Science for society

Science is the greatest collective endeavour which UNESCO supports and encourages to be undertaken for it contributes to ensuring a longer and healthier life, monitors our health, provides medicine to cure our diseases, alleviates aches and pains, helps us to provide water for our basic needs – including our food, provides energy and makes life more fun, including sports, music, entertainment and the latest communication technology. Last but not least, it nourishes our spirit.

Science generates solutions for everyday life and helps us to answer the great mysteries of the universe. In other words, science is one of the most important channels of knowledge. It has a specific role, as well as a variety of functions for the benefit of our society: creating new knowledge, improving education, and increasing the quality of our lives.

Science must respond to societal needs and global challenges. Public understanding and engagement with science, and citizen participation including through the popularization of science are essential to equip citizens to make informed personal and professional choices. Governments need to make decisions based on quality scientific information on issues such as health and agriculture, and parliaments need to legislate on societal issues which necessitate the latest scientific knowledge. National governments need to understand the science behind major global challenges such as climate change, ocean health, biodiversity loss and freshwater security.

To face sustainable development challenges, governments and citizens alike must understand the language of science and must become scientifically literate. On the other hand, scientists must understand the problems policy-makers face and endeavour to make the results of their research relevant and comprehensible to society.

Challenges today cut across the traditional boundaries of disciplines and stretch across the lifecycle of innovation - from research to knowledge development and its application. Science, technology and innovation must drive our pursuit of more equitable and sustainable development.

What has been done so far?

  • MOST Schools on sustainability

Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Schools are capacity-building activities focused on strengthening the competences for evidence-informed decision making in Member States. That are often through the collaboration of Social and Human Sciences and Natural Science sectors.

Conceived on the basis of bottom-up demands arising from specific needs in concrete contexts, MOST Schools prioritize interventions aimed at developing the capacity of researchers and decision makers to transfer knowledge into action, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. Their primary goal is to support long-term sustainable development in contexts where capacity gaps may be a major constraint to transforming research into action.

MOST schools provide an effective response to social transformation challenges which is a longstanding need that requires commitment from the international community to develop comprehensive socially inclusive and evidence-based public policies. A key role in this respect is provided by the Management of Social Transformations Programme and its Intergovernmental Council (IGC MOST) with social inclusion as one of its central priorities. The MOST mechanisms are geared towards stimulating policy-oriented research and streamlining a coherent and structured research-policy dialogue among a vast array of actors and stakeholders at national and international levels.

Under this theme UNESCO ROSA:

  • Supports inter-disciplinary research, in particular Sustainability Science;
  • Supports evidence-based policies on the inclusion of migrants in Southern Africa; and
  • Develops the Southern African Arm of UNESCO LAB on Inclusive Policies. 
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