A unique global non-governmental organization, representative of both the natural and social sciences, was formed this week through the merger of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), two of UNESCO’s longest standing partners. The International Science Council (ISC) will support scientists to contribute solutions to complex and pressing matters of global public concern and defend the inherent values of science at a time when it has become harder for it to be heard.
“All three organizations were born in the wake of global conflict and are driven by the deep conviction that international problems must be solved through international cooperation” reminded UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, Mr Xing Qu. “Our core values have not changed since, even if the world has. Humanity is facing new challenges, as well as old challenges that need a new approach… whether it be the precipitous decline in global biodiversity, climate change, rapid population growth, or the deteriorating condition of the world’s ocean and water bodies.”
The merger will facilitate this new approach by fostering global collaboration in the natural and social sciences, which together underpin the three pillars of sustainable development: social, environmental and economic. UNESCO and ISC share the values defined in the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers, adopted by UNESCO in 2017 to provide a blueprint on the goals and value systems by which science operates and promote appropriate national and global science, technology and innovation policies.
UNESCO and ISC will work together to strengthen the interface between science and policy. ISC is now the largest scientific organization of its kind, bringing together 40 international scientific unions and over 140 national and regional Academies and Research Councils; and UNESCO brings together 195 Member States with a unique mandate in the United Nations, to build peace through education, culture, natural and social sciences, and communication.
The fruitful collaboration first developed with ICSU and ISSC will continue. ICSU became a key partner in 1946, shortly after UNESCO was founded. Together, they contributed to the development of essential global science initiatives, such as Future Earth and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). Since 2016, they have established a partnership on the provision of science advice for public policy, together with the International Network of Global Science Advice (INGSA).
ISSC was founded through a resolution adopted by the 6th General Conference of UNESCO and has been a valued partner ever since its creation, particularly in the context of UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme. UNESCO and ISSC have notably co-published three World Social Science Reports.
“The collaboration between UNESCO and the International Science Council is more than simply an institutional mechanism” concluded Xing Qu. “It expresses a vision of humanity, sharing understanding of ourselves and of our planet, and creating the conditions for our collective future.”