At the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives recognized the important contribution of the natural, social and human sciences to sustainable development and social inclusion. Fostering international scientific collaboration and strengthening the science-policy interface are crucial to address sustainable development and social transformation challenges.
Scientific as well as relevant indigenous and local knowledge play a critical role in helping to meet the development challenges of today and tomorrow. Based on progress achieved towards the Millennium Development Goals, the post 2015 agenda should be built in an inclusive manner, so as to take into account not only increased economic wealth but also equitable access to education for all (including in the sciences), reducing the gap in the availability and transfer of sustainable technologies between developing and developed countries, and the need to ensure social inclusion in an era of major social transformation.
The conservation, sustainable use of, and equitable access to natural resources and the sharing of benefits arising thereof, the need to adapt to climate change, the promotion of inclusion on the basis of the universal declaration of human rights and ethical principles constitute the main imperatives guiding the work of UNESCO in the areas of natural and social and human sciences and their contribution to sustainable development. An effective science-policy interface will require a regular and systematic assessments of scientific and other relevant knowledge in relation to social transformation and intercultural dialogue, climate change, biodiversity and key ecosystems such as fresh water and the ocean.
Through normative and technical assistance for ethically based inclusive public policies, UNESCO will accompany countries’ efforts to develop their own innovative solutions to the challenges and opportunities posed by sustainable development and cultural diversity. Hence, the highest priority needs to be given to the promotion of capacity development in the sciences, especially at the national level, and to the enhancement of the capacity of societies to take informed decisions about their future.