On the heels of the recently concluded climate change negotiations in Paris, the United Nations Secretary General’s Scientific Advisory Board focused on harnessing the full potential of science and knowledge, including social sciences and local and indigenous knowledge, to realize fully the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Organized by UNESCO, and hosted by the Russian Federation in Saint Petersburg, the fourth meeting of the Board aimed to finalize the results of their Delphi Study on the Top Challenges for the Future of Humanity and a policy brief on the Data Revolution. In addition, the board will flesh out future briefs on assessing the risk of climate change and the role of science in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While the Board welcomed the binding climate agreement adopted in Paris as a strong commitment from the international community toward a sustainable future, it encouraged investments in science to help countries stay well below the 2°C threshold and to assess the potential risk of going over. This investment should support research and the translation of science into action for society.
The discussion highlighted the strong links between climate change mitigation, health, food security, and other aspects of sustainable development, demonstrating that they must be addressed jointly. “I see these as the same agenda,” explained UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, speaking of the COP21 agreement and the 2030 Agenda. “An agenda for human rights and dignity, for poverty eradication, for sustainability. Science is essential to taking this agenda forward.”
In this context, it is necessary to connect the dots between research and innovation in order to translate science into social benefits. The path between the two are not easily visible. Scientific, local and indigenous knowledge systems must also learn from each other in order to create new knowledge and design context-appropriate solutions. The Board also recognized the importance of local and indigenous knowledge and cultural diversity as sources and drivers of sustainable development.
The central function of the Board is to provide advice on science, technology and innovation for sustainable development to the Secretary-General and to the UN system. Hosted by UNESCO, the Board brings together the collective capacity of all relevant scientific fields, with due regard to social and ethical dimensions of sustainable development.
The Board will prepare a consolidated report for the United Nations Secretary General during their next meeting, which will take place in Trieste, Italy, on 24-25 May 2016.
- Policy brief: Data Revolution for Better Lives for All (pdf)
- Results of a Delphi Study on the Top Challenges for the Future of Humanity and the Planet to be brought to the attention of the Secretary-General (pdf)
- Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General
- Members of the Board
- Message by the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, to his Scientific Advisory Board (video)