29.03.2012 - ODG

Irina Bokova: we must harness the power of science to empower people

© Philip Wade

“We are committed to placing science at the heart of all efforts for sustainable development,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova on 29 March, at the opening of the High-level Welcome at the Planet Under Pressure Conference held in London. She highlighted the Organization’s role in helping States answer key questions about equitable and inclusive growth together, with the help of science.

The theme of this High-level session, that took place on the last day of the conference after the meeting of experts, was “Ways ahead: a vision for 2050 and beyond, and exploring new partnerships and pathways towards global sustainability”.  UK Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, opened the session together with the Director-General.

In a video message to the High-level session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called upon the scientific community to help make sense of the complex and interconnected challenges --including climate change, the financial crisis and food, water and energy insecurity -- that threaten human well-being and civilization as we know it. The Secretary-General informed the meeting of his intention to engage the scientific community in taking forward the science-related recommendation of his High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, with support from Director-General Bokova. In ending, the Secretary-General welcomed the State of the Planet Declaration issued by the Conference and its timing, noting that "Rio+20 is a major opportunity to advance the policy–science interface."

This major international conference, held from 26 to 29 March in the run-up to the Rio+20 conference, focused on solutions to the global sustainability challenge. It brought together scientists, political leaders, academics, health specialists, representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the media, and discussions focused on climate, ecological degradation, human well-being, planetary thresholds, food security, energy and governance.

A series of policy briefs and white papers discussed and developed during the conference will be presented at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20 (June 2012). “Our Conference this week is important for clarifying the vision we want Rio +20 to take forward,” said Irina Bokova.

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