excel. Find directions to the venue here: www.planetunderpressure2012.net/location.asp.

**For interviews about the worldwide movement of science centres and museums for sustainability, contact:**

Walter Staveloz, Director International Relations,
Association of Science-Technology Centers Inc. (ASTC):
Washington, D.C., USA
Telephone: +1 202 783 7200 x 118
Mobile: +1 202 492 8253

Science centres and museums call for UN partnership to bolster public engagement for sustainability

29 March, 2012, LONDON, UK – First Lady of Austria, Margit Fischer, will make the case for a science centre and museum partnership with the United Nations at the Planet Under Pressure (PuP) conference, 29 March, 10:15 am, in London, UK. The PuP is an official lead-up conference to Rio + 20 – the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

The UN High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability has stressed the need for the average citizen – particularly young people – to understand the risks and implications of a planet under pressure.

“Science centres make it possible for any person to holistically grasp important environmental issues, thereby building the necessary knowledge, self-worth and empathy that motivate personal action, engagement and changes in habit,” says Fischer.

The majority of environmental education occurs outside the classroom – a fact acknowledged by the UN Committee for Sustainable Development Education Group.

Science centres and museums are ready to drive public engagement in the Rio+20 process, Fischer says, and they are urging a strategic plan that channels the energy of science centres and museums into a UN public outreach strategy.

The key is to use the abundant resources we already have, Fischer says. “Ideally, the United Nations would not invent new formats in order to convey sustainability issues,” she adds. “They would turn to the infrastructure and experience of science centres who know how to communicate complex topics, have established partnerships with the educational field, and are locally known and trusted.”

Fischer, who is also the president of the Austrian ScienceCentre-Network, will speak during the PuP session High-level responses from policy, major groups and society. Her presentation will feature the Road to Rio Google map which displays hundreds of science centres and museums who engage the public with sustainability topics. View the map on the Planet Under Pressure website: www.planetunderpressure2012.net/scitech.asp.

Countering the popular image of science centres as playgrounds for children, Fischer says, “even if some activities might seem more oriented towards children, a closer look reveals that they offer powerful opportunities to grasp complex issues for all ages and backgrounds.” “I am not a scientist, but a curious person,” Fischer explains. “When I witnessed the excitement and engagement of all age groups during my first visit to a science centre, I was intrigued by this kind of learning environment. This was the basis for my long-term commitment to science centres.”

“Where else, other than science centres, is curiosity the only requirement and guiding principle for exploring and learning?” Fischer asks.

Download the full text of Margit Fischer’s speech in PDF format, below.

The attached photos are free for media use. Higher resolution versions are available at: www.astc.org/about/PuP.htm


Thematic group