in coastal regions and in small islands
U N E S C O
Joint Statement of the Chairpersons of the Five
International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP)
International Hydrological Programme (IHP)
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme
Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST)
Commission III, UNESCO
(Thirteenth Session, Paris, 4-5 November 1999)
We are now at a new threshold of opportunity, fuelled by a consensus
among the five programmes that we share a unity of purpose and that we can be considerably
more effective by combining efforts and reinforcing synergies. This favorable climate
coincides with a moment of change within UNESCO and the beginning of the new strategic
planning process. Inspiration for our discussions was drawn from the new contract between
science and society called for by the World Conference on Science, to which all of our
programmes are committed. We also bore in mind that this General Conference is discussing
the role of UNESCO in the 21st century. Preparing for the ten-year
international review of UNCED (Rio + 10) was yet another factor. With all these
perspectives in mind, we reaffirm our will to act in a constructive and complementary way
by taking joint actions among our programmes whenever possible.
Our discussions led us to the following conclusions:
- Addressing the challenge of sustainable development is perhaps the most daunting task of
the 21st century, and one that will require deep-seated changes in our ways of
thinking and acting. For science this shift has profound implications, ranging from coping
with increasing complexity, breaking down traditional disciplinary barriers, designing
research to be relevant for policy-making, rethinking education at all levels, and
communicating scientific information to non-technical user groups. Most importantly, there
needs to be a greater input of science into the policy-making process, in both qualitative
and quantitative terms. In this respect, one of the most pressing needs is to integrate
and diffuse knowledge so that it can be applied to the solution of "real world"
- Success in achieving sustainable development will depend above all on political will to
take the decisions necessary to support such changes. Such political will has thus far
been lacking. Of particular concern is the failure to provide adequate levels of support
for the sciences and for education, despite their having been recognized as key
instruments for achieving a sustainable future.
- Action towards sustainable development needs to be taken primarily at national level.
UNESCO should respond to Governments expressed requirement that science provide
integrated input into policy-making so as to transcend sectoral boundaries.
- There are four overriding outcomes which each of the five programmes, separately and
collectively, seeks to attain. These are: relevance to solving concrete problems,
injection of research outputs into policy-making at the national and global levels,
empowerment of people and communities, and education and public understanding.
- To enhance their effectiveness, the five programmes will work to reinforce partnerships
and networking at all levels, particularly with the International Council of Science
(ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), as well as with UN system
- UNESCO, like other institutions, is operating in an increasingly competitive environment
in which resources are scarce. More than ever, there is need to adapt, reform, and deliver
results. The Organization must therefore capitalize to greater effect upon its comparative
advantages with respect to science in support of environment and sustainable development.
These comparative advantages include:
- Leadership role within the UN system in both science and education for sustainable
development, as inter-agency task manager for chapters 35 and 36 of Agenda 21, and active
involvement in the work of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.
- Practical potential to effect linkages between science and policy-making.
- Unique positioning to support the action plans of the major UN conferences and post-Rio
conventions with regard to science and education.
- Having a broad range of science programmes which develop together an integrated
- Having both natural and social sciences in the same institution.
- Having the sciences in the same institution as education, culture and communication, all
of which are essential components in the quest for sustainable development.
- Co-operation among the five programmes has advanced significantly in the past biennium
through a number of co-operative activities.
- However, several areas of real concern remain relating to:
- Inadequate recognition and visibility of the five programmes within the international
- Lack of sufficient resources - both financial and human - to develop the programmes to
their full potential.
We have therefore decided to:
Form a "Steering Group of the Five Chairpersons" to
strengthen further the links between the five programmes. This group will operate in a
results driven, flexible and cost-effective manner. It requires the secretaries of the
programmes to facilitate jointly the working of the group. In the next two years, it will
- The strategic directions which should be reflected in the next Medium-Term Strategy of
- The role of the programmes, their impact and visibility, co-ordination and co-operation,
and organizational matters related to programme delivery.
- Integration of programme actions and the adaptation of structures to support such
- The preparation of the Rio +10 review in 2002.
- Experiment with ways of integrating the work of the five programmes at national level,
with the goal of providing substantive input into the efforts of countries to address
environment and sustainable development problems. This will be tested in a few countries
on a trial basis in 2000-2001, building on the experience of the alliance of national
committees in the Nordic-Baltic region to develop an integrated coastal zone strategy.
- Develop joint demonstration projects in specific locations which lend themselves to an
integrated approach from research and training to policy implementation. Possible
locations include, inter alia, large river basins and extensive wetlands, biosphere
reserves, world heritage sites, and coastal mega-cities.
- Devote increased attention to education and public understanding, as the essential
underpinning for sustainable development. Educational curricula at all levels need to be
scientifically sound, to train people to deal with complexity, and to address the
interfaces between disciplines and realms of knowledge that lie at the heart of
sustainability. In addition, greater efforts will be made to ensure that the scientific
outputs of the five programmes are communicated effectively to decision-makers, educators,
and other non-specialists. The five programmes need to co-operate increasingly with
UNESCOs education programmes. Interdisciplinary UNESCO Chairs in the area of
environment and sustainable development and the work of young scientists should be
- Within UNESCO the five programmes recognize that they will work increasingly with:
- the Transdisciplinary Project Educating for a Sustainable Future, for issues concerning
education and public awareness;
- the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) platform, where appropriate, to advance
actions in the coastal zone;
- the World Heritage Centre, to ensure better science advise and support for the
management of properties inscribed on the world heritage list.
- Develop joint activities in the following new thematic areas:
- Ethics, as highlighted by the World Conference on Science, in collaboration with the
World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology.
- Traditional and indigenous knowledge systems, involving local communities, natural and
social scientists, and specialists in culture.
- Developing scientific tools for conflict resolution management.
- Improved governance for sustainable development.
- Input into the International Year of Mountains in 2002.
- Participating in the development of the Hydrology for Environment, Life and Policy
- Science education.
- Increase joint activities in relation to the three Rio conventions (biodiversity,
climate change and desertification) and other related multilateral agreements, integrated
coastal area management and small islands, natural disaster reduction, freshwater, social
transformations and sustainability, urbanization and city governance.
We recommend that:
- The five scientific programmes be given the highest priority in the next Medium-Term
- Innovative management policies and incentives be implemented to enhance the financing
capacity of the five programmes. While welcoming the decision to allocate fixed budget
provisions to the programmes, we recommend that UNESCOs governing bodies should also
address the need to increase substantially the financial and staffing resources allocated
to the five programmes.
- Donor countries, and the donor community in general, increase extra-budgetary support
for UNESCOs action in environment and sustainable development.
- The five Secretariats develop jointly a strategy for increasing extra-budgetary support.
- The Director-General examine ways to foster integrated approaches and collective
visibility for the five science programmes through the Bureau for the Co-ordination of
Environmental Programmes, while recognising the current effective and efficient
co-ordination of environmental programmes.
- All efforts be made to facilitate collaboration as regards environment and sustainable
development among the Natural Science, Social and Human Sciences, Education, Culture and
Communication Sectors within UNESCO, and to overcome structural barriers that impede such
collaboration. The whole of UNESCOs expertise and action needs to be tapped and
integrated in order to take best advantage of its unique institutional identity.
7. The Director-General ensure that the secretariats of the respective
programmes as well as the Bureau for the Co-ordination of Environmental Programmes
actively follow-up this Joint Statement and that the secretariats meet regularly for this
purpose. The secretaries are charged with the duty of ensuring that all essential
information be circulated amongst the five programmes in a regular, timely fashion.
8. The new Director-General reinforce UNESCOs overall effort in
environment and sustainable development, and in particular the five programmes, as well as
education for sustainability, in line with the new directions, requirements and
opportunities emerging within the international community.
Javier Castroviejo, Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB)
Edward Derbyshire, International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP)
Su Jilan, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, International Hydrological Programme (IHP)
Kenneth Wiltshire, Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST)