The Geneva Milestone: a path to policy action towards the 2030 Agenda through science


UNESCO’s vast network of Chairs and Networks in the Natural Sciences concluded their first meeting with the adoption of the Geneva Milestone, a blueprint to strengthen UNESCO Chairs’ contribution to transformative change towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development through cooperation.

The 2030 Agenda offers immense opportunities to reconnect science to society and to build a new basis for research as a driving force, not only for economic growth and prosperity, but also for environmental sustainability, development and social inclusion. In this context, the 172 UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks that are specialized in science have an important role to play, as bridge builders between the scientific community, decision makers and society.

“We are all committed to the 2030 Agenda, and to support our Member towards the necessary resources to successfully implement this agenda” said UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel, as the Chairs adopted the Geneva Milestone. She explained that together, UNESCO and its vast network of Chairs can make a difference through the five Cs: Concern about the great challenges facing our world today, their Commitment to engage for the 2030 Agenda and to Connect to networks and to Cooperate with the Confidence that science will make a difference to promote peace in the minds of all people.

The Geneva Milestone contributes to guiding the future endeavours of the UNESCO Chairs in Natural Sciences in close cooperation with the UNESCO family and the UNESCO National Commissions through concrete areas. It translates the UNESC Chairs and Networks’ commitment to uphold the values of UNESCO, and incorporate those of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, into the operations of UNESCO Chairs, at organisational level and in their research, teaching and outreach.

Through their programmes, the Chairs will generate new knowledge and develop innovative tools to help Member States address the challenges raised by the Sustainable Development Goals. The Milestone emphasises the need for interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, the importance of connecting science, society and policy through close collaboration and to share knowledge widely.

A working group with the participation of representatives of Chairs and the UNESCO Secretariat will prepare, by the end of 2017, an Action Plan for follow-up of the Geneva Milestone, to be submitted to consultation with the UNESCO Chairs and Networks in Natural Sciences. This first meeting of UNESCO Chairs and Networks for the Natural Sciences was also an opportunity for them to build synergy and cooperation among themselves and between UNESCO and the United Nations family.

The conference was organized by UNESCO with the kind support of Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Université de Genève, CERN and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

More information: