Building peace in the minds of men and women

"Our future depends on the relation we build between science and policy," says Irina Bokova at the launch the Scientific Advisory Board

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board held its inaugural session today in the Weltsaal of the German Federal Ministry of Foreign affairs, in Berlin. Federal Foreign Minister of Germany Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Secretary General of the United Nations Mr Ban Ki-moon and Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova joined forces for the launch.

The Scientific Advisory Board will serve as an interface to strengthen cooperation between the scientific community and policy-makers, so as to craft more sustainable and equitable development strategies on solid scientific ground and to respond the needs of societies and people. In its tasks, the Board will identify concrete strategies and measures to tighten the linkages between the sciences and policy and also define priority scientific issues for sustainable development.

The establishment of the Board was first announced during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) and it follows up on the recommendations of the Report of the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, "Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing", published in January 2012.

« We need a clear commitment to put the world on a sustainable path, » stated the Secretary General, « and we must pull our resources and wisdom together : we need more integrated policies to tackle the interconnected challenges we all face .» In his inaugural address, Federal Minister Steinmeier underlined his Government’s strong commitment to the United Nations and emphasized the need for a more effective multilateral cooperation, reminding the audience that « the United Nations was created precisely to bring solutions to issues where Nations have been confronted with their own limits, where everything else has failed -- And this is particularly relevant for sustainable development. »

Members of the Scientific Advisory board were introduced, and each one had the opportunity to comment on the need to better integrate all sciences, as the precondition for sustainability.

« The 21st century needs the full range of knowledge, and indigenous knowledge has a vital role to play here. » said Professor Joji Carino (Philippines). Underlining the importance of social sciences, Professor Dr Sir Hilary Mcdonald Beckles, from Barbados, declared: « History is like the rain forest, if we look carefully enough, we will find solutions to many problems and issues we have already confronted. »

Nobel Prize Laureate Ada Yonath (Israel) underlined the international dimension of science as a powerful way to bring people and ideas together : « Science is more than a tool, it is also the way to gain new wisdom, new ideas and design new politics, on a global level, because science is international.”

In her intervention, Irina Bokova called for concrete answers and scenarios from the scientific community on how to bring this diversity of knowledge together to advance more effective action : « This Scientific Advisory board is, fundamentally, about action .»

« The way to be effective is not only to get good science but to communicate effectively about it » said Professor Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Scientific Advisory Board is part of the global strategy of the United Nations to mobilize the sciences to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals and to ensure the integration of scientific perspectives into the post-2015 global sustainable development agenda. More than 500 selected guests from the scientific, political and diplomatic community attended the launch at the invitation of the Federal Government of Germany, organized in cooperation with the German Foreign Ministry and the German National Commission for UNESCO.

« This advisory board is the face of science ,» said leading German science TV journalist, Ranga Yogeshwar, who moderated the event « I am very happy to introduce the Scientific Advisory Board. »