Encyclopedia with a difference: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS (EOLSS)

The World’s largest, state-of-the-art, educational, professional, informative, and integrated knowledge base dedicated to the health, maintenance, and future of the web of life on planet Earth, focusing on sustainable development in all its myriad aspects from ecological issues to human security!

The EOLSS is the result of an unprecedented global effort and a decade of planning. The leading experts who have contributed to this state-of-the-art publication come from diverse fields.

Peer reviewed body of state-of-the-art archival knowledge edited by over 395 subject experts with contributions from over 8000 reputed authors from more than 100 countries. The content covers more than 235 major theme subjects as an integrated compendium of 20 component encyclopedias.

  1. EARTH AND ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES
  2. MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES
  3. BIOLOGICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES
  4. BIOTECHNOLOGY
  5. TROPICAL BIOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
  6. LAND USE, LAND COVER AND SOIL SCIENCES
  7. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES
  8. PHYSICAL SCIENCES, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
  9. CHEMICAL SCIENCES ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
  10. CONTROL SYSTEMS, ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION
  11. WATER SCIENCES, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
  12. ENERGY SCIENCES, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
  13. ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECOLOGICAL SCIENCES, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
  14. FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
  15. HUMAN RESOURCES POLICY, DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGEMENT
  16. NATURAL RESOURCES POLICY AND MANAGEMENT
  17. DEVELOPMENT AND ECONOMIC SCIENCES
  18. INSTITUTIONAL AND INFRASTRUCTURAL RESOURCES
  19. TECHNOLOGY, INFORMATION AND SYSTEM MANAGEMENT RESOURCES
  20. AREA STUDIES (REGIONAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT REVIEWS):Brazil, China, Japan, USA and Canada, Europe, Russia.

Through the many and diverse consultation exercises around the world, the EOLSS has benefited immensely from the academic, intellectual, and scholarly advice of each and every member of the nearly 1000-strong International Editorial Council, which includes Nobel and UN Kalinga Laureates, World Food Prize Laureates and several fellows of academies of science and engineering of countries throughout the world.

EOLSS was officially released on the Internet at (www.eolss.net) by the UNESCO Director General on the 3rd September 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It attempts to forge pathways between disciplines in order to show their interdependence and helps foster the transdisciplinary aspects of the relationship between nature and human society. It deals in detail with interdisciplinary subjects, but it is also disciplinary as each major core subject is covered in great depth, by world experts.

The Encyclopedia is designed to be a guide and reference for a wide range of users: from natural and social scientists to engineers, economists, educators, university students and professors, conservationists, entrepreneurs, law and policy-makers. The EOLSS project is coordinated by the UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Committee.

Best efforts are being made to make the EOLSS widely accessible to the global public and this effort is widely admired for espousing education for sustainable development.

EOLSS-online is made available free of charge to universities in the UN list of least developed countries and disadvantaged individuals worldwide.  Presently the following 50 nations are enjoying this privilege:

1. Afghanistan 17. Etiopia 34. Niger
2. Angola 18. Gambia 35. Ruanda
3. Bangladesh 19. Guinea 36. Samoa
4. Benin 20. Guinea Bissau 37. São Tomé e Principe
5. Bhutan 21. Haiti 38. Senegal
6. Burkina Faso 22. Kiribati 39. Sierra Leone
7. Burundi 23. Laos 40. Isole Salomone
8. Cambogia 24. Lesotho 41. Somalia
9. Capo Verde 25. Liberia 42. Sudan
10. Repubblica Centrafricana 26. Madagascar 43. Timor-Lesté
11. Ciad 27. Malawi 44. Togo
12. Comore 28. Maldive 45. Tuvalu
13. Repubblica Democratica  del Congo 29. Mali 46. Uganda
14. Gibuti 30. Mauritania 47. Tanzania
15. Guinea Equatoriale 31. Mozambico 48. Vanuatu
16. Eritrea 32. Birmania 49. Yemen
33. Nepal 50. Zambia

“The Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems is different from traditional encyclopedias. It is the result of an unprecedented world-wide effort that has attempted to forge pathways between disciplines in order to address contemporary problems” said UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura. “A source-book of knowledge that links together our concern for peace, progress, and sustainable development, the EOLSS draws sustenance from the ethics, science and culture of peace. At the same time, it is a forward-looking publication, designed as a global guide to professional practice, education, and heightened social awareness of critical life support issues. In particular, the EOLSS presents perspectives from regions and cultures around the world, and seeks to avoid geographic, racial, cultural, political, gender, age, or religious bias.”

“EOLSS has the goal to provide a firm knowledge base for future activities to prolong the lifetime of the human race in a hospitable environment”, according to Richard R. Ernst, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

Leon M. Lederman, Nobel Laureate in Physics remarked: “The EOLSS is not only appropriate, but it is imaginative and, to my knowledge, unique. Much of what we can write about science, about energy, about our far-ranging knowledge base, can indeed be found in major encyclopedias, but as I understand your vision, never as a central theme; the theme of humanity, embedded in nature and constrained to find ways of maintaining a relationship with nature based upon understanding and respect.”

In the words of M.S. Swaminathan, First World Food Prize Winner, “Ecotechnology involving appropriate blends of traditional technologies and the ecological prudence of the past with frontier technologies such as biotechnology, information technology, space technology, new materials, renewable energy technology and management technology, can help us to promote global sustainable development involving harmony between humankind and nature on the one hand and tolerance and love of diversity and pluralism in human societies on the other. We need shifts in technology and public policy. This is a challenging task to which the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems should address itself.”

According to Jean-Marie Lehn, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry: “Pursuit of knowledge and truth supersedes present considerations of what nature, life or the world are or should be, for our own vision can only be a narrow one. Ethical evaluation and rules of justice have changed and will change over time and will have to adapt. Law is made for man, not man for law. If it does not fit any more, change it…. Some think that it is being arrogant to try to modify nature; arrogance is to claim that we are perfect as we are! With all the caution that must be exercised and despite the risks that will be encountered, carefully pondering each step, mankind must and will continue along its path, for we have no right to switch off the lights of the future…. We have to walk the path from the tree of knowledge to the control of destiny.”

J.L. Lions, Japan Prize winner in Applied Mathematics said: “EOLSS is concerned with the Life Support Systems…. Each of these systems is a very complex one. …we have to think of all these “systems” as closely related “subsystems” of the Planet Earth System. The situation is extremely different in most of life support systems modeling…. There is not one model, but a hierarchy of models. Examples of these situations will be given throughout the Encyclopedia. … More delicate are the global problems, involving several goals, with possible conflicts of interest. …Rational decisions will be more and more possible to envision if one will be able to couple the physical modeling to economic and financial models and to human factors…. These delicate and fundamental questions will deserve a lot of attention in the Encyclopedia.”

S.P. Kapitza, UNESCO Kalinga Prize Winner said: “The population of our planet and its development over the ages sets the scene for considering all global problems and it is reasonable to begin their discussion with population growth. … Thus we are dealing with an interdisciplinary problem in an attempt to describe the total human experience, right from its very beginning. But without this perspective of time it is not possible to objectively assess what is happening today and provide an objective view of the present state of development, the challenge now facing humanity.”

“Our best hopes for future peace and global security rely upon strengthened international cooperation to protect the web of life support systems that we destroy, so ridiculously, day in and day out. We share only one planet. We—and future generations—have nowhere else to go,” according to Mostafa K. Tolba, formerly Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme and the editor of ‘Our Fragile World: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development’ a two volume publication in about 2300 pages published in 2001 as forerunner to the Encyclopedia. “It is hoped that the encyclopedia will provide the necessary impetus and knowledge support to enable humanity to choose the right direction to move towards sustainable development.”

“Most United Nations projects of this size begin by consulting government representatives. But EOLSS went straight to the scientific communities involved,” said Andras Szollosi-Nagy,a member of the UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Committee and Director of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme. In 1996 thousands of scientists, engineers and policy-makers began meeting just to define the scope of the project, before discussing the details of the contributions. Regional workshops were held in Washington DC, Tokyo, Moscow, Mexico City, Beijing, Panama, Abu Sultan (Egypt), and Kuala Lumpur to develop a list of possible subjects and debate analytical approaches for treating them.

“From the start, we had to be absolutely certain that one school of thought did not dominate the conceptual basis of the encyclopedia,” said Szollosi-Nagy. “This democratic process guided every step in the encyclopedia’s development. With thousands of authors from more than 100 countries the editors have set up a self-regulating mechanism to ensure that the subjects are considered from a variety of cultures and perspectives.”

Teams of experts are working to regularly update the various sections of the web-based encyclopedia, making EOLSS a “living virtual library and a site for action rather than just a publication,” according to Mustafa El Tayeb, Director, Division for Science Policy and Sustainable Development (SC/PSD), UNESCO and Secretary of the UNESCO-EOLSS Joint Committee. Soon, it will mature to its full size of about 70 million words (equivalent to about 200 volumes) by augmentation and updating as often as every month. EOLSS is rapidly becoming the most sought after reference site in the World.