Innovation and inclusion were at the centre of the debates among the UNESCO Chairs for the Natural Sciences during the opening of their first meeting on 5 July 2017. UNESCO’s vast network of Science Chairs came together in Geneva, Switzerland to unite their efforts towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“We are living turbulent times, when societies are transforming and the planet faces rising pressure. In this context, we need new sources of innovation, new ways of harnessing the power of science for more effective policy-making,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in her welcoming address. “The world is calling out for science to craft new solutions that are inclusive, to link the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability.”
Fundamental scientific research is the driver of transformative solutions, reminded CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti. CERN’s research in particle physics motivated the development of cutting edge technologies, which are now applied for medical imagery, solar energy or to change the way we communicate, among others. “We are members of the same family”, said Ms Giannotti, a family created under the auspices of UNESCO, with a shared mission: the pursuit of life changing knowledge that brings people together across the world.
Collaboration is essential to bring forward the 2030 agenda for sustainable development forward, building bridges between science and society and across disciplines. “In its very essence, science has no borders” explained Krystyna Marty, Deputy State Secretary of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. “Scientific ties can overcome all national and ideological antagonisms. I am confident that the outcome document of this conference, the “Geneva Milestone”, will represent a step forward in this process and inspire innovative ways in approaching and rethinking science diplomacy for the sake of people, the planet and our prosperity.”
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.
More than 95 chairs from all regions of the world are represented during this first meeting. Together they will define the “Geneva Milestone”, an outcome document to improve cooperation between Chairs, UNESCO and the United Nations System in order to strengthen the contribution of science, technology and innovation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The conference is 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.