UN Secretary General calls on leading scientists to offer solutions for ambitious, low carbon sustainable development

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Message by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to his scientific advisory board
© UN media

“We need science to end poverty, promote low carbon economy and transform our world” stressed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as the 4th meeting of his Scientific Advisory Board began on 14 December 2015 in Saint Petersburg (Russian Federation). The central function of the Board is to provide advice on science, technology and innovation (STI) for sustainable development to the Secretary-General and to the UN system. Hosted by UNESCO, the Secretary General’s Scientific Board brings together the collective capacity of all relevant scientific fields, with due regard to social and ethical dimensions of sustainable development.

Ground breaking results were achieved with the Paris Agreement on the climate, marking a turning point on how the world will address climate change. COP21 is a beginning, and you will be a part of this transformative change, as more science, technology and innovation will be needed to help countries reach the ambitious goals they have set for themselves” said UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova, in her opening remarks. “I believe we need a new vision for science, technology and innovation today, for the benefit of all, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized. This is the goal of the Scientific Advisory Board – to integrate cutting edge science into policy, to link science, policy and society, at a time when this has never been so necessary.” The Director General is chairing the meeting.

 “I appreciate this opportunity for us to discuss ways to contribute to the 2030 Agenda and provide our recommendations on the contribution of science to sustainable development,” said Professor Fortov, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, welcoming his fellow Board-members in the Russian Federation.

The 2-day meeting is hosted by the Government of the Federation of Russia, with the support of the the National Mineral Resources University (Gornyi University), to oldest technical education institution in Russia. The opening ceremony included a high level discussion panel at the Gornyi University, providing an opportunity for a lively exchange between Board-members, scientists, and academia. The President of Gornyi University, Mr Vladimir Stefanovich Litvinenko, opened the discussion by inviting the panel to push knowledge forward. On this occasion, Irina Bokova was granted a Doctor Honoris Causa by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The opening also provided an opportunity for UNESCO, PhosAgro and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) to give research grants to six innovative research projects as part of their Green Chemistry for Life project, which promotes the sustainable use and design of chemicals and chemical processes.

Mere days after the conclusion of international climate negotiations in Paris (France), the leading scientists comprising the Board will examine how science can support the implementation of the  newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the outcome of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21).

I see these as the same agenda,” explained Irina Bokova. “An agenda for human rights and dignity, for poverty eradication, for sustainability. Science is essential to taking this agenda forward.” Ban Ki-moon asked the Scientific Advisory Board to focus on how science can help the poor and end inequality. The Board will offer recommendations on ways to include local and indigenous knowledge in scientific assessments and decision-making processes concerning scientific, political and societal issues. It will also finalize its “Delphi Study on the Top Challenges for the Future of Humanity” and a policy brief on the data revolution.

“Look to the future. Anticipate trends. Confront problems and offer solution” instructed Ban Ki-moon, inviting the Board to begin its debates.

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