Science and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

05 October 2016

A new policy brief on Science and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was released today by the UN Secretary General’s Scientific Advisory Board. The brief underlines a set of principles that underpin the crucial role of science for sustainable development, beginning with the recognition of science as a universal public good that empowers people to lay the foundation for a sustainable world. It also lays out clear recommendations to maximize the contribution of science beyond being a ‘means of implementation’ with regard to achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

The 2030 Agenda recognizes the need to mobilize science at multiple levels and across disciplines to gather or create the necessary knowledge and thus lay the foundations for practices, innovations and technologies needed to address global challenges today and in the future.  "While there is no stand-alone goal on science, there is not a single SDG in the new agenda that will not require inputs from natural or social scientists and engineers" states the policy brief. "Indeed, for it to succeed, the implementation of the new development agenda needs to be based on an integrated scientific approach, guided by a holistic understanding of science and must be grounded in the best available knowledge."

The Scientific Advisory Board "calls upon scientists and policy-makers to recognize science as a universal public good, to acknowledge basic science as a principle requirement for innovation, to enhance diversity in science for sustainable development, to strengthen science education, to raise investments in science as well as to promote an integrated scientific approach."

Main recommendations include integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into research agendas, so that sustainability becomes the corner-stone for future research both in fundamental and applied science, creating effective mechanisms to allow the scientific community to contribute to the national and global follow-up and review processes of the 2030 Agenda, and establishing independent scientific monitoring mechanisms to allow science to play a role as a constructive corrective for achieving the SDGs.

This policy brief was released during a meeting convened by the President of UNESCO’s Executive Board, during its 200th session, where members of the Scientific Advisory Board presented their Summary Report to the UN Secretary-General.

The policy Brief on “Science and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, was presented by Jörg Hacker. Another policy brief on “Indigenous and Local Knowledge(s) and Science(s) for Sustainable Development”, also released today, was presented by Joji Cariño.

Susan Avery presented The Future of Scientific Advice to the United Nations, A Summary Report to the Secretary-General of the United Nations from the Scientific Advisory Board.